Certification and the CMA (AAMA) Credential, On the Job, Professional Identity

The CMA (AAMA) Credential in Conjunction with Other Roles

In recent days I received the following two questions:

I would like to know if it is legal in the state of Michigan to work as a medical assistant and a nursing assistant. I started as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and later went to school and became a CMA (AAMA). Can I work for two companies—for one company as a medical assistant and for another company as a nursing assistant? I have tried to search for an answer elsewhere but have had no luck.

I am currently in nursing school (practical nursing). I will graduate in May. Am I able to maintain my CMA (AAMA) even after I obtain my licensed practical nurse (LPN) license? I hope I am able to do so.

I responded to these questions as follows:

  1. Thank you for your question. It is my legal opinion that Michigan law permits an individual to work as a nursing assistant for one employer, and as a medical assistant for another employer. It is important that you keep your CMA (AAMA) current, and that you fulfill any requirements for maintaining your CNA.
  1. Thank you for your question. There is no law or policy that would forbid you from keeping your CMA (AAMA) credential after you become an LPN. As you know, you will have to recertify every sixty (60) months in order to maintain currency of your CMA (AAMA).
Certification and the CMA (AAMA) Credential, On the Job, Professional Identity, Scope of Practice

Medical Assistants as Home Health Aides

Because of the great versatility of medical assistants, questions have arisen about whether medical assistants—especially CMAs (AAMA)—are permitted to work as home health aides (HHAs).

Most states have laws defining what qualifications an individual must have in order to work as a home health aide.  These laws also assign responsibility for the HHA program to an existing state agency, such as the department of health.  CMAs (AAMA) would have the opportunity to ask this agency whether their education in a CAAHEP or ABHES accredited medical assisting program, and their demonstration of didactic knowledge by passing the CMA (AAMA) Certification Examination, would meet or exceed the requirements of the home health aide law.  If the agency accepts the CMA (AAMA) credential in lieu of home health aide training, the CMA (AAMA) would then be able to work as an HHA.

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

Scope of Practice

Laboratory and Radiology Orders with the CPOE System

Since the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule permitting “credentialed medical assistants” to enter medication orders into the computerized provider order entry (CPOE) system as directed by an eligible professional (e.g., a physician or osteopath), many questions have followed. The issue of whether this final rule permits credentialed medical assistants to enter laboratory and radiology orders into the CPOE is one of particular interest.

The wording of the final rule, although open to some debate, supports the conclusion that credentialed medical assistants are authorized to enter medication, laboratory, and radiology orders into the CPOE. Please note the following:

1. On page 53985 of the Federal Register, the following CMS Proposed Objective is presented:

Use computerized provider order entry (CPOE) for medication, laboratory, and radiology orders directly entered by any licensed health care professional who can enter orders into the medical record per state, local, and professional guidelines to create the first record of the order.  [Emphasis added.]

2. The CMS receives feedback and narrows the decision down to a few different options (described in the previous entry on this blog).

3. The CMS essentially chooses the third option and concludes on page 53986 that “credentialed medical assistants” should be permitted to enter orders into the CPOE (as described in the previous entry on this blog).

4. CMS issues its modified objective on page 53987:

After consideration of the public comments received, we are modifying this objective for EPs as § 495.6(j)(1)(i) and for eligible hospitals and CAHs [critical access hospitals] at § 495.6(l)(1)(i) to use the same language as Stage 1 (with the addition of laboratory and radiology orders), as we did not finalize our proposed changes to when the order must be entered: “Use computerized provider order entry (CPOE) for medication, laboratory, and radiology orders directly entered by any licensed health care professional who can enter orders into the medical record per state, local, and professional guidelines.”  [Emphasis added.]

The CMS objective clearly expands CPOE to laboratory and radiology orders, as well as medication orders. However, it seems as though the wording of this finalized order contradicts the excerpts quoted above and the wider context of the comments and the CMS responses.

A fundamental rule of reconciling conflicting statements in a legal document is that the specific supersedes the general. Based on this principle, it is apparent that the general wording of the modified CMS objective contradicts the specific findings and conclusions in the body of the final rule. Therefore, a correct rendering of the final rule would be as follows:

“Use computerized provider order entry (CPOE) for medication, laboratory, and radiology orders directly entered by an licensed health care professional or credentialed medical assistant who can enter orders into the medical record per state, local, and professional guidelines.”  [Emphasis added.]

Scope of Practice

Medical Assisting Policies in Washington State

Hello again, everyone. Right-to-practice issues continue to pop up across the country. To keep all of you updated, here is a brief glimpse of what is happening in Washington state.

Public policy leaders of the Washington State Society of Medical Assistants (WSSMA) (including AAMA Trustee Patricia Hightower, CMA (AAMA)) have forged a strong alliance with the Washington State Medical Association (WSMA), and are participating in a broad-based coalition of health and allied health groups that are seeking legislative changes that would clarify and protect the medical assistant’s right to practice, and improve patient safety. Well-crafted legislation would also give the medical assisting profession legal authority, existence, and identity in this state. I have spoken with the WSMA staffer who is drafting legislation, and have also been in close contact with the public policy leaders of the WSSMA.

The battle for professional recognition persists from coast to coast. Keep up to date on what’s happening in your state, and make sure your professional voice is heard!