How to Become a Medical Assistant in Ohio

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.

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At the beginning of their careers, medical assistants in Ohio earn about $17.71 per hour on average (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). However, this number can be expected to grow as they gain experience and take on more responsibilities. Medical assistants with an Associate’s degree may have brighter prospects for employment in Ohio, as the employer base of medical assistants is expected to expand by 25% from 2012 to 2022.

Being a medical assistant in Ohio also means having the opportunity to put your skills and knowledge of healthcare to work, with many organizations actively seeking graduates from accredited education programs.

The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) licenses medical assistants through the state Board of Career Colleges and Schools. Aspiring assistants must complete an approved program to become certified in Ohio, which can take up to 2 years depending on the school’s schedule.

The number of medical assistants will grow by 4.8% in just the few, short years between 2020 and 2022 – 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. Let’s take a look at the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s (ODHE) requirements for certification and licensure, as well as how you can get started on your path to becoming one of these valued members of Ohio’s medical community.

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.

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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.

An associate’s degree has also become a popular choice among medical assistants. The addition of this general education core produces well-rounded medical assistants with stronger verbal and written communication skills.

And because the courses in 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.



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Step 3. Maintain Your Medical Assistant Qualifications

You’ll need to maintain and renew your national certification:

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).

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics refers to the U.S. Department of Labor-Sponsored resource, Projections Central, for state job growth data. Short-term projections are for the two-year period from 2020 to 2022. Figures represent state data not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. 

All salary and employment data accessed August 2021.

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