How to Become a Medical Assistant in Vermont

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According to Vermont’s Department of Labor, the field of medical assisting is expected to experience significant growth for years to come.

Two factors have a significant influence on Vermont’s demand for health care services:

  • Second-highest rate of health insured residents in the nation
  • Population of residents 65-and-older is more than two percentage points above the national average

To effectively compete for medical assistant jobs in Vermont, consider completing the following steps:

Learn About the Medical Assistant Qualifications in Vermont
Become a Qualified Medical Assistant
Maintain and Improve Your Skills
Pursue a Medical Assistant Job in Vermont



Step 1. Learn About the Medical Assistant Qualifications in Vermont

In Vermont, physicians and other health care providers set their own hiring requirements for professionals in this field.

The Vermont Department of Labor reports the following recommendations for the medical assisting occupation:

  • Education – most employers require at least one of the following:

    • An associate’s degree
    • Training in a vocational school
    • Relevant on-the-job experience

  • Training – informal training with experienced providers and at least one year of on-the-job training is usually associated with becoming a medical assistant
  • Experience – prior work-related skills, experience, or knowledge is required for this field

The qualifications sought by Vermont’s medical assistant employers confirm the Department of Labor’s statements. Employers will often look for medical assistants that have accomplished the following:

  • Graduation from a medical assistant training program in Vermont
  • Associate’s of science medical assistant degree
  • Graduation from a medical assistant certification program that confers:
    • Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential
    • Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credential
    • Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA) credential

To get a sense for the skills today’s employers are looking for in a medical assistant, you can consider some of the most recent job announcements for these professionals:

  • The Gifford Medical Center in Sharon recently posted a medical assistant job description that required applicants to meet one of the following:
    • Have a medical assistant degree
    • Have experience working as an EMT
    • Have prior medical assisting training

  • Planned Parenthood in Williston was recently seeking to fill a Health Care Assistant position with a person who possessed the following:
      • Medical assistant certification
      • Bachelor’s degree
      • Health center and administrative/clerical skills

  • The Orthopedic and Rehab Center on Granger Road in Barre was recently seeking a qualified medical assistant who would be responsible for clinical and front office duties. The Center specified a preference for graduates of a medical assistant course.



Step 2. Become a Qualified Medical Assistant

The first step you can take to become a qualified professional is to enroll in a medical assistant school in Vermont. To qualify for important medical assistant certifications, consider a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

As a student in a Vermont medical assistant college setting, you can expect to take courses that include:

  • Micro computing applications
  • Medical terminology
  • Medical billing and coding for the medical assistant
  • Intercultural communication
  • Health psychology and bio ethics
  • CPR and first aid
  • Human biology
  • Introduction to phlebotomy
  • Fundamentals of pharmacology
  • Administrative medical assisting
  • Clinical medical assisting
  • Medical assisting clinical practicum

Taking this type of course load can lead to an associate’s of science degree in medical assistance. Once you have graduated from a program that is approved by either CAAHEP or ABHES you will have the required qualifications to pursue one of the following certifications:

  • CMA
  • RMA

Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)

A CMA credential is a widely accepted industry standard in the medical assistant field throughout the nation. This credential is sponsored by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), and to earn the CMA you must pass the Certified Medical Assistant Exam.

The CMA Exam is divided into three main subjects and comprised of 200 multiple-choice questions in total. The time limit for the test is 160 minutes. You can expect questions from the following subjects to be on your CMA Exam:

  • Administrative subjects
    • Medical reception, appointment scheduling, and finance management
    • Medical business practices and ethics
    • Creation of a patient’s medical record

  • Clinical subjects
    • Anatomy and physiology
    • Documentation of care and patient intake
    • Infection control
    • Physician and patient medical assisting
    • Collecting and processing specimens
    • Administering and reporting diagnostic tests
    • Emergency management and first aid
    • Pharmacology

  • General subjects
    • Psychology, medical ethics, and communication
    • Professionalism, medical law and regulatory guidelines
    • Safety, quality assurance and risk management
    • Medical terminology

You can apply online to take the test, which is offered at one Prometric testing center near Burlington in Williston at 600 Blair Park Road, Suite 326. There are many additional testing centers located throughout the region, including in Canada and neighboring states.

Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)

The RMA credential is also a nationally respected certification that is administered by American Medical Technologists (AMT). One of the ways to become eligible for this credential is by earning a CMA through the AAMA. When you have a CMA credential you can then also apply for the RMA credential.

Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA)

The NRCMA credential is offered through the National Association of Health Professionals (NAHP). Once you have graduated from your accredited medical assistant academic program you can pursue this certification by passing the NRCMA examination. To begin this process you will need to fill out an Exam Application with the NAHP.



Step 3. Maintain and Improve Your Skills

In addition to meeting any continuing education or continuing development standards that your employer requires, you will also need to meet the maintenance requirements for your medical assistant certification if you have chosen to obtain this qualification. Each certification agency has its own set of maintenance requirements:

  • To maintain a CMA before it expires after 60 months, you must retake the CMA Exam or obtain at least 60 re-certification points as follows:

  • To maintain an RMA credential through the AMT you will need to pay an annual $50 membership charge and earn 30 Certification Continuing Program (CCP) points every three years.

  • To renew the NRCMA credential you must hold a current CPR card and finish at least two Class A Continuing Education Units (CEUs) each year. Additionally you must also pay a yearly membership fee to the NAHP. The first time you renew your NRCMA you do not need to complete the CEU requirement.

You can make education an important part of your maintenance requirements and ambitions for career advancement. College courses that are related to the field of medical assisting will fulfill continuing education requirements for the CMA, RMA, and NRCMA credentials. Earning a bachelor’s degree in the field of medical sciences is a strong way of making yourself competitive in Vermont’s most important markets. A bachelor’s of science can also be the first step towards a career as a nurse or doctor.



Step 4. Pursue a Medical Assistant Job in Vermont

As you research how to become a medical assistant in Vermont it is helpful to be aware of pertinent statistics, starting with regional employment figures. Statewide there are approximately 690 medical assistants working with a variety of health care providers. Regionally this breaks down to:

  • Burlington and South Burlington area: 340
  • Southern Vermont region: 220
  • Northern Vermont region: 130

There are two industries in Vermont that employ 95 percent of all medical assistants:

  • Ambulatory health care services – 71 percent of all medical assistants or approximately 454 individuals
  • Hospitals – 24 percent of all medical assistants or approximately 149 individuals

Besides these popular locations, medical assistants are also qualified to work in Vermont’s long term care facilities and community health centers.

Networking with your colleagues is important for learning information about changes in the state’s legislation, opportunities for continuing education and development, or employment prospects. You can find information about the latest developments in the medical assisting field through national credentialing agencies like the AAMA, AMT, and NAHP.

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