Registered Medical Assistants and What They Do

You may not know it, but medical assistants are responsible for many of the day to day services that keep healthcare services running smoothly. Without them, healthcare facilities would be a giant mess. These talented workers can be found in all aspects of the healthcare industry, from clinics to assisted living facilities, as well as optometry and chiropractic practices.

What are Registered Medical Assistants?

Essentially the difference between a registered medical assistant and a “normal” medical assistant is in the credentials. Similar to certified medical assistants, registered medical assistants carry certification that tells people that they are well-trained and capable individuals. But, if you already know you’re well-trained and capable, why bother with the extra credentials? Here is one reason: it looks good on your resume.  Many employers hire only registered medical assistants or certified medical assistants. The credentials do not require too much more work after a medical assistant degree, so it is very much worth the investment.

What do Registered Medical Assistants Do?

Registered medical assistants take on the many of the responsibilities of medical assistants as well as a few others. Medical assistants usually assist physicians in the running of the practice by taking patient history, measuring vital signs, assisting patient examinations, scheduling appointments, and preparing laboratory tests. Additionally, medical assistants should know how to create electronic health records because many medical practices are moving their patient information into digital formats. Medical assistants may be found filing out insurance forms and coding patient’s medical information. Generally speaking, medical assistants perform all the “little things” that help make a practice run smoothly.

What Are the Requirements to Becoming a Registered Medical Assistant?

Medical assistants typically have at least a high school diploma to work in a healthcare related practice.  Beyond this, there are a number of associate degree or two-year diploma programs available that offer training in the duties and responsibilities of a medical assistant. These programs can be found at local community colleges, vocational schools, technical schools, universities, as well as online. Depending on the school these programs may require one to two years to complete.  One of the key things to look out for when deciding a program that is right for you is accreditation. Because there are so many programs available, you will need to make sure that your program is properly accredited. Accreditation is a gold standard that ensures that education providers are teaching the necessary skills and knowledge to become a successful medical assistant. In the United States two agencies are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accreditation Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

Beyond the two year degree, there are additional avenues to follow in becoming a registered medical assistant. Registered Medical Assistants are given their credentials from the American Medical Technologists (AMT). To earn this distinction, candidates are expected to either have five years of job experience or an accredited medical assistant degree.  Candidates are also expected to be of “good moral character” which is another way of saying you’re a good person and you haven’t broken the law. Once these qualifications are met, candidates are expected to take and pass the appropriate AMT certification exam.

Once this test has been passed, candidates will receive their credentials in the mail. Candidates will then be required to pay an annual fee tor membership. Additionally, registered medical assistants are required to provide continuing education credits every three years relevant to their certification specialty in order to maintain their credentials.