Podiatrists, gynecologists, general physicians, ophthalmologists…Delaware practitioners of every variety rely on medical assistants to ensure their practices run smoothly. And according to the Delaware Department of Labor, jobs in this field should grow by an impressive 5% during the short period between 2019 and 2021.
With about 360 medical assistant job openings here annually due to a combination of retirements, natural turnover in the profession, and new job creation, chances are good that there’ll be plenty of room for you to make a difference in Delaware’s medical assisting field once you’ve got the required education and training.
Don’t let Delaware’s diminutive size fool you; there’s plenty of opportunities in medical assisting to go around, both now and in the coming years.
Follow these steps to become a well-qualified medical assistant in Delaware:
|Complete a Delaware Medical Assistant Education Program|
|Consider Earning National Certification|
|Land a Job in Medical Assisting You’ll Love|
|Maintain Your Medical Assistant Credentials|
Step 1. Complete a Delaware Medical Assistant Education Program
Delaware, like most states, does not license medical assistants; instead, employers take it upon themselves to set requirements for the MAs they hire. More often than not, employers expect job candidates to have completed a formal medical assisting training program and passed a national certification exam.
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) are the accreditation agencies you’ll want to keep in mind when it comes time to find a program. CAAHEP- and ABHES-accredited programs must meet strict coursework and practical training requirements. Choose an accredited program and you can feel confident knowing that it will provide you with a complete course of training and prepare you for national certification exams.
Accredited programs in medical assisting include certificate, diploma, and associate degree programs, all of which provide a similar course of education and practical training in medical assisting.
Though the titles of the courses they offer may differ a bit from one school to the next, the competencies and skills you’ll develop are the same and include:
- Effective verbal, written and nonverbal communication and education skills with patients, families, and professionals
- Professional patterns of behavior consistent with the code of ethics
- Use of independent judgment and critical thinking
- Use of computer technology, scientific and mathematical reasoning
- Use of information effectively
- Good problem solving and reasoning skills
The internship/field experience part of your program will be held at a participating medical facility and will prepare you in the following skills:
- Administrative and clerical duties like scheduling, receiving patients, maintaining medical records, managing finances
- Clinical duties like obtaining patient data for medical history and treatment, interviewing patients for medical histories, performing laboratory testing and collecting results/specimens, recording patient vital signs, and assisting health professionals with clinical procedures
- Preparing the examination room
- Filing insurance forms
Certificate and diploma programs take about 10-12 months to complete, compared to about two years for an associate’s, which includes a general education core in addition to MA courses. These general education courses are not only designed to make you a more well-rounded professional, particularly in the areas of written and verbal communications, they may set you up for better professional opportunities and more earning power.
Many medical assistants with goals of advancing their education to the bachelor’s level at some point choose the Associate of Science (AS) in Medical Assisting, as most of the courses can easily transfer to a bachelor’s degree in an allied health area of study. Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees are also widely available in medical assisting, but since these are career training programs the credits aren’t usually transferrable.
Step 2. Consider Earning National Certification
While not a requirement to practice, national certification is one of the best ways to show your commitment to the field and your advanced level of knowledge in medical assisting, which is always beneficial when it comes time to land a job or ask for a raise.
The two biggest names in national certification are the American Association of Medical Assistants’ (AAMA) Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) and the American Medical Technologists’ (AMT) Registered Medical Assistant (RMA), both of which require earning eligibility through education and/or experience and passing a certification examination.
Reviewing the CMA (AAMA) Certification/Recertification Examination Content Outline will help you prepare to take this exam. The only Prometric testing center in Delaware offering the test is located in New Castle. You can take it at any participating Prometric center, however, such as in nearby Maryland or Pennsylvania.
You’ll take the RMA exam at participating Pearson VUE testing centers. In Delaware, these include Newark and Dover, with many additional testing centers located in nearby Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Other respected general and specialty certification options include:
- National Healthcare Association: Certified Clinical Medical Assistant
- National Center for Competency Testing: The National Certified Medical Assistant
- The Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel In Ophthalmology: Certified Ophthalmic Assistant
- The American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistants: Podiatric Medical Assistant, Certified
Step 3. Land a Job in Medical Assisting You’ll Love
Congratulations! You have completed your medical assistant education and are nationally certified! You are now ready to find a medical assistant job in Delaware.
You’ll find exciting job opportunities through some of the state’s largest healthcare systems, medical groups, and clinics, such as:
- Beebe Healthcare – Lewes
- Christiana Care – Newark and Camden
- Westside Family Healthcare- Bear
- Nanticoke Memorial Hospital – Seaford
- Bayhealth Medical Center – Dover
- Francis Hospital- Wilmington
- Bayada Home Health Care – Hockessin
- Delaware Hospice- Newark
- HCR Manor Care – Wilmington
- Dover Air Force Base – Dover
- Fresenius Medical Care- Seaford
- Urology Associates of Dover – Dover
- Nemours- Wilmington
- Department of Veterans Affairs- Wilmington
- HealthSouth Corporation – Middletown
- Liberty Health Care – Georgetown
- Alfieri Cardiology – Wilmington
- Brookdale – Newark
Step 4. Maintain Your Medical Assistant Credentials
You’ll need to stay on top of your national certification’s renewal requirements, which usually includes the completion of continuing education.
The CMA credential, which is valid for five years, is renewed by either retaking the certification examination or by fulfilling 60 continuing education points over five years. Details on this program are available here.
Your RMA credential renews annually, but you must complete 30 certification points every three years to maintain it. Check out their Certification Continuation Program (CCP) for more information.
State professional associations are the best way to find continuing education opportunities and connect with others in the profession. While Delaware does not have its own state chapter of the American Association of Medical Assistants, the AAMA recommends joining the national AAMA association. If you would like information on joining the AAMA or starting a Delaware chapter of the AAMA, contact the AAMA Membership Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
American Medical Technologists has a DC/DE/MD State Society for RMAs.
2019 job growth projections from the Delaware Department of Labor are aggregated through the U.S. Department of Labor-Sponsored resource, Projections Central. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
All salary and employment data accessed July 2020.