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How to Become a Medical Assistant in West Virginia

Although West Virginia does not license medical assistants, to find employment in this field you will need to meet the minimum requirements as determined by health care providers. This varies from employer to employer; however, there are three common qualifications most employers look for:

  • Graduation from a medical assistant degree program
  • Completion of a medical assistant training program
  • Completion of a medical assistant certification program

Consider the following steps to become a competitive applicant for medical assistant jobs in West Virginia:

Learn About Common Types of Medical Assistant Qualifications
Earn Competitive Medical Assistant Credentials
Pursue Medical Assistant Jobs Available in West Virginia
Maintain and Improve Your Medical Assistant Qualifications

 


 

Step 1. Learn About Common Types of Medical Assistant Qualifications

Education is the foundation of the most common medical assistant job qualifications. There are a number of medical assistant schools in West Virginia, many of which are fully accredited. Completing a medical assistant certificate, diploma or associate degree program that has been accredited by one of the following agencies will assure eligibility for several nationally recognized certifications:

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

In West Virginia there are at least six medical assistant academic programs accredited by one or both of these agencies, with locations in:

  • Parkersburg
  • Princeton
  • Dunbar
  • Huntington
  • Wheeling

You can expect to take courses such as the following as you complete a medical assistant academic program:

  • Essentials of human systems for allied health professions
  • Folk health care practices
  • Health care law and ethics
  • Medical terminology
  • CPR, first aid, and emergency procedures
  • Essentials of pharmacology
  • Heatlh care professional communication
  • Business mathematics and accounting
  • Medical assistant office programs and applications
  • Medical office billing and coding
  • Medical assistant internship or practicum

 


 

Step 2. Earn Competitive Medical Assistant Credentials

Medical assistant certification programs offer a wide range of credentials. Employers often state a preference – if not a requirement – for applicants that possess a medical assistant certification credential such as these:

  • Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
  • Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)
  • Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA)
  • Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)
  • Medical Assistant (NCMA)

Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)

The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) administers the CMA. You will be eligible for this credential once you have graduated from a medical assistant academic program that is accredited by CAAHEP or ABHES. To earn the CMA you will need to pass the Certified Medical Assistant Exam, a test that focuses on three main areas:

  • General medical assistant subjects
  • Clinical medical assistant subjects
  • Administrative medical assistant subjects

The CMA Exam is comprised in total of 200 multiple-choice questions with a 160-minute time limit. You can register online to take the exam.

Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)

American Medical Technologists (AMT) is the sponsor of the RMA credential. There are several routes to eligibility for the RMA, one of which involves taking the CMA Exam. AMT also offers a separate exam you can take if you are not also pursuing a CMA credential.

Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA)

The National Association of Health Professionals (NAHP) administers the NRCMA credential. You can become eligible for the NRCMA by graduating from a medical assistant school that is accredited by either CAAHEP or ABHES. You will also need to pass an exam through the NAHP, which you can register for by completing an application form.

Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)

The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) is the sponsor of the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) credential. To earn this you will need to take the NHA’s CCMA exam at a cost of $149.

Medical Assistant (NCMA)

Sponsored by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), there are several routes to eligibility for the NCMA credential, one of which is earning a related credential such as the CMA. To become eligible for this you must pass the NCMA Exam.

 


 

Step 3. Pursue Medical Assistant Jobs Available in West Virginia

Once you have made yourself a qualified medical assistant you will be ready to start seeking employment in your new career field. Medical assistants have the possibility of being employed throughout West Virginia anywhere that medical or health services are offered. There are approximately 3,210 medical assistants working across the state, concentrated in these locations:

  • 6,140 in the DC greater metropolitan area
  • 780 in Charleston
  • 760 in the Huntington-Ashland area
  • 610 in West Virginia’s north-central non-metropolitan area
  • 420 in Morgantown
  • 390 in West Virginia’s southern non-metropolitan region
  • 370 in the Martinsburg area
  • 350 in Wheeling
  • 270 in the Parkersburg-Vienna area
  • 90 in the Weirton area

As you prepare to start your job search, consider the following sampling of medical assistant vacancy postings from throughout the state:

  • Preston Memorial Hospital in Kingwood recently posted a medical assistant job description that stated the following requirements:

    • Graduation from an accredited medical assistant school
    • A medical assistant certification
    • Prior work experience in a physician’s office

  • Plateau Surgical Associates in Oak Hill recently posted a job announcement seeking a medical assistant who had at least a high school diploma and who possessed a medical assistant certificate
  • MedExpress in Charleston was recently seeking a medical assistant who would be primarily working as a front office assistant. Minimum qualifications included the ability to follow OSHA and HIPAA guidelines and a basic knowledge of electronic medical records and associated computer software
  • MedExpress in Cross Lanes recently posted an advertisement seeking a medical assistant with the ability to triage patients, take vital signs, draw blood, administer medications, and maintain clinical supplies. Applicants were specifically required to have a current certification from one of the following associations:

    • American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)
    • National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)
    • American Medical Technologists (AMT)
    • Any other recognized certifying body

  • CRC Health in Dawmont was recently searching for a medical assistant who could fulfill the following preferences for hire:

    • CMA credential
    • Phlebotomy skills

 


 

Step 4. Maintain and Improve Your Medical Assistant Qualifications

Each individual employer can specify the continuing education and development requirements you must complete. Maintaining the professional certifications already discussed requires the following:

  • To maintain a CMA credential you will need to earn at least 60 re-certification points, including 30 AAMA-approved continuing education units, before your CMA expires. Once you are issued a CMA it will be valid for a period of 60 months.
  • To maintain an RMA credential you will need maintain an annual membership with AMT and earn 30 Certification Continuing Program (CCP) points every three years.
  • To maintain an NRCMA credential you will need to have a current CPR card and maintain an annual membership with the NAHP. You must also earn at least two A-class Continuing Education Units (CEUs) annually, except for your first renewal.
  • To maintain a CCMA credential you must earn at least 10 Continuing Education (CE) credits every two years.
  • To maintain an NCMA credential you will need to complete a series of annual Continuing Education (CE) that is approved by the NCCT.

Many medical assistants choose to fulfill continuing education requirements by earning a more advanced degree, such as a bachelor’s degree in a medical sciences field. Not only can this help to keep a medical assistant certification current, a more advanced degree can be the beginning of a career path that eventually leads to professions such as:

  • Nurse practitioner
  • Physician assistant
  • Registerd nurse

Besides career advancement, a degree in the medical sciences field will also add to your competitive credentials, making you qualified for some of West Virginia’s best medical assistant markets.

As you research how to become a medical assistant in West Virginia it is always a good idea to keep track of any pending or developing legislation that may affect training or qualification requirements. You can keep track of this by monitoring professional organizations such as those that offer medical assistant certifications, as well as by monitoring developments in the State Legislature.

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