How to Become a Medical Assistant in Rhode Island

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Rhode Island law does not specifically regulate medical assistants, so each of the state’s health care providers can establish its own minimum employment qualifications. These minimum qualifications can include:

  • Graduation from one of Rhode Island’s medical assistant schools, resulting in a medical assistant degree at the associate’s, bachelor’s, or higher degree level
  • Completion of a medical assistant training program in Rhode Island that results in a diploma
  • Completion of a medical assistant certification program in Rhode Island, such as one resulting in the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential.

Consider the following steps as you research how to become a medical assistant in Rhode Island:

Become a Well-Qualified Medical Assistant
Maintain and Develop Your Medical Assistant Qualifications
Consider the Job Market in Rhode Island



Step 1. Become a Well-Qualified Medical Assistant

Medical assistants in Rhode Island are generally permitted to practice without being licensed. However according to state legislation, you may only be delegated tasks that fall within the purview of your training.

If duties include laboratory work, then you will also be required to become licensed as a laboratory professional, usually a laboratory technician. A laboratory technician license is required if you perform laboratory tests that do not necessitate much independent judgment, so long as the tasks are performed under the supervision of a higher ranking laboratory professional.

The Rhode Island Department of Health is responsible for licensing laboratory professionals. It issues several different types of laboratory licenses, most of which you can qualify for with a bachelor’s of science degree or an associate’s of science degree.

Although each employer can specify its own requirements for medical assistant jobs in Rhode Island, there are two important attributes that will allow you to be a competitive medical assistant throughout the state:

  • Clinical technician license
  • CMA credential

Clinical Technician License

To become a licensed Clinical Laboratory Technician you will need to meet one of the following conditions:

  • Have at least an associate’s degree or 60 semester credits from a clinical laboratory or equivalent academic program
  • Have at least a high school diploma and have completed at least one year in an approved technician training program
  • Have achieved the title of Medical Laboratory Specialist in the military and completed an official military medical lab course at least 50 weeks in length

To become a licensed Clinical Histologic Technician you will need to pass a test that has been approved by Rhode Island’s Clinical Laboratory Science Board and have completed one of the following:

  • At least 60 semester credits or an associate’s degree that includes:

    • Mathematics
    • 12 semester credits of biology and chemistry
    • Histologic technique program or one year of histologic training conducted under the supervision of an experienced histopathologist

  • At least a high school diploma or its equivalent and two years of full-time experience working under the supervision of an experienced histological professional in a licensed clinical lab

To become licensed in either of these clinical technician positions you will need to fill out an application for licensure and file this with the Rhode Island Board of Clinical Laboratory Science.

CMA Credential

The Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential is sponsored by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To become a CMA you will need to pass the Certified Medical Assistant Exam. This assessment will evaluate your knowledge in three key areas:

  • General subjects
  • Administrative subjects
  • Clinical subjects

While taking the exam you will be allotted 160 minutes to complete its 200 multiple-choice questions. To be eligible to take this exam you will need to graduate from a medical assisting academic program that is accredited by either of the following organizations:

You can apply online to take the CMA Exam at two Prometric testing centers located in Rhode Island:

  • Near Providence in Warwick at 2346 Post Road, Suite 104
  • Near Providence in Cumberland at 1300 Highland Corporate Drive, Suite 102A



Step 2. Maintain and Develop Your Medical Assistant Qualifications

As with the qualification requirements for hire, employers can also determine their own continuing education and professional development requirements.

If you are required to maintain a CMA credential with the AAMA, you will need to follow a specific course of action. The CMA credential is valid for 60 months, after which point it will need to be renewed. To do this you will need to either retake the CMA Exam or earn 60 re-certification points according to the following specifications:

If you need to maintain a clinical technician license issued by the Rhode Island Department of Health, you will also need to follow a specific set of guidelines. This type of license is valid for two years and expires on the 1st of January in even-numbered years. To renew your license, you will need to submit a renewal fee and fulfill one of the following continuing education requirements:

  • Complete 30 hours of continuing education in the form of college courses, lectures, seminars, and training programs that is related to clinical laboratory practice
  • Meet the re-certification requirements for a national credential, which must include at least 15 hours of continuing education
  • Complete a continuing competency program offered by a national certification organization

Taking appropriate college courses is one of the ways of fulfilling renewal requirements for both a CMA credential and a Department of Health clinical technician license. Having a relevant college degree can also be one of the minimum requirements for hire chosen by prospective employers. These are just some of the reasons why medical assistants choose to earn a college degree in a medical sciences field.

Having a college degree can also make you a more effective and knowledgeable medical assistant, as well as lead to more advanced employment opportunities. Many medical assistants with college degrees eventually go on to pursue careers like:

  • Physician assistant
  • Physical therapist
  • Registered nurse
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Medical doctor



Step 3. Pursue a Medical Assistant Job in Rhode Island

As the state’s population continues to gain greater access to health care services and to grow older, the demand for medical assistants in Rhode Island is expected to continue to increase. According to the most recent count, there are 2,360 medical assistants working throughout the State of Rhode Island. The highest concentrations are distributed among the state’s cities, including:

  • 2,690 in the Providence-Fall River-Warwick greater metropolitan area
  • 490 in the Norwich-New London area

Because the laws governing medical assistants can and do change, you are always recommended to stay up-to-date with the most recent legislative changes in Rhode Island. These can affect employment requirements, continuing professional development requirements, and licensing regulations. Some of the state’s largest employers of those working in the medical support industry include:

  • Miriam Hospital in Providence
  • Newport Hospital
  • Rhode Island Hospital in Providence
  • Roger Williams Medical Center in Providence
  • Westerly Hospital
  • Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island in Providence
  • Saint Joseph Health Services of Rhode Island in Providence
  • Kent County Memorial Hospital in Warwick
  • Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island in Pawtucket
  • South County Hospital Health Care System in Wakefield
  • Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket

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