On the Job, Scope of Practice

Follow-Up: Washington State Medical Assisting Credentials

Since my post dealing with scope of practice issues under nurse practitioners and physician assistants, I have received a number of questions asking for clarification, particularly regarding the separate medical assisting credentials in Washington State.

Below are the documents outlining the credentialing requirements for two of the medical assistant categories (Registered and Phlebotomist) from the Washington State Department of Health. The credentialing requirements for the “Certified or Interim” category of medical assistants will appear in a follow-up post.

I hope these documents prove useful in answering your queries, but as usual, please contact me with any additional questions or concerns.

Thank you!

Medical Assistant-Registered
Medical Assistant-Phlebotomist

22 thoughts on “Follow-Up: Washington State Medical Assisting Credentials”

  1. The state is behind on processing these applications, and they say there are “thousands of MA’s” who have lost their jobs as a direct result. Not just laid off until the paperwork processes, but permanently lost their jobs (myself included). Is the AAMA willing to intervene on our behalf?

    1. I am very sorry to hear that medical assistants are losing their jobs. I and leaders of the Washington State Society of Medical Assistants provided testimony and input during the legislative and rule-making processes. Some of our recommendations were incorporate into the final version of the statute and the Washington Department of Health rule, and some were not.

      Within the parameters of the law, the AAMA is willing to help medical assistants and CMAs (AAMA) who have suffered hardships because of the new Washington law.

      Donald A. Balasa, JD, MBA
      Executive Director, Legal Counsel

      American Association of Medical Assistants
      Ph: 800/228-2262 | Fax: 312/899-1259 | http://www.aama-ntl.org

      Visit us on Facebook! http://www.aama-ntl.org/facebook

      The CMA (AAMA): Health Care’s Most Versatile Professional

  2. Please note we are legally unable to work in our profession until these are processed. We already had to apply (and pay) for both a Certified and Registered license.We were allowed to work for 60 days under the Registered while the paperwork processes, but they have not been able to meet their own deadline and we are “legally not able to work” (their words). There are no deadline extensions, the applications are not transferrable to another employer nor delegator.

    1. If you are dissatisfied with the performance of the Washington Department of Health, I suggest that you contact your state senators and representative and report these problems.

      Donald A. Balasa, JD, MBA
      Executive Director, Legal Counsel

      American Association of Medical Assistants
      Ph: 800/228-2262 | Fax: 312/899-1259 | http://www.aama-ntl.org

      Visit us on Facebook! http://www.aama-ntl.org/facebook

      The CMA (AAMA): Health Care’s Most Versatile Professional

  3. Toni, I am sorry you lost your job. If you were working Clinically as an medical assistant, meaning you were taking vitals and drawing blood, giving medications, giving injection, ect. You should have had a Health Care Assistant License which was the law before the current MA law came into effect in July. If you did have your HCA you should have been effected and you would have been grandfathered into the appropriate MA credential. If you did not have an HCA and worked as a clinical MA then you technically were not working in the confines of Washington State Law. I am not sure what your job was or if you had the HCA or not but what you were licensed with under your provider had ALOT to do with who got grandfathered in and who didn’t. And there is a group of educators working under something called the HEET grant that is hammering out a process for people to get credit for work experience from MAERB accredited schools, so that those people can sit for a state approved test to get the MA-C credential they need to work in WA.
    I hope that helps.

  4. I have to agree with Justin on this one. I was working with a Healthcare Assistant (HCA) license in WA state and when July rolled around I was automatically sent a Medical Assiting – Phlebotomist license so I could continue doing what I was doing. I currently am in my externship to become a Registered MA though… I am sorry the transition has been rough for you. It does sound like you were working without the proper certification though. Possibly.

