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Care + Career

Resources, news and fun for NHA certification candidates and alumni.

What does a medical assistant do? It may be more than you think

If you're thinking about making a career change, entering the medical assisting profession, or trying to figure out what to do next as an MA, you may have questions.

What are the essential duties of this quickly evolving healthcare role? What is the job outlook for medical assistants? What is the value of getting certified? What other jobs can a medical assistant be qualified for with the right mix of skills, experience, and training?

Let's take a look at the top questions about being a medical assistant.

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What does a medical assistant do?

A medical assistant is a multi-skilled allied healthcare professional that can

  • Specialize in procedures commonly performed in the
  • ambulatory healthcare setting.
  • Perform both clinical and administrative duties
  • Assist a variety of providers

They typically work in medical offices, clinics, urgent care centers, and may work in general medicine or specialty practices.

 

Why do medical assistants get certified?

Certification can provide external validation of competencies to employers and patients along with:

  • Evidence of a personal commitment to the profession
  • Competitive edge during the job search
  • Improved potential for career advancement

NHA certification exams are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and updated regularly, ensuring that learners have the most job-relevant knowledge and skills in areas including

  • Foundational Knowledge and Basic Science
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Clinical Patient Care
  • Patient Care Coordination and Education
  • Administrative Assisting
  • Communication and Customer Service
  • Medical Law and Ethics

DOWNLOAD THE DETAILED NHA MEDICAL ASSISTANT TEST PLAN

 

What jobs do experienced CCMAs have?

While medical assistants have traditionally worked in support positions the MA’s role is expanding. There are increasing opportunities for career laddering for those with experience as medical assistants.

In addition to job titles like medical assistant or certified medical assistant or certified clinical medical assistant, here are other jobs that a credentialed medical assistant (CCMA) could qualify for:

  • Certified Medical Administrative
  • Medical Receptionist
  • Medical Biller/Coder
  • Medical Secretary
  • Patient Care Coordinator
  • Patient Navigator
  • Health Coach
  • Population Health Manager

 

Is there a demand for medical assistants?

Not only is there a demand for medical assistants, but the majority of employers agree that certification is important for medical assistants.*

Employment of medical assistants is expected to grow 23% from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations, which are expected to grow around 7% (source: Bureau of Labor and Statistics).

 

What are the most important skills for an employable medical assistant?

Clinical skills and knowledge are critical, but stand out medical assistants have soft-skills too.

Essential skills of a medical assistant include:

  • Attention to detail
  • Highly organized
  • Effective communicator (written and oral)
  • Excellent customer service
  • Ability to multitask
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Understand and follow safety procedures
  • Good listener

GO TO THE NHA JOB BOARD TO BROWSE OPPORTUNITIES

 

Why choose NHA for certification?

Getting certified with NHA has many benefits including

  • Access to a content library of continuing education included in your certification fees
  • Access to an exclusive online community for NHA certification holders
  • A support team available by phone and online 6 days a week
  • A simple renewal process once every two years without hidden fees
  • A dedicated advocacy team representing NHA certification holders to employers and regulatory boards

We asked our certification holders why they chose to earn their medical assisting credential through NHA. Here's what they shared:

“I wanted a career where I could do work that was meaningful but also be able to support myself financially. Being NHA certified has helped me prove to employers that I had not only a certain level of knowledge in my field but the dedication it took to do that extra step.”
–Maggie Moss, CCMA, CEHRS
“I think this is a great way to stay current on all the things that are going on in the MA field. I have my current job because of my certification. My employer hires certified personnel over non-certified personnel. This is assisting me in moving up to better positions, both financially and in responsibility.”
–William Boddie, CCMA
“I choose to be NHA certified because I have pride in my career. Being certified proves I am dedicated to furthering education in an always changing field.”
–Ashley DeVogel, CCMA
“I chose to be NHA certified because of the wide range of opportunities! Building that foundation for the next level is exciting. I cannot wait to see what else is in store in my career.”
–Natasha Malufau, CCMA
“Certification shows a dedication to your chosen field. It shows you want to make sure your patients and families have the best in care they can have.”
–Reagan Wilder, CCMA

How do you get NHA certified as a medical assistant?

There are a few steps to start the process. The first is checking that you are eligible to take the NHA exam. Visit our medical assistant page to check your eligibility and take the next steps toward certification.

Click to learn more about earning your medical assistant certification

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*Based on a 2015 survey by Professional Examination Service of 175 small to mid-employers.

Topics: allied health careers, getting certified, industry news, staying certified, nhacertified, CCMA