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.