  5. I am a CMA/AAMA who moved from Oregon last month. I applied for the new licensure last Summer and thought the process was going ok until I received a letter stating my transcripts were incomplete. I opened one of my sealed copies and it did not have my program end date although it had all of my end grades. It also did not state my completed externship hours. My school has long closed and the physician I did my externship with is deceased. This was done in 1981 and I am told baby the AAMA that externships were not required then.
    I just left a position in Oregon where I worked for over 10 years. There needs to be a work-around for cases like this. I have 8 physicians who will back my abilities as a MA!
    I spent over an hour and a half at the DOH recently and the best advice they could give me was to contact a school teaching MA and have my transcripts transferred there then “finish the program there”! Finish WHAT?!

    1. Thank you for your comment. I am sorry to hear about the difficulties you are experiencing.

      Last week I participated in a conference call with staff members of the Washington State Department of Health. They are aware of the problems that have arisen, and informed us of some improvements in the process that are already underway.

      Thank you again for informing us. The AAMA and the Washington State Society of Medical Assistants will continue to monitor the situation and provide assistance and recommendations to the Department of Health in Olympia.

      Donald A. Balasa, JD, MBA
      Executive Director, Legal Counsel

      American Association of Medical Assistants
      Ph: 800/228-2262  |  Fax: 312/899-1259  |  http://www.aama-ntl.org

      Visit us on Facebook! http://www.aama-ntl.org/facebook  

      The CMA (AAMA): Health Care’s Most Versatile Professional

    2. Hi Kelly C.
      I am in a very similar situation as you as I moved to WA from Cali in Nov 2012, leaving a 20+ year job as an MA with Sutter Health. I graduated from MA school in 1983, and too, was told my transcripts were incomplete and there were no hours logged into a computer (the school has since eliminated the program). I have been trying to get ANYTHING at local area hospitals only to be turned down as I am a 32 year Medical Assistant, why would I be applying for receptionist jobs?? All I know is healthcare and what a waste not to share my 30+ years experience with the state I chose to move to, but had NO IDEA a law was coming to block me from working in my field.
      Still looking for work!
      Raeanne A.

      1. Raeanne,
        I finally got the MA-C for the State of Washington and have been working at Evergreen Health in Kirkland for 8 months. It was a bit of a hassle, but, after inquiring at a local college I was directed to Highline Community College because they received a grant to help many in similar situations. They held weekend “clinicals ” on Saturdays last year. The classes were 4hours for 4 Saturdays. Some of the content was repetitive but many of the MAs in attendance were trained OTJ and had no previous experience with injections or blood draws. Basically, by attending, we received additional college hours, validation of skills required the the WA State DOH, and a new transcript from Highline. The grant paid for everything, including the National Exam, whichever one we decided to take ( or were qualified to take).
        I would contact Jennifer Johnston at Highline Community College in Des Moines. She was in charge of the program and the grant. jjohnston@highline.edu. See if it’s still going on or if it’s happening elsewhere, now.
        Good luck!

    3. Kelly,
      Thank you so much for responding back to me, especially since your original post was in 2013!
      Although I am very frustrated to learn of the opportunity you were able to take advantage of (you can only imagine all of the contacts and resources I came across, you think one of them would have had that information), I am also encouraged to know there WAS such a program for those of us caught in the bureaucratic system and it is my hope it is still available. If not, I will knock on the door (loudly) of the Secretary of WSDOH and contact the AAMA for additional support. How hard would it have been for the state to “flag” the medical assistants in our situation and notify them when a grant program like the one you attended was available. It’s the least they could do for putting us in this very difficult situation.
      Well, again, my sincere gratitude. I hope to put my 30+ years of experience to work soon here in WA.
      Take care,

      1. Kelly,
        Your message cut off, but I wanted to let you know I was able to reach Babs Cerna and Jennifer Johnston. The program is still available and it sounds like it will be ending in June. They both are working with me to gather any and all supporting documents from my previous employer, previous continuing education, etc. I am so grateful that you took the time to respond and point me in the right direction. Babs told me you even helped with the program after you received your certification.
        One last thing, were you working at the time you took the classes?
        Again, my sincerest gratitude.

