According to state law, physicians in Louisiana are allowed to employ medical assistants as they see fit. Medical assistants in Louisiana are not required to be certified or licensed; however, to work as a medical assistant who takes blood or performs certain laboratory procedures you will need to work with the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners to obtain an appropriate license.
Aside from these niche licenses as a phlebotomist or lab assistant, employers of medical assistants will commonly prefer or require one of the following:
- Previous work experience as a medical assistant
- Completion of a military medical assistant training program
- An associate’s of science medical assistant degree or academic certificate
- Medical assistant national certification
To become a qualified candidate for medical assistant jobs in Louisiana you will need to complete these steps:
Step 1. Pursue an Education in Medical Assisting
An associate’s degree or academic certificate in medical assisting is the common denominator for career advancement, promotion, and professional certification. As you consider where you want to study, keep in mind that many professional certifications require you to complete your education from an accredited medical assistant program.
Medical assistant programs are accredited through the following agencies:
- Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
- Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
Whichever medical assistant school in Louisiana you choose, you can expect a curriculum that will include subjects such as:
- Medical communication and terminology
- Human body structure and function
- Anatomy and physiology
- Ethics and law for medical assistants
- Medical assistant computer applications
- Medical assistant clinical and administrative procedures
- Medical transcription
- Pharmacology for medical assistants
- Medical insurance billing
- Business English and mathematics
- Medical assistant internship or practicum
Step 2. Learn About Additional Medical Assistant Qualifications in Louisiana
Since Louisiana state law restricts medical assistants when it comes to working with blood or in a laboratory environment, you may want to consider licensure as a phlebotomist or lab assistant through the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners. This additional licensure is an optional way to add additional qualifications to your résumé and expand your range of skills, however it is not a requirement to work as a medical assistant.
To become a licensed phlebotomist or lab assistant you will need to meet the following requirements:
- Complete a training program in basic laboratory science
- Pass a test demonstrating you possess essential knowledge of laboratory science
- Have at least a high school education
Phlebotomist – complete one of the following options:
- Option 1:
- Complete a phlebotomist training program that includes at least 20 hours of classroom lecture or the necessary amount of clinical practice
- Pass a phlebotomist test following completion of the training program
- Option 2:
- Earn a phlebotomist certification through a nationally recognized agency that includes passing an exam
Once you have accomplished this, you can fill out a Clinical Lab Personnel Application Packet and submit it to the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners in New Orleans.
This application is the same for both phlebotomists and lab assistants.
Step 3. Consider Pursuing a National Professional Medical Assistant Certification
As a prospective medical assistant who has completed an accredited medical assistant education program, you will have the option to pursue medical assistant certification from a variety of national agencies.
Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
One of the most prominent credentials is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), sponsored by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). You will need to meet the following requirements to be eligible for this certification:
- Graduate from a medical assistant training program approved by CAAHEP or ABHES
- Pass the Certified Medical Assistant Exam
The CMA Exam is made up of 200 multiple-choice questions you will need to complete in 160 minutes. These questions are taken from three main areas:
- General medical assistant subjects
- Clinical medical assistant subjects
- Administrative medical assistant subjects
Additional Medical Assistant Certifications
You can also choose from several other national medical assistant certification programs available to Louisiana residents. Some of these include:
- Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) – sponsored by American Medical Technologists (AMT)
- Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA) – sponsored by the National Association of Health Professionals (NAHP)
- Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) – sponsored by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Medical Assistant (NCMA) – sponsored by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)
To earn these certifications you will typically need to pass an exam that is sponsored by the accrediting agency and meet one of the following paths of eligibility:
- Graduate from an accredited medical assistant education program
- Complete a medical assistant training program as part of US Military service
- Have several years of work experience as a medical assistant or medical assistant instructor
- Have earned a similar credential from another national certification organization
Step 4. Research the Medical Assistant Job Market in Louisiana
Medical assistants in Louisiana can provide their valuable skills virtually anywhere health and medical services are offered. This includes the following concentrations of professionals in Louisiana’s larger metropolitan areas:
- 2,050 medical assistants in the New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner area
- 1,200 medical assistants in Baton Rouge
- 590 medical assistants in the Shreveport-Bossier City area
- 480 medical assistants in Lafayette
- 460 medical assistants in the New Iberia non-metro area
- 410 medical assistants in the Hammond non-metro area
- 340 medical assistants in Lake Charles
- 300 medical assistants in the Houma-Bayou Cane-Thibodaux area
- 180 medical assistants in the Natchitoches non-metro area
- 160 medical assistants in Alexandria
- 140 medical assistants in Monroe
A recent sampling of medical assistant job announcements from across Louisiana revealed the following information about the demand for different types of qualifications:
- Saint Elizabeth Hospital in Baton Rouge was recently seeking a medical assistant who was either a graduate of an accredited medical assistant program or who had at least one year of medical assistant work experience.
- West Jefferson Medical Center in Marrero recently posted a medical assistant job description that included the following minimum requirements:
- Medical assistant certification
- One year of directly related experience
- High school diploma
- The North Oaks Health System in Hammond recently placed an ad for a medical assistant who had completed a clinical training program in one of the following:
- Medical assisting
Step 5. Maintain and Upgrade Your Medical Assisting Credentials
To maintain a phlebotomist or laboratory assistant license issued by the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners you will need to meet the following requirements:
- Complete a renewal application every year before your license expires – this can be done online and by mail
- Pay a $40 renewal fee
- Complete at least 12 hours of continuing education – this can be in the form of any of the following:
- Professional meetings
- Audio conferences and teleconferences
- Self-study courses
- Training programs
- Relevant college coursework
To renew a professional certification you will need to meet the maintenance requirements set forth by each individual credentialing agency:
- CMA – you will need to renew this every five years. To accomplish this you need to earn 60 re-certification points, including 30 points from AAMA-approved continuing education units, or you can retake the CMA Exam.
- RMA – to renew this credential you will need to maintain a yearly membership with AMT and complete 30 Certification Continuing Program (CCP) points every three years.
- NRCMA – to renew this you need to maintain a yearly membership with the NAHP and keep you a CPR card up-to-date. You also need to complete at least two A class Continuing Education Units (CEUs) each year, except during your first renewal year.
- CCMA – to renew this credential you need to complete 10 Continuing Education (CE) credits every two years.
- NCMA – to renew this credential you will need to complete a series of annual Continuing Education (CE) that is approved by the NCCT.
Because earning a relevant college education is often one of the ways you can renew your professional license or certification, this can be a motivating factor for advancing your education. Earning a bachelor’s degree in a field related to medical sciences can not only count towards renewal requirements, it will also improve your professional qualifications and open up additional career possibilities.