Professional Identity

The Significance of the Words Registered and Certified in Credentials

I recently received the following question about medical assisting credentials: 

My new employer tells me that the [RMA(AMT)] credential is better than the CMA (AAMA) credential because the R in RMA stands for registered, and registered nurses (RNs) are licensed. Is this correct? 

This understanding is incorrect. The registered medical assistant (RMA) of American Medical Technologists (AMT) and the CMA (AAMA) are both national credentials. The presence of the word registered in a credential does not make it equivalent to a license. Similarly, the presence of the word certified in a credential does not make it inferior to a credential containing the word registered. Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), for example, are licensed. 

14 thoughts on “The Significance of the Words Registered and Certified in Credentials”

  1. Thank you for that. I have gotten asked that question. Why certify then? I am certified and will continue with that so how would you explain that question if asked?

    1. Thank you for your question. It is important to obtain and maintain the CMA (AAMA) credential because the laws of some states are requiring a medical assistant to have an accredited medical assisting credential (such as the CMA (AAMA)) to be delegated, and to perform, certain tasks.

      In 2022 Connecticut and South Carolina enacted legislation that requires (among other requirements) that medical assistants have an accredited medical assisting credential to administer certain types of injections. In 2022 Delaware and South Dakota executive branch agencies issued regulations or policies that only credentialed medical assistants were permitted to perform certain tasks.

      I hope this is helpful.

      Donald A Balasa JD MBA
      CEO and House Legal Counsel
      American Association of Medical Assistants

  2. How can my employer get away with allowing RMA’s to identify as CMA’s? They put “CMA” on their work badge and allow them to call themselves CMA’s? I pride myself in the fact that I went to an accredited school and got a degree in Medical Assisting. Some of these RMA’s attend a non accredited school for a few short months.

    1. Thank you for your comment. It is misleading for an employer to refer to an RMA as a CMA and to put “CMA” on the name badges of non-CMAs (AAMA). I or our General Counsel would be wiling to write a legal letter to an appropriate manager pf your employer. Please provide a name and email address if you would like us to do so.

      Donald A Balasa JD MBA
      CEO and House Legal Counsel
      American Association of Medical Assistants

      1. I too had that with my employer. Every MA’s badge read Certified. I contacted Mr Balasa along with the president of our physician network and HR. After presenting articles and not backing down, the two appropriate distinctions were made.
        I went to an accredited school, took the CMA exam and have recertify d twice since then. Others were “grandfathered in” with work experience and AMT exam.
        Even though I haven’t worked the last 1.5 years, I still keep my CEUs and credential current I worked too hard for those and l am very proud of them.

          1. I, too, went through an approved Medical Assisting program and sat for the exam to become certified. I am proud of my knowledge and work ethic. I worked for the same family of providers for my whole career, from 1975 until retirement last year, with 11 years out of the practice to raise my children. For almost 10 years of that time, 2009 – 2018, we were part of a large medical group here in Florida. The group hired anyone interested in the clinical side and called them Medical Assistants. Then came the command that they had to be certified or registered. I was horrified to realize that they only had to pay a small amount to join and then pass an online test to get the RMA title. My almost 40 years of experience meant little to management. But I loved my job of caring for people and would do it all over again!

    2. I agree with you I have worked with CMA, RMA, MOA and MA ….. My credentials I am very proud of my training. I feel like we should be a pay grade or 2 above some who can get their certification within 8 months and get the same title as us is very much unfair and demeaning for someone who has more education.

      1. I agree and disagree. They should not be considered CMA, but if they are doing the same exact job as I am and doing it correctly then they should get the same pay. When the hospitals got rid of LPN’s the clinics took them on. They were making more then CMA, but doing the same work as us. They raised CMA’s salaries to match the LPN’s.

  3. I am working in a position titled Health Tech, but being that I am a CMA, should I get additional pay just as they pay those who are either an LPN, or RN?

  4. I work for a very large medical affiliation in Minnesota. I have been there for 19 years and they will only hire CMA’s. I am not sure why they do not hire RMA’s though.

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