      2. Oh, I’m so happy it’s still going! Just enough time, for you!
        Yes, Babs and Jennifer will take all your documentation, evaluate it, turn what they can into a Highline transcript and figure what you need. You should be able to take classes next term, some are online, depending on what you may be lacking. Even any CEUS you have proof of.
        I did help with the clinicals. My new job started in June of last year and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to add sixth day to my work week. They are all great instructors! And, I really enjoyed meeting all the other MA’s in similar situations.
        So, no, I wasn’t working at the time. I, also, really didn’t want to change from a back-office MA to front office. Even though I applied to a couple.
        I look forward to hearing from you. Hoping it goes well.

  6. My license says Medical Assistant-Phlebotomist Certification. Does the certification go with the ma part or the phlebotomy? With this license am I able to apply for a ma-c job or is it an MA-R position? Thanks for you help.

    1. Thank you for your question. Under WA law, the MA-P qualifies the holder to be delegated phlebotomy only. The MA-C is available only to those who have graduated from a medical assisting program and who have a medical assisting credential recognized by the WA Department of Health. The MA-R only requires a statement by the delegating physician that the medical assistant is competent in certain delegate tasks established by WA law. You are free to apply for MA-R positions but not MA-C. I hope this is helpful. Don Balasa

      Sent from my iPhone

  7. I am currently employed as a medical assistant in Washington State with an interim certificate that was granted to me by the WA DOH based on my education and nursing experience in Kazakhstan. ERES, an Educational Records Evaluation Service approved by the Washington State Nursing Commission, evaluated my educational record and judged my academic credentials to be “equivalent to an Associate of Science Degree in Nursing at regionally accredited institutions of higher education in the United States”, and my professional credentials to be “U.S. License Comparability of First Level General (Registered) Nurse”. I also applied for and received a Medical Assistant-Phlebotomist certificate. The Medical Assistant certification is renewable. The Medical Assistant–Interim Certification is not renewable. My problem is I cannot get seated for the Medical Assistant-Certified exam because I did not meet the eligibility requirements; i.e., an MA training program or the required years of MA experience. It seems ironic that my interim certification allows me full scope of practice of certified medical assistant but I am not eligible to take an MA exam. I have been denied a seat by NCCT and AMT. I have appealed to NHA and AAMA for testing eligibility and I am awaiting their decision. So that I do not have to give up my job as an MA when my interim certificate expires, I will ask my employer if I can work as an MA-Registered because my MA-P certificate allows me to perform blood draws and cardiograms. What do you think of my plan? In Washington State is there anything an MA-C can do that a person with a MA-R and MA-P credentials cannot do?

    1. Thank you for your question. I will send to your email the Washington law pertaining to MA-C and MA-R scope of practice.

      Donald A. Balasa, JD, MBA
      Chief Executive Officer, Legal Counsel
      American Association of Medical Assistants
      Ph: 800/228-2262 | Fax: 312/899-1259 | http://www.aama-ntl.org
      The CMA (AAMA): Health Care’s Most Versatile Professional®

  8. Thank you, Mr. Balasa. I have studied the authorized duties WA laws allow for MA-C, MA-R, and MA-P and it seems to me like a MA-R/MA-P can perform all the duties of an MA-C. But maybe I missed something?


    I hope I can sell the MA-R/MA-P = MA-C idea to my employer because it will be nine more months before I have the experience needed for NHA exam eligibility, and I do not know if I’ll ever get a decision from AAMA.

    1. You are very welcome! There is a difference in legal scope of practice of MA-Cs and MA-Rs. For example, only MA-Cs may be delegated IM, subq, and ID injections. MA-Rs may be delegated the following:
      (f) Administering eye drops, topical ointments, and vaccines, including combination or multidose vaccines.

      Donald A. Balasa, JD, MBA
      Chief Executive Officer, Legal Counsel
      American Association of Medical Assistants
      Ph: 800/228-2262 | Fax: 312/899-1259 | http://www.aama-ntl.org
      The CMA (AAMA): Health Care’s Most Versatile Professional®

  9. I did miss something! Thank you. Fortunately vitals, vaccines, and blood draws (which I can do as an MA-P) make up most of my hands-on work, so maybe my employer will let me continue to work while I wait for exam eligibility.

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