It’s hard to know where to begin with hundreds of certifications offered by dozens of different providers.
Since employers accept certifications from the National Health career Association, many teachers tell us that they begin with these.
These two certifications will prepare you for a rewarding career in medical assisting.
What are the differences? How do you choose the right one for your health sciences program?
This blog will compare the CMAA certification with that of the CCMA, and give you recommendations as to which would be best for you and/or your students.
We’ll start by explaining the meaning of each certification!
What does CMAA/CCMA certification mean?
A Certified Medical Administrative Assistant certification indicates that a person is able perform clerical tasks to keep a health office running smoothly.
The CMAA performs the following duties:
- Answering the phone
- Greeting patients
- Schedule appointments
- Verifying your insurance information
- Prepare daily charts
Depending on the location, a CMAA is also known as a medical secretary or medical assistant.
A Certified Clinical Medical Assistant is a health professional with a variety of skills who focuses on clinical procedures within an ambulatory setting.
CCMAs can also perform administrative duties in smaller healthcare facilities.
These tasks include:
- Checking in and out patients
- Helping doctors with procedures and exams
- Injections and medications
- Electronic health records: how to use them
- Perform EKG, Phlebotomy and Lab Procedures
- Taking patient vital signs
A CCMA may be called a certified medical assistant or a medical assistant in most healthcare facilities.
Let’s move on to the topic!
What topics are covered on the CMAA & CCMA exams?
The CMAA and CCMA tests are not the same! The CMAA has 110 questions, while the CCMA has 180. This is due to the fact that CCMAs are required to have a more in-depth knowledge of procedures and techniques than CMAAs. The exams also focus on different skills that certified employees need to be successful in a health facility. What a student should know to pass each certification exam
Topics for the NHA CMAA Exam
There are seven categories of questions in the NHA CMAA test:
- Basic Knowledge
- Communication and professionalism
- Medical Law, Ethics and Compliance
- Patient Encounter
- Billing Cycle and Revenue Cycle
- Medical Practice Administrative Procedures & Logistics
The Foundational Knowledge domain assesses a student’s understanding of basic concepts, which many medical professionals are expected to know.
The Communication and Professionalism Domain covers essential workplace skills that ensures medical assistants are able to interact with patients and work in a team. Medical Law, Ethics, and Compliance measures the students’ knowledge of workplace ethics and medical laws. The Scheduledomain describes the role of a medical administrative assistant in scheduling appointments, tests and procedures. The patient encounter domain focuses CMAA tasks related to reviewing information about patients, including demographics, health insurance and more. The Revenue Cycle and Billing domain focuses on billing and payments when processing patients. This ensures students can handle the revenue cycle in their facility effectively. Medical Practice Administrative Procedures and Logistics covers many of those regular logistical duties and tasks that a medical administrative aid will be expected at their facility to perform. CMAA certifications are only awarded to students who can complete specific tasks and possess a solid foundation of knowledge in healthcare. Check out NHA CMAA Test Plan to see all the details about what is on the CMAA Exam.
Topics for the NHA CCMA Exam
There are seven domains in the NHA CCMA test:
- Foundational Knowledge and Basic Science
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Clinical Patient Care
- Patient Care Coordination & Education
- Administrative Assistant
- Communication and Customer Service
- Medical Law and Ethics
The Basic Science and Foundational Knowledge domain covers what a medical assistant needs to know about medical terminology and healthcare systems.
The Anatomy & Physiologydomain focuses on what a CCMA should know about body systems, organ structures, pathophysiology and more.
The Clinical patient care domain makes up the majority of the CCMA test. The exam covers the daily duties and procedures that medical assistants perform. The course also covers general patient care, laboratory procedures, basic phlebotomy and EKG tests.
The Patient Care Coordinating and Educationdomain relates the different ways a CCMA interacts with patients and families.
The Administrative Assistantdomain focuses primarily on the tasks that a CCMA might be expected to perform in a smaller facility without medical administrative assistants.
The Customer Service and Communicationdomain ensures that a CCMA can communicate effectively and appropriately with patients as well as colleagues.
The Medical Law & Ethics domain covers important healthcare topics, such as advanced directives and the Hippocratic Oath.
To become a CCMA, students need to be proficient in a wide range of clinical skills as well as background knowledge.
To find out what the students should know, please read NHA’s CCMA Test Plan.
You now know the details of each certification exam. There is one final question.
Do you need to use the CMAA exam or CCMA in your medical assisting training?
20% OFF CMAA Course
Do you need to include the CMAA/CCMA exam in your course?
Four factors will determine which certifications you include in your program.
- Goals of your program
- Your student’s goals
- Your course standards
- Your local community has needs.
You can use the CMAA certification or CCMA certification based on a number of factors.
1. Your program’s goals
When deciding whether to use the CMAA, or CCMA, you should start by determining your program’s objectives.
Your program is designed to prepare students for a specific type of medical assistant career.
Which one is closest to your program?
The CMAA certificate prepares students to work as medical administrative assistants (MAAs), medical office secretaries (MOSs), and medical office assistants.
The CCMA certificate prepares students to work as traditional medical assistants, who can also perform administrative duties.
Consider the following factor if your program is new and you don’t have specific goals: your students’ goals.
2. Your Student’s Goals
You can choose the best certification for your student by understanding their career goals.
The CMAA is a better option for students who are interested in working in the medical field but don’t want to perform clinical tasks.
The CMAA is a great place to start if you are interested in a career path as a EHR specialist.
The CCMA is the best option for students who want to learn a wide range of clinical procedures.
The next factor will help you decide what medical assistant position your students want to pursue!
3. Your Course Standards
The majority of medical assistant courses require that you teach a certain set of standards or requirements.
You can compare the NHA test plans with your course requirements to determine the certification that best matches your standards.
The end result is well worth the effort!
If you still don’t have a clear winner, even after reviewing the course standards, then it’s important to look at a final factor.
4. Needs of Your Local Community
When all else fails, and you can’t decide between CMAA or CCMA certifications it is time to contact your local healthcare provider.
Who better to guide you than those who will ultimately employ your students?
If you choose one healthcare facility over another, it may be easier for your students to land their first job.
Smaller practices and clinics usually hire a CCMA with a skill set that is well-rounded to perform both administrative and clinical duties.
Hospitals and larger practices are likely to require both CMAAs as well as CCMAs, who are focused on specialized medical assisting.
You’ll discover that deciding which certification you want to use is a combination of all four factors. You may choose to implement both, depending on your circumstances.