How to Become a Medical Assistant in Texas

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Medical assistants come with an impressive set of skills that allow them to seamlessly transition from administrative to clinical tasks and back again. From answering phones to helping physicians during exams to handling office billing, medical assistants are the healthcare support pros medical practices rely on to keep things moving in an organized, efficient manner.

Not only are the number of medical assistant jobs in Texas as abundant as you’d imagine, growth in the field is expected to surge in the coming years as the state’s major health systems continue with their unprecedented expansion. Chief among them are the Texas Medical Center, ranked as the largest medical city in the world and home to the world’s largest children’s hospital and cancer center, and Baylor Scott & White Health, one of the largest not-for-profit healthcare systems in the nation and home to nearly 50,000 employees.

According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of medical assistants will grow by 4.3% in just the few, short years between 2019 and 2021.

Maybe even more impressive are the average number of annual job openings for medical assistants — 8,150 on average expected every single year due to a combination of retirements, normal workforce turnover, and new job growth.

These stats ensure you’ll have your share of exciting job opportunities waiting for you once you’ve joined the ranks of the state’s most highly qualified medical assistants. But first you’ll need the training and credentials the state’s top healthcare employers demand:

Get the Education and Certification You Need to Become a Qualified Job Candidate
Find a Job in Medical Assisting You’ll Love
Maintain Your Medical Assistant Qualifications

Texas law states that physicians may employ medical assistants according to the following rules:

  • Physicians may delegate tasks to medical assistants who are qualified and properly trained, as determined by the physician
  • The physician must supervise the medical assistant and maintain responsibility for all tasks performed
  • Tasks that are delegated to medical assistants must be reasonable and prudent in the judgment of the delegating physician
  • The medical assistant’s tasks must be able to be properly and safely performed, while also being carried out in a typical manner
  • Medical assistants must not represent themselves to the public or patients as being authorized to practice medicine
  • Medical assistants are authorized to administer drugs under these conditions

 


 

Step 1. Get the Education and Certification You Need to Become a Qualified Job Candidate

There’s no replacement for a well-rounded, comprehensive medical assisting program to prepare you for this exciting field.

And there’s no better program than one that’s accredited by either the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Choosing an accredited program ensures your eligibility for national certification and guarantees you’ll learn everything you need to serve as a competent, entry-level medical assistant.

Both the CAAHEP and the ABHES accredit certificate, diploma, and associate degree programs, and all three types of programs include a similar course of education and practical training. Some of the course topics within these programs include:

  • Medical assisting clinical and laboratory procedures
  • Medical reception and office management
  • Electronic medical assistant procedures and medical office software
  • Patient electronic health records
  • Medical insurance billing and coding
  • Medical assisting internship or practicum

However, certificate and diploma programs provide a quicker route to practice, as they take just 10-12 months, on average, to complete. Associate degree programs take about 2 years to complete because they also include a general education core – a group of courses covering the physical sciences, the social sciences, mathematics, communications, and more.

But the added time it takes to complete an associate’s degree is time well spent, as many employers now require medical assistants with this level of education. As a result, you may enjoy better/more varied professional opportunities and more earning power by completing an associate’s degree.

And if you’ve got your sights set on advancing your education to the bachelor’s level at some point, the Associate of Science (AS) degree will make that effort much easier, as most or all of the courses within an AS degree transfer to bachelor’s degrees in healthcare-related fields, such as healthcare administration, allied health science, and public health.

Once you’ve completed an accredited program, you’ll qualify to take a national certification examination.

Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)

While there are a handful of options available, the most widely sought-after credential remains the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) through the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).

To earn the CMA you must take and pass the Certified Medical Assistant Exam, which tests your knowledge in three, main areas:

  • General subjects
  • Clinical subjects
  • Administrative subjects

You’ll apply online to take the CMA Exam and then after receiving approval from the AAMA, you’ll take the exam at a Prometric testing center near you.

Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)

To earn the RMA through the American Medical Technologists (AMT), you must take and pass the RMA exam.

Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA)

To earn the NRCMA through the National Association of Health Professionals (NAHP), you’ll need to take and pass the NRCMA exam.

 


 

Step 2. Find a Job in Medical Assisting You’ll Love

You can begin your job search by checking out the many opportunities available through Texas’ largest healthcare systems, such as:

  • Baptist Health System, San Antonio
  • Baylor Scott & White Health, Dallas
  • Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas
  • CHRISTUS Health, Irving
  • East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System, Tyler
  • HCA Gulf Coast Division, Houston
  • Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, Houston
  • Texas Health Resources, Arlington
  • Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, Dallas

Membership in a professional association like the Texas Society of Medical Assistants (TSMA) is a great way to learn about the latest job opportunities, network and connect with your colleagues through events and programs, and stay current on legislative changes to the profession and the healthcare industry as a whole.

 


 

Step 3. Maintain Your Medical Assistant Qualifications

You’ll need to maintain your national certification:

Keep in mind that advancing your education remains a great way to fulfill the maintenance requirements for the CMA, RMA, and NRCMA credentials. Now may be the time to consider pursuing a bachelor’s degree in a healthcare-related field to both satisfy the continuing education requirements for national certification and advance your career.

 

2019 job growth projections from the Texas Workforce Commission 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.

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