Medical office management and medical administrative assisting are some of the fastest online associates degrees you can earn. You might wonder what comes next after you complete this degree in as little as 18 months. Certification is one step that can boost your job prospects, but you likely have questions about it, such as whether you will need national or state-specific certification and how to acquire these professional credentials. For this career path, the most widely recognized certifications are awarded by national organizations, not by states or state-specific organizations.
Focus on National, Not Local, Credentials
IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay, public domain
For many occupations, state requirements are the strictest eligibility requirements you have to meet. That’s because, for occupations regulated by state licensure laws – which include many of the healthcare occupations –state exam and licensing requirements are what determine whether or not you are eligible to work in a career field at all. However, there generally are not state regulations or licenses required to work as a medical office manager or a medical administrative assistant. Instead of worrying about state-specific licensing exams, it’s certification from national professional organizations that you would seek to advance in this career field.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should entirely ignore the local aspects of finding a job. It’s a wise idea to begin looking at medical administrative assistant job postings even before you graduate so that you can get an idea what the top employers in your area are looking for in candidates for these roles. If you want to work for a certain medical facility, finding out whether that employer values certification or formal education more and what sort of proficiencies are in the highest demand can help you prepare for your future career. You may also want to learn about medical specialties that are prevalent in the area where you want to work, because you could benefit by learning the terminology, procedures and codes associated with these specialties.
You should know that certification isn’t mandatory to work in medical administration roles, but having professional credentials may help you get the job you want.
The Biggest National Credentialing Exams in Medical Administration
The Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) credential offered by the National Healthcareer Association requires you to pass an exam consisting of 110 scored questions over a period of two hours and 10 minutes. The first of seven topics areas is appointment scheduling, which includes questions that test your knowledge of the different types of patient scheduling, scheduling needs of patients and facilities, protocols for missed and follow-up appointments, coordination of diagnostic testing and medical procedures and appointment confirmations. In the patient intake section of the exam, test takers are quizzed on their knowledge of how to confirm patients’ demographic information, verify health insurance information, make sure forms are complete and up to date and prepare patient encounter firms and daily charts. A section of questions focusing on office logistics assesses your knowledge of the systems and practices of filing medical records, your ability to perform financial procedures and your conscientiousness in handling mail deliveries to the office.
In the compliance section of the test, questions revolve around your familiarity with HIPAA guidelines, OSHA guidelines and Medicare and Medicaid Services guidelines. The patient education content area of the exam evaluates the test-takers skill in explaining the Patients’ Bill of Rights, the patients’ insurance responsibilities and instructions for preparing for and recovering from medical tests and procedures. A section of the exam dedicated to general office policies and procedures covers typical office opening and closing procedures, patient greeting protocols, telephone etiquette, correspondence generation and basic computer skills. Finally, test takers are evaluated on their knowledge of basic medical terminology, including proper pronunciation and spelling and the meanings of terms and common abbreviations.
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) credential. The two-hour exam asks test-takers to complete 100 questions in multiple-choice format – 90 of which are scored and 10 are pretest questions – that cover competencies spread across six domains. The largest section of exam content, about one-third of the questions, fits into the Clinical Classification Systems domain. The questions in this domain revolve around tasks like interpreting data to assign the right codes, understanding clinical terminology, identifying information in medical records, using code reference materials, applying guidelines for inpatient and outpatient coding and physician coding and sequencing codes. The other domains tested include Reimbursement Methodologies, Health Records and Data Content, Compliance, Information Technologies and Confidentiality & Privacy.
The Certified Medical Administrative Specialist (CMAS) exam offered by American Medical Technologists consists of 200 questions designed to test your competency in administrative medical assisting. The exam covers topics in Medical Assisting Foundations, Basic Clinical Concepts, Medical Office Clerical Assisting, Medical Office Management, Medical Office Information Processing, Medical Office Financial Management, Medical Records Management and Health Care Insurance Processing, Coding, and Billing.
How do you prepare for certification tests in medical office management? Although you can purchase exam prep materials and take free or paid practice tests, you can also seek out associate’s degree programs with exam preparation content built into the curriculum.