Registered Medical Assistant – What is RMA and How to Become One
If you have an inclination towards medical care and are willing to go the extra mile in helping people, then you will find a lucrative and successful career as a Registered Medical Assistant. Basically, this job entails clinical and administrative duties which involve giving aid to doctors as they treat patients.
Because the job is categorized within the health care sector, the demand for it is expected to rise higher than any other jobs in their class. In a recent survey, about 483,000 registered medical assistants were working, and in that figure, 60% were employed in the offices of physicians. The remaining 40% were employed by private medical health care centers.
What does a Registered Medical Assistant do?
A Registered Medical Assistant would have to juggle between administrative and clinical responsibilities, plus a host of other functions that may be required in the course of her/his duty. Outlined below are the brief responsibilities that define the job description of this fast growing craft.
- Managing the front desk and reception
- Answering telephone calls
- Arranging appointments for physicians
- Taking note of follow up check ups
- Greeting patients who come for treatment
- Filing patient details
- Keeping medical records
- Keeping track of the clinic’s accounts and expenses or basic bookkeeping
- Handling medical billing and claims
- Performing health insurance requirements
- Helping in the general assessment of the patient’s medical condition
- Taking patient’s vital signs
- Relaying such assessment to the doctor or the medical practitioner
- Looking after and maintaining operative and medical equipment
- Preparing medical equipment for use
- Explaining the required procedures to the patients
- Assisting the doctors in taking X-rays, taking patients’ blood pressure, taking electrocardiogram, removing sutures and other basic medical procedures.
All clinical duties required of a registered medical assistant are strictly performed under the close supervision and guidance of the doctor or any other health care professional.
How does one become a Registered Medical Assistant?
The American Medical Technologists Board is the agency primarily given the task to regulate and award this credential. Because this kind of career is in boom nowadays, there are standard medical assistant training and education requirements that must be completed by the candidate before getting into this career.
Aspiring medical assistants have two options. Either they learn the fundamentals of the trade by undergoing on-the-job training or pursuing basic education from an accredited school.
Below is the eligibility requirements for anyone who is interested in obtaining the registered medical assistant designation:
1. A recent graduate from a certificate program of one year or pursue an associate’s degree of two years from a reputed school offering medical assistant training program that are accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). There are institutions that also offer a clinical training component where the trainees are subjected to on-the-job training to fully enhance and develop their skills and competencies.
2. Has a minimum of 5 years experience working as a medical assistant.
A competitive exam is administered to qualified applicants who meet the above qualifications.
The only exception is that if you have passed a generalist medical assistant certification exam from another medical assisting certification body (approved by the AMT) and have been working in the medical assisting field for the past 3 out of 5 years and have met all other AMT training and experience requirements, then no further examination is required.
Depending on the employer, the medical assistant may be required to present a certification for service anytime before employment. Medical assistants who have been working for as long as five years without the required training or educational qualification will still be accommodated to obtain the certification which is renewable every five years.
What are career advancement opportunities for medical assistants?
As long as society demands for doctors, medical assistants will continue to be in high demand. More so that we are already in the wellness age and research efforts in medical Science are now going in full blast.
More and more doctors now realize that they can replace their Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) with trained medical assistants who are just as competent provided they are given sufficient training and education to hone their skills. The role of medical assistants in a clinical unit is unique because they take care of the business aspect of the trade which doctors, nurses and medical professionals do not like dealing with.
Medical assistants who eventually earn a considerable length of experience can further pursue medical office management positions. Others may even qualify and apply as instructors in vocational schools or colleges.
The varied roles and responsibilities performed by the RMA’s go beyond the clinical and administrative functions they do. A registered medical assistant serves as a direct link or communicator between and among doctors and health care professionals and here is where the challenge of the profession comes in.