To be a competitive applicant for medical assistant jobs in Alabama, you may be best served by completing the following steps:
|Complete an Accredited Program in Medical Assisting|
|Earn a Nationally Recognized Credential|
|Learn More about Medical Assisting in Alabama|
According to the Alabama Department of Labor, there are 6,810 medical assistants currently employed in the state, making up a significant portion of the 50,000 state residents working in healthcare support occupations.
Although Alabama does not have specific state laws expressly governing the practice of medical assisting, these support professionals are mentioned in the state’s registered nurse and licensed practical nurse scope of practice guidelines. As stated in these guidelines, certified medical assistants in Alabama may relay medical orders received from the legally authorized prescriber to the registered nurse or licensed practical nurse.
Despite the lack of legislative language, medical assistants in Alabama are not restricted from performing specific medical assisting tasks, so long as they do so under the direct supervision of licensed physicians or other licensed healthcare practitioners.
Although medical assistants in Alabama are not required to attain or maintain specific credentialing or education, these allied health professionals may experience more success and advancement in the profession after completing a medical assisting program and national certification.
Step 1. Complete an Accredited Program in Medical Assisting
Medical assisting programs in Alabama may be of the certificate, diploma, or associate degree variety.
In general, you can expect an associate degree program in medical assisting to last about 2 years and culminate in a clinical experience. Certificate programs are often shorter in length than diploma programs (about 10 months vs. 1 year), although choosing a diploma program over a certificate program may be the ideal choice if you plan to earn an associate’s degree in the future, as credits are usually transferrable.
Pursuing a program that is accredited by a recognized accrediting body, such as the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) ensures that you are prepared as an entry-level medical assistant and have acquired the knowledge necessary to succeed when taking a national certification examination.
To date, there are 12 programs accredited by the ABHES in Alabama, 4 of which are associate degree programs and 8 of which are diploma programs. To date, there are 4 programs accredited by the CAAHEP in Alabama, all of which are associate degree programs.
Step 2. Earn a Nationally Recognized Credential
In states such as Alabama where there are no specific requirements for medical assistants, holding a nationally recognized credential is the ideal way to show advanced knowledge and expertise in the profession. The two most widely recognized credentials for medical assistants include:
You may achieve the CMA credential through the AAMA by completing a CAAHEP or ABHES-accredited medical assisting program, including a practicum. You may take the CMA examination up to 90 days before your graduation. Once eligible, you may apply for the examination. After applying to take the CMA, you will receive a scheduling permit from the AAMA, at which time you can schedule your exam appointment at a Prometric testing center.
- American Medical Technologist’s (AMT) certification programs, including the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credential.
To be eligible to take the RMA exam, you must have completed a medical assisting program approved by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education. The program must consist of at least 720 program clock hours in medical assisting and a clinical externship of at least 160 hours within the past 4 years. Candidates may also qualify through experience or by completing a formal medical services training program through the U.S. Armed Forces.
The RMA examination is taken through Pearson Vue Testing Centers. Schedule your examination as soon as you meet the requirements so you can select your preferred test time, date, and location.
Step 3. Learn More about Medical Assisting in Alabama
Becoming a member of an Alabama medical assistant association, such as the Alabama Chapter of the AAMA, is a great way to stay connected with the latest happenings and with other professionals in the industry.
Alabama AAMA chapters include:
- Central Alabama
- North Alabama
- Northeast Alabama
- North Central Alabama
- Southeast Alabama
- Northeast Alabama
Medical assistants are found working throughout the Alabama’s largest medical groups, such as:
- Tanner Medical Group, Atlanta
- University of South Alabama Physician’s Group, Mobile
- Physician Network, Providence Hospital, Mobile
- Southview Medical Group, Birmingham