The demand for medical assistants is on a constant rise across the country. Medical assistants are allied health workers that assist physicians and other professionals in the smooth functioning of the clinic or hospital.
Their duties include both clinical and administrative tasks.
Though not mandatory in most states, medical assistants are encouraged to get certified. Employers prefer certified medical assistant,
as holding a certificate tells the employers that you are qualified to fulfill all the roles and responsibilities of a medical assistant efficiently.
Two of the popular certifications for medical assistants are –
1. Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)
2. Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)
Also see: 12 Reasons to Become a Medical Assistant
To get certified as a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant or CCMA, you have to sit for and pass the CCMA Exam held by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
To get certified as a Certified Medical Administrative Assistant or CMAA, you have to sit for and pass the CMAA Exam held by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
The main difference between the two certifications is that the CCMA certifications focus more on the clinical side of medical assistance, whereas the CMAA certifications focus more on the administrative side.
If you are interested in entering this highly rewarding industry, you might be confused about which certifications to choose.
Read on to find out more about the differences between CCMA and CMAA, what they both do, their roles and responsibilities and which is best suited for you.
Also see: Medical Assistant Degree vs Certificate
What is CCMA?
Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) is a certification provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). It is popular among medical assistants who want to focus more on the clinical side and interact directly with patients.
A CCMA certification will allow you to work as a certified medical assistant. They also perform administrative tasks whenever necessary,
although most of their duties involve clinical responsibilities such as recording vital signs, patient information & medical histories, and drawing blood. (Read More: What is a Medical Assistant?)
What does the CCMA exam consist of?
The CCMA exam emphasizes testing your clinical background knowledge and involves direct patient care. This exam covers a total of seven subjects, which are referred to as ‘domains’ by the NHA, including basic administration, such as:
- Medical Ethics and Law
- Administrative Assisting
- Clinical Patient Care
- Education on Patient Care Coordination
- Physiology and Anatomy
- Basic Science and Foundational Knowledge
- Customer Service and Communication
Also read: Medical Assistant Educational Requirements
What is CMAA?
Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) is another certification offered by the NHA which allows medical assistants to focus more on administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments, updating records of patients, answering calls, and more.
The CMAA certification allows you to work in roles such as medical office secretary and medical administrative assistant, among others.
Also see: How to Become a Medical Assistant
What does the CMAA exam consist of?
The CMAA exam emphasizes the administrative side of medical assistance. This exam also consists of seven major domains, such as:
- Basic Medical Terminology
- Patient Intakes
- Office Logistics
- Office Procedures and Policies
Also read: National Certified Medical Assistant NCMA
Roles and Responsibilities of a CCMA
Certified clinical medical assistants work across different healthcare settings wherein they are required to work directly with patients. They help physicians with inpatient treatments and other clinical procedures.
The duties of a CCMA include the following:
- Recording patients’ vital signs
- Drawing blood (phlebotomy) (Also see: Can Medical Assistants Draw Blood?)
- Collecting samples for analysis (urine and stool)
- Providing injections
- Removing sutures
- Assisting physicians with bedside procedures
- Recording patient health histories
- Ensuring proper intake of prescribed medicines
- Prepping examination rooms before and after each patient visit
- Assisting with simple wound dressings
Roles and Responsibilities of a CMAA
Certified medical administrative assistants majorly work behind desks, unlike CCMAs. They typically assist the physicians and other healthcare staff in the smooth functioning of the clinic or hospital.
The primary duties of a CMAA include the following:
- Schedule appointments
- Assist the patients with insurance claims
- Ensure compliance with procedures
- Answer calls
- Provide customer service
- Assist patients with paperwork and billing
- Interview patients before each appointment for health history
- Assist with transactions and medical software
- Maintaining office supplies
Also see: Medical Assistant Interview Questions
CCMA vs. CMAA: Which Should You Choose?
Now you have a general idea of the difference between a CCMA and a CMAA and their roles and responsibilities.
The next question that you might be wondering is which of these specialized careers you should pick. Which Medical Assistant Certification is Best?
Even though the path to becoming a CCMA or a CMAA looks similar, the key differences mentioned above set them apart.
Also see: Is Medical Assistant a Good Career?
If you wish to work exclusively as an administrative medical assistant, you should focus on getting a CMAA certification.
If you obtain a CCMA certification, you can apply for both clinical and administrative jobs, as it offers more flexibility. CCMA training covers both the aspects of medical assistance, clinical and administrative.
Since most medical assistant jobs require you to perform clinical and administrative tasks, you could fulfill both the roles of a clinical medical assistant and a medical administrative assistant.
See more on: Medical Assistant On-the-Job Training
You can decide which certification suits you best according to your interests. If your interest inclines more toward the administrative side of medical assistance, then picking a CMAA training course is your best bet.
If you are more inclined toward obtaining a certification that allows you to do both clinical and administrative tasks, then CCMA training would be your best choice.
The job opportunities are also more for CCMA certificate holders as it covers both clinical and administrative knowledge. (How Long does it take to become a medical assistant)
Now let’s see the exam structure for each of these certifications.
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CMAA Exam Structure
The NHA holds the CMAA exam, which consists of 110 scored questions. The NHA also uses 25 pretest items to gather data. As mentioned earlier, the scored questions usually consist of seven categories, which are also called domains, such as
CCMA Exam Structure
The NHA also holds the CCMA certification exam, consisting of 150 questions. The NHA further uses 30 pretest questions to gather data. The 150 questions fall under seven domains or areas, such as
Choosing medical assistance as your career can be gratifying, and picking a certification will help you gain the knowledge and skills that you are interested in.
Also see: Is Medical Assistant a Good Career?
Both CMAA and CCMA certifications are ideal, although if you are more interested in the clinical side of medical assistance, you should pick the CCMA certification and vice versa.
Read more on: Medical Assistant Career Path
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