Medical Assistants are known to be the backbone of the healthcare industry. This rewarding career has also been on the rise since there has been an increase in the baby boomer population.
A Medical Assistant is a healthcare worker who provides support services to healthcare professionals such as physicians and nurses. Their duties include both clinical and administrative tasks, which can range from assisting physicians with bedside procedures to scheduling appointments.
A National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) is a certified medical assistant who has cleared and obtained their certification from the National Center for Competency Testing (NCTT).
Even though getting certified as a medical assistant is not required in most states, employers highly prefer candidates who are certified, since it proves your competency and helps you advance your career.
Read on to find out more about the NCMA exams, salaries earned, how to become one, and more.
NCTT and NCMA Certification: Overview
The National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) is an organization that collaborates with various authorities to provide certifications in medical assisting, phlebotomy, surgical technology, and other allied healthcare professions.
Obtaining your NCMA certification as a medical assistant demonstrates to potential employers that you possess the necessary knowledge and skills for working as a medical assistant.
Also see: Medical Assistant Skills
While the NCMA certification is valid, it is not as widely recognized as other medical assistant certifications such as CMA, CCMA, and RMA. However, NCMAs find employment in various healthcare settings, including doctor’s offices, clinics, outpatient centers, long-term care centers, and hospitals. They may work in both clinical settings and focus on administrative tasks at the front office.
To be eligible for the NCMA exam, certain requirements must be met. The exam itself is a multiple-choice test that can be taken at designated testing centers or through online proctoring.
Also see: Medical Assistant Interview Questions
How to Become a National Certified Medical Assistant
Becoming a National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) is not that difficult, even though it may seem intimidating at first.
Here are the steps to achieve it:
1. Obtain your high school diploma or GED:
Before gaining experience or enrolling in a medical assisting program, a high school diploma or GED is a prerequisite.
2. Meet the prerequisites for the NCMA exam:
There are different routes to becoming eligible for the NCMA exam, including:
– Completing an NCCT-authorized medical assisting program: If you have finished a medical assisting program within the last five years, you are eligible for the exam.
– Acquiring two years of full-time experience within five years of registering for the exam: You can qualify for the exam based on work experience without formal education.
– Completing a medical assistant training course or its equivalent during military service in the United States.
3. Apply for the NCMA exam:
Create an account with NCCT and submit the required paperwork, such as proof of program completion or work experience, at least 14 days before your planned test date. After submission, pay the exam fee and complete your registration.
Also see: Medical Assistant Programs Cost
4. Schedule your exam:
The exam can be taken at a testing center or online through an online proctoring service. Online testing requires a reliable internet connection and a webcam.
5. Maintain your certification:
To keep your certification valid, you must complete 14 hours of continuing education courses each year. Additionally, an annual renewal fee of $77 is required.
Also see: How To Become a Medical Assistant
More Information On The NCMA Exam
The National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) exam is conducted by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). This exam assesses the knowledge and critical thinking abilities required to work effectively as a medical assistant.
By passing the NCMA exam, individuals demonstrate their competence and proficiency in the field of medical assisting. It serves as a recognized validation of the necessary skills and knowledge needed to excel in this role.
Requirements & Topics On the NCMA Exam
The NCMA exam, like other certification exams in the field of medical assisting, aims to assess individuals’ knowledge and competencies in a wide range of subjects related to medical assistance.
Let us take a look at all the topics covered in the exam-
Also some additional important information regarding the NCMA exam:
- Exam Length: The NCMA exam comprises 150 scored questions along with 15 unscored practice test questions, providing a total of 165 questions.
- Format: The majority of the exam consists of standard multiple-choice questions with four options to choose from. Additionally, there will be around 10 questions that require drag-and-drop, multi-select, or hotspot responses.
- Permissible Resources: During the NCMA exam, candidates are not allowed to use scratch paper, study notes, or calculators.
- Time Limit: Candidates are given a total of 3 hours to complete the exam within the designated time frame.
Requirements to Pass the NCMA Exam
Each question on the NCMA exam is assigned a value based on its difficulty level. Harder questions are assigned a higher point value compared to easier ones. The total number of points a candidate can earn on the exam varies depending on the specific test form.
