How to Become a Medical Assistant in Maryland

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To learn how to become a medical assistant in Maryland, follow the steps in this guide:

Complete a Medical Assistant Education Program in Maryland
Consider the Certification Examination
Network for Employment and Maintain Your Credentials

According to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, the number of medical assistant jobs in the state is expected to increase by 597 (including replacement and new job openings) during the current ten-year period ending 2022. This represents an average of 60 new jobs each year during this period.

In Maryland, all medical assistants must work directly under a delegating physician’s supervision. Technical acts that you are legally allowed to perform under this supervision include:

  • Surgical technical acts
  • Nonsurgical technical acts
  • Patient preparation for physical exam
  • Collection of and processing specimens/phlebotomy
  • Patient history interview
  • Microbiology specimens
  • Clinical tests like electrocardiography, TB tests
  • Preparation of and administration of oral drugs
  • Injecting of intravenous drugs with supervision

A Maryland medical assistant may not:

  • Conduct a physical exam
  • Administer an anesthetic agent of conscious sedation (other than topical or local anesthetic)
  • Dispense medications
  • Provide physical therapy services
  • Give medical advice without consulting physician
  • Initiate independent treatment except CPR

Medical assisting is part of the Health Manpower Shortage Program designated by the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC). This means that you may be eligible for reimbursement of some of the educational costs associated with becoming a medical assistant in Maryland.



Step 1. Complete a Medical Assistant Education Program in Maryland

Completion of an accredited medical assistant program is necessary in order to take the certification test given by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) (see Step 2 below), which is a requirement of many of the state’s healthcare providers when hiring medical assistants.

Medical assistant program in Maryland recognized by accreditation bodies are located in the following cities:

  • Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) recognizes a campus-based program in Towson, as well as online.
  • Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) recognizes online programs, as well as campus-based programs located in:
    • North East
    • Hagerstown
    • Bel Air
    • Arnold
    • Cumberland

The type of diploma, certificate or degree you obtain is your choice. As long as you complete an accredited program, you will be eligible to take the AAMA certification test. Examples of degrees, certificates and diplomas that are available at accredited schools in Maryland include:

  • Certificate in Medical Assisting
  • Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assistant
  • Associate of Arts in Medical Assisting

Regardless of the certificate or degree you earn, a medical assistant program in Maryland will include classes on the following subjects:

  • Patient education
  • Medical law, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPA)
  • Pharmacology
  • Medication administration
  • Office practices and administration
  • First aid and CPR
  • Ethics
  • Electronic Health Records
  • EKG testing
  • Clinical and diagnostic procedures
  • Laboratory techniques
  • Computer applications
  • Medical terminology
  • Human anatomy, pathology and physiology

Additionally, most Medical Assistant programs in Maryland will require you to complete a practicum, in which you will be placed into a real-life healthcare facility to practice your skills. The length of your practicum will vary from 200 to 500 hours, depending upon your certificate/degree program.

Examples of some Maryland medical facilities that might host your practicum include:

  • University of Maryland Medical Center – Baltimore
  • Johns Hopkins Hospital – Baltimore
  • Cumberland Outpatient Clinic – Cumberland
  • Doctor’s offices in any Maryland city
  • Allergy and Asthma Center – Silver Spring
  • Cardiology Associates – Olney
  • Saint Agnes Hospital – Columbia
  • Patient First – Owings Mills



Step 2. Consider the Certification Examination

Most employers in Maryland will check to make sure that you are certified by the nationally recognized “gold standard” certification agency, the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).

When you finish your accredited medical assisting program in Maryland, the program director will recommend you to the AAMA, and you will be eligible to take the exam (or use the paper application found within the Candidate Application and Handbook).

If you graduated more than 12 months before applying to take the exam, you are considered to be a non-recent graduate and must send an official transcript along with your application. You may apply online to take the exam. Make sure to:

  • Send in your application fee of $125 via money order, cashier/certified check, institution check, credit or debit card
  • Apply in a timely matter-see the Candidate Application and Handbook – for example, to take the exam in January you must have your application mailed by September 20 of the previous year

Mail fees, your completed application, and any required documentation such as transcripts to AAMA Certification, 7999 Eagle Way, Chicago, IL 60678-1079.

Once the AAMA Certification Department has received your application, you will receive an email within 30 days. If your application is complete, you will be assigned a 90-day testing period and be classified as “Registered.” If your application is incomplete, you will be told what is needed to complete it. You will receive an email containing your Scheduling Permit, allowing you to schedule to take the exam at a Prometric testing center. In Maryland, the test is offered at centers located in:

  • Columbia
  • Landover
  • Baltimore
  • Bethesda
  • Towson
  • Salisbury

You will learn your exam score at the Prometric center as soon as you have completed it. Official scores will be posted online within eight weeks of taking the test. If you pass, your certificate and wallet card will be mailed to you by the AAMA, and you will officially be a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA).

Other Certification Options in Maryland

There are other organizations that offer certification for medical assistants in Maryland besides the AAMA. They include:

  • American Medical Technologists – offers the RMA (Registered Medical Assistant) Requires graduation from a medical assistant program accredited by a regional or national agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Program must be 720 clock hours long, and include a practicum of at least 160 hours.
  • National Center for Competency Testing – offers the NCMA (Nationally Certified Medical Assistant) You must be a recent graduate or student at a recognized school to take the exam.
  • National Health Career Association – offers the CCMA (Certified Clinical Medical Assistant)



Step 3. Network for Employment and Maintain Your Credentials

The CMA credential is valid for 60 months. Recertification through the AAMA requires that you hold a current CMA credential and complete one of the following routes:

  • Recertification by Examination– this involves passing the same certification examination you originally took to become certified.
  • Recertification by Continuing Education – complete the AAMA Recertification by Continuing Education Application. If you choose this route, you must have accumulated 60 recertification points over the five years of your CMA credential’s validity. These must include:
    • 10 administrative points
    • 10 general points
    • 10 clinical points
    • 30 points from a combination of the above categories
    • At least 30 of the 60 points must be from AAMA-approved continuing education units (CEUs)
    • Continuing education must be documented:
      • For AAMA-approved CEUs, you will receive an AAMA Registry Transcript
      • For non-AAMA points, you must have official documentation from the activity, including the date, name of sponsor, course description, amount/type of credit, and a certificate of attendance or completion
      • This documentation must be mailed to the AAMA when you recertify

Professional Organizations for Medical Assistants in Maryland

You should consider joining a professional organization for Maryland medical assistants. Such organizations can provide networking opportunities, job leads, and continuing education activities. The top organization in Maryland is the Maryland Society of Medical Assistants. Meetings are held in Baltimore and Glen Burnie (Chesapeake Bay Chapter).

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