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Registration vs Certification

The American Registry of Medical Assistants is one of many national certifying organizations, which certify/register medical assistants. Over the years we have received many requests for a clarification of these two terms or designations.

The Medical Assistant may choose to be registered (R.M.A) or certified (CMA). These designations merely depend on the organization to which she or he belongs. There is no qualitative difference between the two credentials simply because one uses the "Registered" and the other uses the "Certified" title. National medical assisting certifying organizations use their own designation acronym for certification or registration. All are a national credential that acknowledges the member as qualified to perform the clinical and clerical duties of a traditional medical assistant.

Neither federal nor state governments currently require a medical assistant to be either certified or registered in order to perform medical assisting duties. No medical assisting certifying or registering organization has control over state laws and regulations. However, many physicians and medical facilities are requiring medical assistants to be certified or registered through either a state or national agency.

An examination may be given by other organizations, or grant membership by reciprocity, in order to belong. Our members must be recommended by the director or designated representative of a licensed, accredited affiliate school from which they graduated in a program for medical assisting; recommended by their physician employer after one year on-the-job post graduation experience from a licensed, accredited non-affiliate school from which they graduated in a program for medical assisting; or recommended by their physician employer after having a minimum of three years on-the-job experience performing the clinical and clerical duties of a traditional medical assistant, since it is ultimately the licensed physician that determines the competency of his/her staff.

At this time neither the federal or state government require a medical assistant to have been formally trained to be employed, however, graduation from an accredited program benefits the graduate by providing proof of completion of a program that meets nationally accepted standards, recognition of their education by their professional peers and eligibility for registration or certification.

We do not, at this time, require our applicants to take another exam. Exams from our accredited, licensed affiliate schools, as well as exams from an accredited, licensed non-affiliate school, have been submitted for review to their accrediting bodies. If they are accepted by the DOE of each state and by a national/state accrediting body approved by the United States Council of Post Secondary Education, we feel, at this time, another test will add to the cost of membership. We feel that with the review of a completed application, the applicant, if accepted, has either received formal education and/or has had significant on the job experience as to be able to perform the clinical and clerical duties of a traditional medical assistant.


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The American Registry of Medical Assistants
61 Union Street Suite 5, Westfield, MA 01085, USA
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