While the medical assistant profession in Texas is not regulated by legislation, there is a stark difference between those with competitive qualifications and those without them. To become a highly qualified medical assistant job candidate in Texas, complete these steps:
|Make Yourself into a Competitive Medical Assistant Job Candidate|
|Pursue Employment as a Medical Assistant in Texas|
|Maintain Your Medical Assistant Qualifications|
The Texas legal regulations that cover medical assistants entrust their employing physicians with determining the minimum qualifications and requirements for hire. Medical assistants in Texas are not legally required to have licenses, certifications, or other such credentials.
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
As a medical assistant in Texas, you can expect to work within this framework of these guidelines. While specific qualifications are not addressed in this law, individual employers address them by establishing their own minimum and preferred qualifications for hire.
Step 1. Make Yourself into a Competitive Medical Assistant Job Candidate
Some of the most commonly preferred medical assistant qualifications are:
- Experience working in the medical assistant field, in medical offices, or in a general office environment
- Graduation from a medical assistant training program in Texas
- Graduation from a medical assistant school with an associate’s of science degree
- Medical assistant certification that result in credentials like:
- Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
- Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)
- Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA)
Earning a Degree
There are numerous medical assistant academic programs housed in schools located throughout Texas. Choosing a medical assistant school that is accredited by one of the following agencies will ensure you will be qualified to take further steps towards elective national certification:
- Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
- Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
In an associate’s or bachelor’s degree program, you can expect to take courses such as:
- Health care communication and medical terminology
- Medical assisting clinical and laboratory procedures
- Medical reception and office management
- Electronic medical assistant procedures and medical office software
- Patient electronic health record
- Medical insurance billing and coding
- Anatomy and physiology
- Medical office emergency procedures
- Medical assisting internship or practicum
Once you have completed a medical assistant program that is accredited by either CAAHEP or ABHES, you will be eligible to pursue the CMA, RMA, and NRCMA medical assistant credentials.
Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
Perhaps the most common medical assistant credential across the United States, you can earn a CMA by passing the Certified Medical Assistant Exam. Both the exam and CMA credential itself are sponsored by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).
The exam is made up of 200 multiple-choice questions that you will have 160 minutes to complete. Questions are taken from three main topic areas:
- General subjects
- Clinical subjects
- Administrative subjects
- 2 testing centers in the San Antonio area
- 3 testing centers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area
- 1 testing center in Austin
- 1 testing center in Lubbock
Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)
The RMA credential is sponsored by American Medical Technologists (AMT). The AMT recognizes one of the pathways of eligibility for the RMA as being a CMA credential, and therefore once you have earned this you can also apply for an RMA credential.
Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA)
The NRCMA is sponsored by the National Association of Health Professionals (NAHP). Eligibility for the CMA credential also confers eligibility for the NRCMA credential, however to obtain this you will also need to pass an examination. After completing the required education, complete an NAHP exam application form.
Step 2. Pursue Employment as a Medical Assistant in Texas
Recent statistics show that 52,380 medical assistants currently work throughout Texas. Medical assistants are concentrated in the state’s urban areas as shown here:
- 13,920 in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington greater metropolitan area
- 13,410 in the greater Houston metropolitan area
- 10,250 in the greater Dallas metropolitan area
- 5,600 in the San Antonio area
- 3,680 in the Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan area
- 3,230 in the greater Austin metropolitan area
- 1,970 in El Paso
- 1,970 in the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission area
- 960 in Corpus Christi
- 870 in the Brownsville area
- 770 in the Fort Hood area
- 760 in Lubbock
- 660 in the Beaumont-Port Arthur area
- 590 in Amarillo
- 530 in Laredo
- 530 in Tyler
Examples of qualifications for medical assistant jobs in Texas were recently published in the following sampling of vacancy announcements from throughout the state:
- A recent medical assistant job description from a pediatric health center in Fort Worth was searching for a medical assistant who had completed a medical assistant or nurse assistant training program
- Mainland Primary Care in Texas City was recently seeking a medical assistant with the following preferred qualifications:
- Graduate of a medical assisting program
- One year of work experience in a clinical setting or physician’s office
- Holder of a CMA credential
- North Austin Maternal Fetal Medicine was recently advertising for a medical assistant with the following preferred qualifications:
- CMA credential
- Graduate of a medical assistant program
- CPR certification
- At least one year of related work experience
- The Community Action Corporation of South Texas recently sought a medical assistant who had, at minimum, a current and valid medical assistant certification as well as prior experience working in a medical office
- The North Central Baptist Hospital in San Antonio recently posted a recruitment ad searching for a graduate of a medical assistant training program
As you continue researching the field of medical assisting in Texas you may find it helpful to consult information provided by professional organizations such as the Texas Society of Medical Assistants (TSMA). Through the TSMA you can find information about legislative changes that affect medical assistants, job opportunities, and upcoming training or education events.
Step 3. Maintain Your Medical Assistant Qualifications
Individual employers in Texas can each decide their own maintenance and continuing education requirements for medical assistants. If you need to keep a CMA, RMA, or NRCMA credential valid you will need to take the following steps:
- A CMA credential is valid for 60 months, and to renew this you can either retake the CMA Exam or earn 60 re-certification points. At least half of these should be from AAMA-approved continuing education courses.
- To maintain an RMA credential you need to complete 30 Certification Continuing Program (CCP) points every three years. You will also need to maintain an annual membership with the AMT at a cost of $50 per year.
- To renew the NRCMA credential you must hold a valid and current CPR card and finish at least two Class A Continuing Education Units (CEUs) each year. You also need to maintain a n annual membership with the NAHP. During your first year of holding the NRCMA credential you are exempt from completing these requirements.
Another method of maintaining your medical assistant qualifications is to continue your education. Taking college courses that relate to medical assisting is also a way of fulfilling maintenance requirements for the CMA, RMA, and NRCMA credentials. Earning a degree in medical assisting is a great first step towards advancement to more senior medical professional positions. A bachelor’s degree in the medical sciences field with a concentration in medical assisting can offer a strong competitive advantage.