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CCMA vs. CMAA: What's the difference and why get both?

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Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) are credentials that show employers that you’re qualified to fill the role of a medical assistant or medical administrative assistant. However, there are distinct differences between these two NHA certifications — and strong reasons to achieve both.

The difference between CCMA and CMAA

CCMA and CMAA certifications prepare you for a rewarding career in health care. The key difference is that the CCMA emphasizes clinical knowledge/skills with a secondary focus on administrative knowledge and skills, while the CMAA goes into greater breadth and depth on administrative skills only.

Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)

Earning your CCMA credential prepares you for jobs with titles including medical assistant, certified medical assistant, and clinical medical assistant. CCMAs work directly with patients. They may gather patient information, take patients’ vitals, obtain their medical history, record symptoms, and draw blood for testing. Depending on the office setting, they may also perform administrative tasks such as answering phone calls and questions and updating electronic health records (EHR).

The CCMA exam covers seven domains — which includes administrative medical assisting — but most topics are focused on direct patient care or clinical background knowledge:

  • 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

Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)

CMAAs can perform jobs with titles including medical administrative assistant, medical office assistant, and medical office secretary. These professionals often work at the front desk of health care facilities and are vital to running the office smoothly. CMAAs greet patients, update patient records (EHR), schedule appointments, order supplies, answer calls, review and answer practice correspondence, operate computer systems, and more.

 The CMAA exam also covers seven domains, but all are focused on the administrative side of health care:

  • Scheduling
  • Patient Intake
  • Office Logistics
  • Compliance
  • Patient Education
  • General Office Policies & Procedures
  • Basic Medical Terminology

Why you should earn both CCMA and CMAA credentials

  1. Greater flexibility means more opportunities

    Medical assistants are in high demand. The employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 18% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, the type of medical assistant in demand in your particular area may vary at any given time. The CCMA and CMAA certifications provide flexibility because you’re qualified to excel in administrative and clinical roles.

  2. Expand your job search

    While larger hospital systems typically prefer specialized medical assistants, smaller clinics and practices often hire medical assistants with well-rounded skills who can perform clinical and administrative duties.  If you think you’d like to work in a smaller office now or in the future, having both certifications is advantageous.

  3. Stand out among the competition

    Showcasing both CCMA and CMAA certifications on your resume shows potential employers that you’re willing to go the extra mile. They will see that you are ready to work in multiple areas and that you’d be a versatile employee who could add value to their organization.

  4. More opportunities for career growth and change

    About half of the U.S. workforce changes jobs every 1 – 5 years. If you have clinical and administrative knowledge and skills, more doors will be open for you. Whether you’re seeking higher pay, a greater challenge, a different setting, or a new health care career that requires additional training, you’ll be positioned well to work toward your career goals.

Ready to get #NHACertified?

Whether you want to achieve your CCMA, CMAA, or both, it’s clear that having a certification is critical: 89% of employers require or encourage certification for medical assistants.

If you’re ready to start or advance your career as a medical assistant, learn more about NHA’s medical assistant certifications and training tools:

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