The CMA (AAMA) is considered the gold standard of medical assisting professionalism. The credential represents a medical assistant who has been certified by the Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). The CMA (AAMA) means a professional edge, increased prestige among colleagues, and greater job security.The National Board of Medical Examiners—responsible for many national examinations for physicians—serves as test consultant for the exam. As a result, the reliability, validity, and security of the exam are of the highest order. A greater number of employers are preferring (or even insisting) that their medical assistants be CMAs (AAMA). The AAMA staff receives 100 or more requests per day to verify that current or potential medical assistant employees are CMAs (AAMA).
So, you’ve decided to become a CMA (AAMA). Now what?
Step 1: Find Out If you are Eligible
Review the CMA (AAMA) Certification/Recertification Exam Eligibility categories to see if you qualify to take the exam.
Step 2: Enroll in and Complete an Accredited Medical Assisting Program
A number of schools offer medical assisting programs. Make sure yours is accredited. Once you find a program, go to the institution’s website, or contact the program director to answer specific questions. Here are sample questions you might want to ask:
- What are the tuition costs and financial aid options?
- What are the academic prerequisites?
- How long does it take to complete the program?
- What specific topics are covered?
- What does the practicum involve?
Your program will offer academic and clinical training in a variety of areas:
- Human anatomy, physiology, and pathology
- Medical terminology
- Keyboarding and computer applications
- Record keeping and accounting
- Coding and insurance processing
- Laboratory techniques
- Clinical and diagnostic procedures
- Medication administration
- First aid
- Office practices
- Patient relations
- Medical law and ethics
You also must complete a practicum (i.e., an unpaid, supervised on-site work experience in an ambulatory health care setting), which is part of the program.
Step 3: Apply for the Exam
Fill out the application and provide the required documentation and enrollment fee. (The required documentation depends on your enrollment category.)
If you are a member of the AAMA or a CAAHEP or ABHES completing student or recent graduate, your fee is $125. All others pay $250. All fees are nonrefundable and nontransferable.
Personal checks will not be accepted. Candidate fees must be paid by any of the following methods:
- Money order
- Credit card
- Debit card
- Cashier’s check
- Certified check
- Institution check
Applications submitted without proper payment will delay the scheduling of your exam appointment or may be returned to you.
Step 4: Prime Your e-mail
- Make sure you have provided an e-mail address that will be valid for the next year (school addresses often are closed after graduation).
- If you need to change your e-mail address, call the AAMA immediately at 800/228-2262.
- Add CMAExam@aama-ntl.org to your approved e-mail list.
- Check your spam or junk e-mail folder for CMA Exam e-mails.
Step 5: Schedule an Exam Appointment
After your application has been approved and processed, you will receive an e-mail with Scheduling Permit instructions no later than 20 days before your 90-day testing period begins.
You must do the following:
- Log in online and print out the Scheduling Permit.
- Use the Scheduling Permit to make an exam appointment.
- Bring the Scheduling Permit with you to your appointment.
Step 6: Study!
The most important thing you can do prior to taking the exam is study for it. Here are a few sources to get you started:
- Review the Content Outline for the exam. Use the Content Outline as a roadmap for tracking all the exam topics you need to study. Obtain current medical assisting publications that cover such areas as administrative and clinical procedures; anatomy and physiology; medical terminology; medico legal guidelines and regulations; and laboratory procedures.
- Take the AAMA practice exams to test your current knowledge in the categories of Anatomy and Physiology and Medical Terminology.
- Take a CMA (AAMA) Exam review course if there is one offered in your area by an accredited medical assisting program or by a local chapter of the AAMA. Membership in the AAMA will help you get connected to other medical assistants and medical assisting students. You’ll also receive mailings on local events.
Step 7: Pass the CMA (AAMA) Certification/Re-certification Examination
Once you pass the exam, you will receive an official certificate and wallet card to prove you have achieved your CMA (AAMA) credential. You’ll be able to put your name and credential on your résumé, and use the credential anywhere you apply for a medical assisting position across the nation. You’ll also be able to direct employers to the AAMA website where they can confirm your CMA (AAMA) status. And, you’ll feel the confidence of knowing you have earned the industry’s highest standard for the medical assisting profession: the CMA (AAMA).
Step 8:Keep your CMA (AAMA) Credential Current
To better ensure current competency and knowledge and thus better protect patients, you are required to re-certify your credential every 60 months. You may do so by examination or through continuing education. Become familiar with re-certification requirements so that you’re always up to date.
There are many online practice test available which you can complete and practice before your real test, a typical CMA certification exam contains the following:
The CMA certification is considered the highest standard of medical assistant credential. The CMA test is a computer-based exam with 200 multiple choice questions, of which 20 are unscored. The test-taker will have a total of 2 hours and 40 minutes to complete the exam.
The CMA exam covers the following topics:
- General: Medical Terminology, Anatomy and physiology, Psychology, Professionalism, Communication, Medico legal guidelines and requirements
- Administrative: Data entry, Equipment, Computer Concepts, Records Management, Screening and Processing Mail, Scheduling and monitoring appointments, Resource information and community services, Maintaining the office environment, Office policies and procedures, Practice finances
- Clinical: Principles of infection control, Treatment Area, Patient preparation and assisting the physician, Patient history interview, Collecting and processing specimens; diagnostic testing, Preparing and administering medications, Emergencies, First Aid, Nutrition.