How to Become a Medical Assistant in Kentucky

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Medical assistants are at the leading edge of Kentucky’s health and medical services industries – two of the fastest growing economic sectors in the state. In 2013 there were approximately 7,830 medical assistants providing their valuable services at locations throughout the state.

Kentucky law does not regulate the medical assistant occupation to the extent that it enforces licensure requirements of any kind. However the absence of state regulation is made up for by the fact that employers typically maintain strict qualification requirements:

  • Graduation from a medical assistant certification program
  • Completion of an associate’s of science medical assistant degree
  • Completion of a medical assistant military training program
  • Experience working as a medical assistant or in a closely related field

Being a successful applicant for medical assistant jobs in Kentucky comes down to distinguishing yourself from your competitors. To become a competitive and well-qualified candidate you may choose to follow these steps:

Become a Qualified Medical Assistant Through Education
Consider Testing for National Certification
Research Kentucky’s Job Market
Maintain and Improve Your Qualifications



Step 1. Become a Qualified Medical Assistant Through Education

Attending one of the many medical assistant schools in Kentucky and earning an associate’s degree or certificate will help you develop the relevant skills employers are looking for.

If you intend to pursue nationally recognized professional certifications, you will need to graduate from an academic program that is accredited by one of the following agencies:

  • Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
  • Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)

There are more than a dozen of these medical assistant training programs in Kentucky.

As you study to become a medical assistant you will take classes that focus on:

  • English and psychology
  • Business mathematics
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Medical law and ethics
  • Medical terminology
  • Medical office administration
  • Electronic records management
  • Medical assistant laboratory procedures
  • Medical assistant clinical procedures
  • Medical assisting techniques
  • Medical assistant pharmacology
  • Medical insurance billing and coding
  • Health, safety, and emergency procedures
  • Medical assistant practicum, internship, or externship



Step 2. Consider Testing for National Certification

Once you have completed a medical assistant academic program you will have a range of certification options open to you. Kentucky residents can choose among many national programs that each offer respected medical assistant credentials. These include the following credentials and their sponsors:

Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) – sponsored by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). Eligibility requirements are:

Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) – sponsored by American Medical Technologists (AMT). Eligibility requirements are:

  • Pass the RMA Exam
  • Complete one of the paths to eligibility for the RMA:
    • Graduate from an accredited academic program that has at least 720 hours of study related to medical assisting, with at least 160 hours of a clinical externship
    • Graduate from a US Military medical services training program
    • Be a high school graduate with at least five years of work experience as a medical assistant, including both clinical and administrative duties
    • Be a medical assistant professor with at least five years of teaching experience
    • Be a medical assistant profession with multiple years of clinical medical assisting experience
    • Earn another agency’s medical assisting certification that includes passing an exam; this route will exempt you from having to take the RMA Exam

The Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA) – sponsored by the National Association of Health Professionals (NAHP). Eligibility requirements are:

  • Register for and pass the NRCMA Exam
  • Meet one of the following paths to eligibility:
    • Have two years of experience in the US Military as a medical assistant equivalent
    • Graduate from an approved medical assistant course of study
    • Have at least two years of work experience as a medical assistant with a positive recommendation from your employer

Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) – sponsored by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). Eligibility requirements are:

Medical Assistant (NCMA) – sponsored by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). Eligibility requirements are:

  • Pass the NCMA Exam
  • Meet one of the following routes of eligibility:
    • Graduate from a medical assistant academic program approved by the NCCT
    • Have two years of full-time work experience as a medical assistant
    • Work as a medical assistant equivalent in the US Military
    • Be a highly qualified medical professional from a foreign country, such as a nurse or doctor
    • Have at least 10 years of experience as a medical assistant professor
    • Earn another agency’s medical assistant certification



Step 3. Research Kentucky’s Job Market

While there are many guides that offer direction on how to become a medical assistant in Kentucky, the ultimate hiring decision will be made by your future employer. The best way to get a sense of what employers are looking for in a medical assistant is to look at recent job ads in this field. The following is a sampling of job requirements from across Kentucky:

  • Baptist Pulmonary Associates in Lexington was recently looking to fill a Medical Assistant/X-Ray Machine Operator position. One of the ways to qualify for this position was by having a current medical assistant certification, being a graduate of a medical assistant program, and having a Limited X-Ray Machine Operator Certificate.
  • Methodist Hospital in Henderson recently posted a medical assistant job description that stated the following minimum requirements for hire:
    • Graduation from a medical assistant training program
    • Graduation from high school or a GED program
    • Excellent interpersonal and multitasking capabilities

  • The Orthopedic Surgery Department at the University of Louisville Physicians was recently seeking a medical assistant with the following minimum qualifications:
    • One of the following certifications:

    • High school diploma or GED
    • Completion of a medical office externship or at least one year of work experience in a medical facility

Hospitals and physician offices are some of the most common employers of medical assistants. These professionals are concentrated as follows throughout the state:

  • 4,280 medical assistants in the Middletown-Cincinnati greater metropolitan area
  • 2,660 medical assistants in the Louisville-Jefferson County metropolitan area
  • 1,060 medical assistants in the Lexington-Fayette metropolitan area
  • 760 medical assistants in the Ashland metropolitan area
  • 280 medical assistants in Bowling Green
  • 200 medical assistants in Elizabethtown
  • 200 medical assistants in Owensboro

As you consider the job market in Kentucky, keep in mind that professional organizations that sponsor medical assistant certifications may also be valuable local resources for Kentucky information regarding employment and professional development.



Step 4. Maintain and Improve Your Qualifications

Many medical assistant employers will require that you complete a specific set of continuing education or professional development activities in order to maintain your employment. You may also be required to maintain a medical assistant professional certification. Each type of credential has its own maintenance requirements as follows:

  • The CMA credential must be renewed every five years. To do this you will need to either retake the CMA Exam or earn 60 re-certification points, with at least 30 of these being from AAMA-approved continuing education units.
  • To maintain the RMA credential you need to maintain an annual membership with the AMT as well as complete 30 Certification Continuing Program (CCP) points every three years.
  • To renew the NRCMA credential you will need to maintain a current CPR card and an annual membership with the NAHP. You also need to complete at least two Class A Continuing Education Units (CEUs) each year, except during your first year of holding the NRCMA credential.
  • To maintain the CCMA credential you need to earn at least 10 Continuing Education (CE) credits biannually.
  • To maintain the NCMA credential you must complete annual Continuing Education (CE) that is approved by the NCCT.

Many Kentucky medical assistants start by earning essential qualifications for employment and move on to develop their skills with higher education. An associate’s degree in medical assisting can lead to a bachelor degree in the field of medical sciences and open up many new career opportunities. Earning a more advanced degree is also a convenient way to fulfill many maintenance requirements for professional medical assistant certifications.

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