How to Become a Medical Assistant in Massachusetts

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The United States Department of Labor is expecting the demand for medical assistants in Massachusetts to increase by 20 percent between 2008 and 2018. This amounts to an estimated average of 400 job openings for medical assistants in Massachusetts every year during that period.

In addition to strong job prospects, medical assistants in Massachusetts enjoy higher-than-average salaries as well. In fact, medical assistants in Massachusetts earn the third-highest salary in the field nationwide. The average annual salary of a Massachusetts medical assistant is $35,600 (May 2013) compared to the national average of just $30,780.

To become a fully qualified medical assistant in Massachusetts, consider following these steps:

Complete a Massachusetts Medical Assistant Education Program
Pass a National Certification Examination
Find a Medical Assistant Job in Massachusetts
Maintain Your Medical Assistant Certification



Step 1. Complete a Massachusetts Medical Assistant Education Program

Although Massachusetts state law does not stipulate specific education requirements for medical assistants, employers throughout Massachusetts look to retain job candidates with specialized training and education.

Furthermore, Massachusetts does not require medical assistants to be certified, but does recognize the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)- Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential as denoting competency. In order to become a CMA, you must graduate from an accredited program.

Medical assistant education programs in Massachusetts may be accredited by one of the following organizations:

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)

  • In Massachusetts, CAAHEP-accredited programs are found in the following cities:

    • West Barnstable
    • Fall River
    • North Adams
    • Canton
    • Gardner
    • Lowell
    • Danvers
    • Lawrence
    • West Boylston
    • Worcester
    • Springfield
    • South Easton
  • In Massachusetts, CAAHEP-accredited programs culminate in the following certificates, diplomas or degrees:

    • Certificate – Medical Assisting
    • Associate of Science- Medical Assisting

Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)

  • In Massachusetts, ABHES-accredited programs are found in the following cities:

    • Boston
    • Taunton
    • Springfield
    • Malden
    • Chicopee
    • Westborough
    • Canton
    • New Bedford
    • Fall River
  • In Massachusetts, ABHES-accredited programs culminate in the following certificates, diplomas or degrees:

    • Certificate – Professional Medical Assistant
    • Diploma – Medical Assisting
    • Diploma- Professional Medical Assisting
    • Associate of Science – Health Studies (Medical Assisting)

The curriculum for a Massachusetts medical assistant education program is similar regardless of the outcome (certificate, diploma or degree). Classes that you will take include:

  • Medical terminology
  • Mathematics
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Medical assisting lab procedures
  • Medical assisting clinical procedures
  • Psychology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pathopharmacology
  • Medical legal concepts, practices and ethics
  • Externship

During your externship, you will be placed into a school-approved clinical site where you will apply the knowledge you have learned in your medical assistant program. You may perform administrative procedures, clinical procedures and interact with other health care professionals and clients in a medical office or other clinical setting. The length of your externship will vary depending upon your school’s policies but will usually last about four weeks (160 hours). This externship is an unpaid experience.



Step 2. Pass a National Certification Examination

As noted above, national certification is not a requirement in order to work as a medical assistant in Massachusetts. However, Massachusetts does recognize Certified Medical Assistants (CMA), a credential conferred through the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). As your ABHES- or CAAHEP-accredited medical assistant program has already prepared you to take the CMA certification examination, this is the logical next step in your quest to become a medical assistant in Massachusetts.

To become a CMA, you must pass the CMA Certification/Recertification Exam. The AAMA has provided study resources to help you prepare for this examination. Once you are ready, apply online to take the exam. Exams are offered every month at Prometric testing centers. In Massachusetts, these centers are located in:

  • Boston
  • Burlington
  • Lowell
  • Worcester
  • North Andover
  • Brockton

When you pass the CMA exam, the AAMA will mail your certificate and wallet card identifying you as a nationally Certified Medical Assistant.



Step 3. Find a Medical Assistant Job in Massachusetts

Congratulations! You are now a Certified Medical Assistant in Massachusetts!

Consult your college’s career center for assistance, if necessary. Medical centers, offices, and clinics are located all across the state of Massachusetts, with higher concentrations in larger cities such as Boston.

Examples of facilities that employ medical assistants in Massachusetts include:

  • South Shore Hospital-South Weymouth
  • Manet Community Health Center – Quincy
  • Tufts Medical Center – Boston
  • Signature Healthcare – Brockton
  • Boston Medical Center – Boston
  • GK Dermatology, PC – Weymouth
  • Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates – Quincy
  • Westwood-Mansfield Pediatrics – Westwood
  • About Women By Women – Wellesley
  • Brigham & Women’s Faulkner Hospital- Boston
  • Harbor Health Services – Hyannis
  • UMass Memorial Medical Center – Worcester
  • Hallmark Health System – Medford
  • Lowell Community Health Center – Lowell



Step 4. Maintain Your Medical Assistant Certification

Now that you are a Certified Medical Assistant in Massachusetts, what must you do to maintain that credential? You definitely do not want to let it lapse or mishandle your credential.

Your CMA credential is valid for five years, at which time you must recertify. You must pay the AAMA’s recertification fee and pass an examination or fulfill continuing education requirements. The examination you must pass is the same one you took to become certified. Some CMAs choose this route for recertification.

If you decide to pursue continuing education, you must complete 60 points within the five years that your CMA credential is valid. Half of these points must come from AAMA-approved continuing education units (CEUs).

Professional Organizations for Medical Assistants in Massachusetts

Consider joining a professional organization for medical assistants in Massachusetts. The leading one in the Commonwealth is the AAMA’s state chapter, the Massachusetts Society of Medical Assistants. This association’s purpose is to help Massachusetts medical assistants to enhance their skills, knowledge and professionalism. It also was designed to protect the right of the Massachusetts medical assistant to practice, as well as to promote more efficient and effective health care delivery by recommending that all Massachusetts medical assistants become CMAs.

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