From Cleveland to Cincinnati, Ohio’s medical assistants lend their unique skillset to settings that range from the largest physician practices to the smallest clinics. Answering phones, setting up the exam room, overseeing billing and correspondence issues, scheduling patients…it’s all in a day’s work for these trusted healthcare support professionals here in the Buckeye State.
If you’re considering a career in medical assisting in Ohio, you’ll be pleased to know that their value, along with their numbers, are growing exponentially, thanks to a healthcare industry that keeps expanding to meet the demands for more healthcare services.
According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, the number of medical assistants will grow by 5% in just the few, short years between 2019 and 2021 – that’s little surprise in a state where no less than three major health systems – the Cleveland Clinic, OSU Wexner Medical Center, and OhioHealth – have either recently expanded their healthcare delivery footprint, or are otherwise planning to expand.
With good news like this, there may be no better time to step off the sidelines and get in the game with the education and national credentials you’ll need to join the ranks of Ohio’s medical assistants.
Here are the steps you’ll need to take to get you there:
|Complete an Accredited Medical Assistant Program|
|Earn National Certification|
|Maintain Your Medical Assistant Qualifications|
The following Ohio regulations detail the types of tasks that supervising health professionals may delegate to medical assistants:
- Physicians may only delegate tasks to medical assistants deemed competent to perform the task
- Medical assistants can only perform tasks that do not require the exercise of medical judgment
- Physicians must provide an appropriate level of supervision over a medical assistant
- The delegated task must be able to be safely performed
- The delegated task is able to be performed without the need to make complex observations or critical decisions
- Delegated tasks must be of the variety that would not result in serious harm to the patient if they were to be performed improperly
Step 1. Pursue a Formal Medical Assistant Education
The completion of an accredited program is the first step to a rewarding career in medical assisting.
Accreditation through either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) is your guarantee that the program includes the education and practical training you’ll need to serve as a competent, entry-level medical assistant. Completing an accredited program also ensures your eligibility for national certification.
There are currently 38 CAAHEP-accredited medical assisting programs and 12 ABHES-accredited medical assisting programs in Ohio.
These programs include courses that cover:
- Infection control and surgical procedures
- Medical law and ethics
- Health insurance
- Basic medical coding
- Clinical laboratory procedures
- Medical assistant administrative procedures
- Medical assisting externship or practicum
Both the CAAHEP and the ABHES accredit certificate, diploma, and associate degree programs, and all include a similar course of education and training in medical assisting. However, while certificate and diploma programs take just 10-12 months to complete, associate degree programs take 2 years to complete because they also include a general education core – a set of courses that covers mathematics, the physical sciences, the social sciences, communications, and more.
Employers often prefer candidates who have completed an associate’s degree program because the addition of this general education core produces well-rounded medical assistants with stronger verbal and written communication skills.
An associate’s degree has also become a popular choice among medical assistants because it often results in better job opportunities and higher wages. And because the courses of an Associate of Science (AS) degree easily transfer to a bachelor’s degree in a healthcare-related field like healthcare administration, public health, and public administration, it’s a smart choice among medical assistants with goals of advancing their education at some point.
Step 2. Earn National Certification
National certification may not be necessary to practice as a medical assistant in Ohio, but you can be sure you’ll find many employers that require (or at least prefer) medical assistants who’ve earned one or more national designations in medical assisting.
After you qualify for national certification by completing an accredited medical assisting program, you must take and pass a national certification examination to earn a national designation.
- Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)through the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)
- Pass the Certified Medical Assistant Exam
- Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)through the American Medical Technologists (AMT)
- Pass the RMA Exam
- Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)through the National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pass the CCMA Exam
- National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA)through the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)
- Pass the NCMA Exam
- Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA)through the National Association of Health Professionals (NAHP)
- Pass the NRCMA Exam
Step 3. Maintain Your Medical Assistant Qualifications
You’ll need to maintain and renew your national certification:
- CMA – Must be renewed every five years by either retaking the CMA Exam or earning 60 re-certification points with at least 30 of these from AAMA-approved continuing education units
- RMA – Must earn 30 Certification Continuing Program (CCP) points every three years and maintain a yearly membership with AMT
- CCMA – Must earn at least 10 Continuing Education (CE) credits every two years
- NCMA – Must complete the required annual Continuing Education (CE) approved by the NCCT
- NRCMA – Must maintain a current CPR card and annual membership with the NAHP and complete at least two Class-A Continuing Education Units (CEUs) each year
Stay connected with your colleagues, remain in the know about the latest happenings in the profession, and find fantastic continuing education opportunities by becoming a member of a professional association like the Ohio State Society of Medical Assistants (OSSMA).
2019 job growth projections from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services 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.