To pass the NCMA exam, you need to achieve a minimum score of 70.
How Much the NCMA Exam Costs
The NCMA exam fee is $119. Additionally, there is an optional NCMA review course available for purchase at a cost of $70, which can assist you in preparing for the exam.
Once you have obtained your NCMA certification, there is an annual renewal fee of $77 to maintain your certification.
How to Prepare for the NCMA Exam
The NCCT provides various flashcards, case scenarios, and interactive review questions. It is important to assess your study requirements and choose the review system that aligns best with your learning style and goals.
In addition to dedicated review systems, there are numerous medical assistant exam books available online. While it is not necessary for the book to be specific to the NCMA exam, reviewing general medical assisting content can still be highly beneficial in your preparation.
As your exam day approaches, it is crucial to prioritize rest and avoid cramming excessively. Getting plenty of sleep the night before the exam will help you stay focused and alert. On the day of the exam, arrive at the testing center ahead of time to allow for parking, restroom breaks, and finding the exam room without feeling rushed.
NCMA Exam Statistics
In 2021, a total of 6,577 individuals took the NCCT exam. Among these candidates, the passing rate was 56.8%. It is important to note that this passing rate encompasses both first-time attempts and repeat attempts by candidates.
How Many Times Can You Take the NCMA Exam
In case a candidate does not pass the NCMA exam on the first or second attempt, they need to wait for a period of 30 days before they can try again. In the event of a third failed attempt, there is a necessary waiting period of one year before the candidate is eligible to take the exam for the fourth time.
Candidates are allowed a maximum of four attempts to pass the NCMA exam. If they do not succeed on the fourth attempt, they have the option to pursue different types of medical assistants certification.
It is important to note that the 150 questions on the NCMA exam are drawn from a larger question bank. While there may be some repeat questions, the overall test will be different each time it is taken.
What is an NCMA and What Do They Do?
A National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) is an individual who has successfully completed the necessary training and passed the certification exam in the field of medical assisting. Medical assistants are essential members of the healthcare team and are primarily employed in doctors’ offices, clinics, and outpatient centers.
Medical assistants play an important role in providing healthcare services to patients. They work closely with physicians to ensure the efficient delivery of healthcare. Their responsibilities encompass a range of tasks, including both administrative and clinical duties.
- On the administrative side, medical assistants handle tasks such as scheduling appointments, managing medical records, billing and coding, and coordinating with insurance companies. They also assist patients by providing information and support during their healthcare journey.
- On the clinical side, medical assistants work alongside physicians to perform tasks like taking vital signs, preparing patients for examinations, collecting and preparing laboratory specimens, administering medications as directed, and assisting with minor procedures. They provide crucial support in ensuring patient comfort, safety, and overall well-being.
See more: Medical Assistant Job Duties
NCMA Salaries & Job Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants earn an average annual salary of $37,190, which is approximately $17.88 per hour. It’s worth noting that holding a certification also helps medical assistants earn up to 10% more than uncertified ones in this field.
The job outlook for medical assistants is promising, with a projected growth rate of 16% between 2021 and 2031. By obtaining a National Certification as a Medical Assistant (NCMA), individuals can demonstrate their proficiency and expertise in the field.
More on: Medical Assistant Job Outlook
What is the difference between NCMA, CCMA, RMA, and CMA?
The primary difference between NCMA, RMA, CMA, and CCMA certifications lies in the agency that administers the certification. Each certification is offered by a different organization, namely the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) for NCMA, American Medical Technologists (AMT) for RMA, American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) for CMA, and National Healthcareer Association (NHA) for CCMA.
Is the NCMA exam hard?
The NCMA exam is indeed considered challenging, as indicated by its first-time pass rate, which is less than 60%. However, students who complete a high-quality medical assisting program and dedicate a sufficient amount of time to studying have a higher likelihood of passing the exam on their first attempt.
How long does the NCMA training program take?
The duration of a medical assisting program can vary from four months to two years before you can qualify for the NCMA exam.
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