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How to Become a Medical Assistant in Utah

According to Utah statutes, supervising physicians are responsible for hiring qualified and competent medical assistants as they see fit. To become a medical assistant in Utah, you will need to navigate the following steps:

Meet Medical Assistant Job Qualifications in Utah
Consider National Certification (CMA, RMA or NRCMA)
Pursue a Job in Utah’s Medical Assisting Field
Maintain and Enhance Your Medical Assistant Skills

According to Utah’s laws of medicine, a medical assistant is an unlicensed individual who works under the indirect supervision of a licensed physician, who in turn accepts full responsibility for the medical assistant’s actions.

Medical assistants:

  • Must abide by the normal standards and ethics associated with the tasks they are delegated
  • May only be delegated tasks that are appropriate
  • Abstain from doing any of the following activities:
    • Diagnosing
    • Advising
    • Independently treating
    • Prescribing medication
    • Administering non-localized anesthesia

By definition medical assistants are unlicensed, meaning that there are no legal certification, licensure, or education requirements to practice as a medical assistant in Utah. However when it comes to qualifications, the private sector is quick to pick up where the state’s legislature has left off.

 


 

Step 1. Meet Medical Assistant Job Qualifications in Utah

All medical assistant jobs in Utah require at least a high school diploma or equivalent and you must be legally employable, meaning:

  • At least 18 years of age
  • Have no significant criminal history
  • Have the right to work in the United States

Aside from these minimum requirements, employers of medical assistants will often require or prefer at least one of the following qualifications:

  • Graduation from a medical assistant training program in Utah
  • An associate’s of science degree from any number of medical assistant schools in Utah
  • A credential such as the following from a medical assistant certification program:
    • Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
    • Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)
    • Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA)

Each employer can set its own hiring requirements and preferences for medical assistants in Utah.

A starting point for the development of your medical assistant skills is education. Graduating from a medical assistant program that is accredited by one of the following agencies will give you the qualifications you need to pursue different types of certifications in the future:

  • Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
  • Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)

Utah is home to at least eight programs that are accredited by these agencies. As you complete a medical assistant degree in Utah you can expect to take courses such as:

  • Office computer literacy for a medical assistant
  • English, writing, and medical terminology for medical assistants
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Medical office administrative procedures
  • Medical assistant pharmacology
  • Medical assistant clinical procedures
  • Medical insurance billing and coding
  • Workplace relationships and psychology for health care professionals
  • Medical internship, practicum, or externship

 


 

Step 2. Consider National Certification (CMA, RMA or NRCMA)

Once you have completed a medical assistant academic program accredited by either CAAHEP or ABHES you will be qualified to pursue the CMA, RMA, and NRCMA credentials.

Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)

Sponsored by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), to earn the CMA you will need to pass the Certified Medical Assistant Exam. This will evaluate you on the knowledge you have acquired in your medical assistant academic program, specifically covering three subject areas:

  • General subjects
    • Psychology, communication, and professionalism
    • Medical law, ethics, and regulatory guidelines
    • Risk management, quality assurance, and safety
    • Medical terminology

  • Administrative subjects
    • Medical reception and office finances
    • Patient advocacy
    • Medical business practices and appointment scheduling
    • Creation of medical records

  • Clinical subjects
    • Anatomy and physiology
    • Pharmacology
    • Patient intake
    • Infection control
    • Processing and collecting specimens
    • Diagnostic testing
    • Emergency management and first aid

The test is comprised of 200 multiple-choice questions that you will have 160 minutes to complete. You can register online to take the exam at any Prometric testing center, including at the following locations in Utah:

  • In Orem at 350 South 400 West, Suite 250
  • In Salt Lake City at 201 South 1460 East, 490 Student Services Building
  • Near Salt Lake City in Taylorsville at 5500 South Redwood Road, Suite 201

Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)

Sponsored by the American Medical Technologists (AMT), one of the routes to become eligible for the RMA is by earning a CMA. Once you have earned a CMA you can also apply with the AMT to become a Registered Medical Assistant.

Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA)

Sponsored by the National Association of Health Professionals (NAHP) you will need to pass an examination to receive the NRCMA credential. You can start this process by completing an application form for the exam and following the instructions you receive from NAHP.

 


 

Step 3. Pursue a Job in Utah’s Medical Assisting Field

Currently there are approximately 6,920 medical assistants providing their services across the State of Utah. These professionals can potentially work wherever medical services are provided, and are distributed throughout the state as follows:

  • 3,260 in Salt Lake City
  • 1,410 in the Ogden-Clearfield area
  • 1,190 in the Provo-Orem area
  • 340 in Saint George
  • 320 in the Logan area
  • 150 in Utah’s eastern non-metropolitan area
  • 110 in Utah’s southwestern non-metropolitan area
  • 100 in Utah’s northern non-metropolitan area
  • 60 in Utah’s west-central non-metropolitan area

Some of the most recent job vacancies for medical assistants in Utah specified the following skills:

  • The Rocky Mountain Women’s Health Center in West Valley City recently posted a medical assistant job description requiring graduates from medical assistant programs, with preference given for candidates with:
    • An official medical assistant certification
    • At least one year of experience in a health care or customer service setting
    • Bilingual abilities in both English and Spanish

  • An urgent care center in Eagle Mountain was recently seeking a medical assistant with the following minimum qualifications:
    • Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential
    • Proficiency in computers and electronic medical record systems
    • Strong organizational skills

  • Specialty Surgery of Utah in West Valley City was recently looking to hire a medical assistant who, at minimum, had completed an accredited medical assisting program. Preferred qualifications included:
    • Medical assisting internship
    • Experience in a health care setting
    • Phlebotomy experience
    • Medical assistant certification from a national organization

  • The radiation oncology unit at University of Utah Health in Salt Lake City was recently looking for a medical assistant who was a graduate of either a medical assisting or advanced EMT program. Preferred qualifications included:
    • Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential
    • Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credential

  • The company Provant, operator of a Gunnison-based wellness center, was recently hiring for a medical assistant whose minimum qualifications included a professional certification.

You can find additional resources about legislation, certification, continuing education, and employment through professional organizations such as the Utah State Society of Medical Assistants (USSMA).

 


 

Step 4. Maintain and Enhance Your Medical Assistant Skills

As with initial employment requirements, employers can also determine the individual maintenance requirements you will need to meet. If you need to maintain a specific credential, you can do so according to the following:

  • A CMA credential is valid for 60 months, and you can renew this either by retaking the CMA Exam or by earning 60 re-certification points, half of which should be from AAMA-approved continuing education

  • Maintaining an RMA credential necessitates paying a $50 AMT annual membership fee plus completing 30 Certification Continuing Program (CCP) points every three years

  • To renew an NRCMA credential you need to complete two A Class Continuing Education Units (CEUs) annually as well as maintain a valid CPR card, however for your initial renewal you do not need to complete any CEUs

In addition to improving and maintaining your qualifications, you can also think about earning a higher level of education. Aside from improving your overall employability and career options, college education in the field of medical assisting can also fulfill maintenance requirements for CMA, RMA, and NRCMA credentials.

Studying for a bachelor’s degree in the medical sciences field with an emphasis on medical assisting will prepare you to be a highly competitive candidate in your field and lay a strong foundation to further develop your education.

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