To learn how to become a highly qualified medical assistant job in Connecticut, follow these steps:
|Complete a Connecticut Medical Assistant Education Program|
|Pass a Certification Examination|
|Pursue a Job and Maintain Your Medical Assistant Credential|
In a recent U.S News and World Report article, Danbury, Connecticut was named as offering one o the highest medical assistant salaries in the nation, at $39,430 (about $10,000 higher than the average national salary for medical assistants as of 2012). In May 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that Connecticut offered the fifth-highest salary in the nation for medical assistants, at $34,260. That year, there were 7160 medical assistants working in the state.
Although the Connecticut Department of Public Health has not drawn up a scope of practice document for medical assistants practicing in the state, they do have regulations about what can and cannot be performed by unlicensed health professionals such as medical assistants. Under Connecticut law, medical assistants, as unlicensed health professionals, may NOT:
- Administer medications
- Perform radiography
- Assess, diagnose, plan and evaluate patients/patient care
Medical assistants may:
- Collect data to be used by licensed health care professionals in diagnosis, treatment, care planning etc
- Offer health maintenance education not related to a diagnosis
- Assist in handling equipment in preparation for procedures or following up on procedures
Licensed health care professionals, such as nurses or physicians, must supervise medical assistants in Connecticut.
Step 1. Complete a Connecticut Medical Assistant Education Program
The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) does not license medical assistants in the state. However, they do provide advice and guidance for medical assistants, recommending that prospective medical assistants graduate from an accredited educational program. In Connecticut, there are two major accreditation bodies for such programs:
- Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) – Connecticut CAAHEP-accredited programs may be found in the following cities:
- East Hartford
- New London
- West Haven
- Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) – Connecticut ABHES-accredited programs may be found in the following cities:
- East Hartford
- Rocky Hill
Degrees offered at Connecticut medical assisting schools include:
- Certificate in Medical Assistant (Residential)
- Diploma in Medical Assisting (Residential and Distance Learning)
- Collegiate Certificate in Medical Assisting (Residential and Distance)
- Diploma in Professional Medical Assistant (Residential)
- Associate in Science in Medical Assisting
- Associate in Science in Medical Assisting – Insurance Option
- Associate of Applied Science in Executive Medical Assisting
- Associate of Science in Allied Health – Medical Assisting
Courses that you will take in any Connecticut medical assistant preparation program will hold titles such as:
- Human Biology
- Medical Terminology
- Law and Ethics for Health Care Careers
- Lab Principles for Medical Assisting
- Medical Insurance and Billing
- Social/Behavioral Science
- Principles of Pharmacology
- Computerized Medical Practice Management
- Clinical Medical Assisting
Medical Assisting Externship
During this part of your program, you will be placed into a real-life clinical setting in which you will get to put your medical assistant skills to practical use. Skills that you can expect to practice during this time include (but are not limited to):
- Applying legal concepts to the practice of health care
- Participating in operations
- Providing instruction to patients
- Communicating clearly and effectively
- Administrative duties (entry-level)
- Clinical duties (entry-level)
Step 2. Pass a Certification Examination
Connecticut law does not require that you become certified in order to work as a medical assistant. Without national certification by a recognized body, however, it may be difficult to meet minimum job requirements in Connecticut.
Some college medial assistant programs in Connecticut might offer you the chance to take a certification examination and become nationally certified prior to graduation. Others will prepare you to take the examination post-graduation.
The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) provides a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) certification examination, which is the most popular certification among Connecticut medical assistants. In order to take the exam, you must be a graduate of a CAAHEP- or ABHES-accredited medical assistant education program.
The exam is made up of 200 multiple-choice questions and is given in four segments that are each 40 minutes long. For an overview of the exam content, consult the CMA (AAMA) Certification/Recertification Examination Content Outline.
The CMA exam is administered at Prometric testing centers. In Connecticut, these are found in:
You will be notified of your test score as you complete the exam. Official scores are posted online about eight weeks post-exam. When you pass, the AAMA will mail you a certificate and wallet card certifying that you are now a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA). Your name will also be listed on the DPH website’s list of Connecticut residents certified by the American Association of Medical Assistants.
Other Medical Assistant Certifications Available
While CMA is the most popular credential among Connecticut medical assistants, there are other certifications that you can obtain. They include:
- RMA (Registered Medical Assistant) by the American Medical Technologists (AMT)
- CPC (Billing and Coding Certification) by the AAPC (American Academy of Professional Coders)
- MT (Medical Technologist) by the ASCP (American Society for Clinical Pathology)
- CPT (Current Procedural Technology) by the AAPC (American Academy of Professional Coders)
Step 3. Pursue a Job and Maintain Your Medical Assistant Credential
A CMA credential is valid for five years. Recertification involves either passing the Certification/Recertification Examination again or participating in the AAMA’s continuing education program. This entails fulfilling 60 points during five years, which may be made up of general, clinical and administrative activities, some of which must be AAMA-approved. More information on recertification by the AAMA may be found here.
The RMA credential is renewable each year with a fee of $50, and by completing 30 certification points every three years. This is called the AMT’s Certification Continuation Program (CCP). Clicking on the link can help to explain these points and activities that qualify for points in more detail.
Professional Organizations for Medical Assistants in Connecticut
The Connecticut Society of Medical Assistants is the leading professional organization for medical assistants working in Connecticut. It is the state’s affiliate of the American Association of Medical Assistants. The CSMA provides professional development and job opportunities to its members, as well as the chance to network with other medical assistants in the state.
Medical Assistant Jobs in Connecticut
Jobs for medical assistants in Connecticut may be found in a variety of health care settings. Examples include:
- University of Connecticut Health Center – Farmington
- Yale New Haven Health – New Haven
- TLC Pediatrics, LLC – Norwalk
- Stamford Hospital – Stamford
- Middlesex Hospital – Madison
- Western Connecticut Medical Group – Danbury
- New Milford Hospital – New Milford
- Saint Francis Care – Hartford
- Bristol Hospital-Bristol
- Vein Clinics of America – Glastonbury