Certification and the CMA (AAMA) Credential

Follow-up: The Specific Nature of the “Certified Medical Assistant”

Many of you came forward with anecdotes in the comments section of my last post about the importance of properly identifying “Certified Medical Assistants.”  In light of all the issues you have highlighted, I thought it important to further elaborate on the topic.

MA is Not a Medical Assisting Credential

Some medical assistants, in an attempt to abbreviate the name of the profession, refer to themselves as “MAs.”  While this is a fairly common and innocuous usage, it is best to write or state the full profession name (i.e., medical assistant). Doing so helps promote the profession, while clearing up potential confusion in the marketplace.

Concern arises when the intialism for the profession is presented after an individual’s name, giving the appearance of a credential. Only professional or academic credentials—not positions of employment—belong after the person’s name.  Furthermore, the MA credential indicates the person possesses a Master of Arts degree. No MA credential exists in the medical assisting profession, and thus the letters should not appear after the name of any person who does not possess a Master of Arts degree.

Graduation is Not Certification

Much of the confusion around my previous post comes from the similar natures, and appearances, of certificates, certification, and “Certified Medical Assistant (AAMA).” While there is some overlap between the terms, the distinctions are specific. More importantly, they carry legal implications.

The completion of a medical assisting education program—whether accredited or not—will most likely earn the graduating student a certificate, diploma, or associate degree, which represents only the individual’s completion of the program.

Certification is a process by which a professional demonstrates competency in a field. To demonstrate this competency, that person is often required to pass an examination, as is the case with CMA (AAMA) credential. However, as I have written in the past, different medical assisting credentials exist, along with different pathways to certification. Remember, certification is always a separate process. For instance, successful completion of a CAAHEP or ABHES accredited medical assisting program is the first step toward CMA (AAMA) certification, but individuals must pass the CMA (AAMA) Certification Examination before they can use the CMA (AAMA) credential after their names.

Remember, employers can immediately verify their employees’ CMA (AAMA) status on the AAMA website.

Certification and the CMA (AAMA) Credential

Memo to Employers: Use of “Certified Medical Assistant,” “CMA”

In the days following my last post on the issues regarding the use of “Certified Medical Assistant” and “CMA” in New Hampshire, I have received a number of requests for a more generic version of the memorandum.

Below you will find such a document, which can be downloaded and distributed in your own state.

Remember, employers can immediately verify their employees’ CMA (AAMA) status on the AAMA website.

Thank you!

Generic Memo

Certification and the CMA (AAMA) Credential

The Specific Nature of the “Certified Medical Assistant”

I have written previously about the importance of properly identifying medical assistants, specifically regarding instances in which they are referred to as nurses. But, some issues exist within the medical assisting profession itself.

Using the phrase “Certified Medical Assistant” or the initialism “CMA” to describe a medical assistant who has not earned a CMA (AAMA) credential from the Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants is both incorrect and a matter of intellectual property law.

You can read about this matter in further length in the attached memorandum.

[Use of “certified medical assistant” and “CMA”]