The first national organization formed for medical assistants was the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). Founded in 1956, the AAMA is the largest professional organization for medical assistants in the United States. The AAMA provides certification, continuing education, and advocacy for medical assistants, as well as resources and support for those interested in pursuing a career in the field.

Medical assistant

not to be confused with attending physician.
Healthcare professional performing routine clinical and administrative tasks

AN medical assistantalso known as a “clinical assistant” or health assistant in the US is a allied health professional that supports the work of doctors, nursing professionals, medical assistants and other healthcare professionals, usually in a clinical setting. Medical assistants can become certified through an accredited program. Medical assistants perform routine tasks and procedures in a medical clinic.

A “medical assistant” may be certified or registered, or it may be a loosely defined group (covering related occupational titles such as “physician’s office assistant”, “clinical assistant”, “assisting medical officer” or “ophthalmic assistant”). Profession should not be confused with medical assistantswho are licensed professionals trained to practice medicine and perform surgical procedures in collaboration with a physician.


Medical assistants perform routine clinical and administrative tasks under the direct supervision of a doctor or other healthcare professional. Medical assistants perform many administrative functions, including answering phones, greeting patients, updating and filing patient medical records, filling out insurance forms, handling correspondence, scheduling appointments, arranging hospital admission and laboratory services, performing some almostsecretariat duties, and handling billing and accounting. Duties vary by jurisdictional law and may include taking medical histories and recording vital signs, explaining treatment procedures to patients, preparing patients for exams, and assisting during diagnostic tests. Medical assistants collect and prepare laboratory specimens or perform basic lab tests at the facility, dispose of contaminated supplies, and sterilize medical instruments. They instruct patients on medications and special diets, prepare and administer medications as instructed, authorize medication refills as instructed, call prescriptions to a pharmacy, draw bloodprepare patients for X raytake along electrocardiograms, remove sutures and change dressings. They also facilitate communication between the patient and other healthcare professionals.

Some jurisdictions allow medical assistants to perform more advanced procedures, such as giving injections or get X-rays after passing a test or taking a course.

According International Standard Classification of Occupations, medical assistants typically require formal training in health care delivery to perform competently in their jobs. Formal education usually takes place at post-secondary institutions such as vocational schools, technical institutes, community colleges, proprietary colleges, online educational programs or junior colleges. Medical assistant training programs usually lead to a certificate or diploma, which takes about a year to complete, or an associate degree, which takes about two years. Topics of study include medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology, and programs may include a clinical internship, sometimes called an “internship,” where the student works as a medical assistant in a medical clinic.


In Bangladesh, medical assistants are known as Sub Assistant Community Medical Officer (SACMO). Medical assistants (now referred to as deputy community doctor) assist doctors posted in health facilities at the upazil health complex level and below. Medical assistants are produced by the Medical Assistant Training School (MATS). They get registration from the Medical and Dental Board of Bangladesh as an attending physician.


In Canada, medical assistants generally complete an educational program that prepares them to perform special care and secretarial duties for physicians, dentists, nurses, health care facilities and other health care providers. Instructional programs include courses in business and medical communications, medical terminology, principles of healthcare operations, public relations and interpersonal communications, software applications, record keeping and filing systems, meeting scheduling and planning, policies and regulations, and standards and professional ethics.

Medical assistant job responsibilities vary according to the nature and size of the healthcare facility where the individual works, but generally involve various administrative tasks such as scheduling appointments, handling private medical documents, and assisting patients with the admission process. .


In Malaysia, medical assistants are known as assistant medical officers (AM). They complete a three-and-a-half-year degree in the medical assistant degree program (DMA) recognized by the Malaysia Qualifications Agency. They work independently or with limited supervision from a physician to provide health services to underserved populations. The occupation is more like that of clinical officers in Tanzania and elsewhere.


In the United States, medical assistants traditionally worked almost exclusively in outpatient care centers, urgent care units and clinics, but that is now changing. Medical assistants now find employment in both the private and public sectors hospitals, inpatient and outpatient facilities, as well as assisted living facilities, administrative and clinical environments, or general practitioners and specialty physicians’ offices. According to the US Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Manual2014–15 edition, employment of medical assistants is expected to grow by 29%, much faster than the average for all occupations through 2022.

education and training

The New America Foundation criticized health care programs, particularly those run by for-profit schools like Kaplan and Everest Institute. Many school graduates cannot find full-time work, or cannot find work, cannot earn enough to pay off their loans, and default.[citation needed] According to the Department of Labor, the median annual salary for medical assistants in 2011 was $29,100, but students with medical assistant certificates typically earned less than $20,000. In some programs, graduates earned less than $15,080, the minimum wage, meaning they worked part-time. For example, Drake College of Business, Elizabeth, NJ, charges $18,000, yet 31% of graduates default on loans. Some public community colleges have successful programs where graduates earn upwards of $25,000 a year.

In the US, an institution’s health care program may be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Bureau of Accreditation of Schools of Health Education (ABHES) if its graduates plan to become certified or registered. Accreditation is a requirement of certifying agencies such as the American Association of Physician Assistants (AAMA), American Medical Technologists (AMT), and the National Health Career Association (NHA). There are currently over 600 CAAHEP-accredited programs at over 500 institutions and over 200 ABHES-accredited. Accreditation by CAAHEP, ABHES, or other accrediting associations requires that the institution’s healthcare program meet specific educational standards and provide sufficient classroom, lecture, and laboratory time.


Professional certification is a way to measure a medical assistant’s competence in an entry-level job. Certification for medical assistants is voluntary and optional, although encouraged by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and several other certifying bodies. Employers increasingly prefer or even require that the medical assistants they hire be certified.

In the United States, different organizations certify medical assistants. For one thing, the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) was founded in 1956. Certification can be earned by taking the CMA Certification Exam (AAMA) offered by the AAMA Board of Certification in consultation with the National Board of Medical Examiners, which also administers many national exams for physicians. The CMA (AAMA) exam is offered year-round at computer-based testing centers across the country. Only individuals who have successfully completed a CAAHEP or ABHES accredited healthcare program are eligible to take the CMA Certification Exam (AAMA). Those who successfully complete the CMA Certification Exam (AAMA) earn the CMA (AAMA) credential, a title that follows postnominally. A CMA (AAMA) must recertify every 60 months through continuing education or reexamination to maintain certification.

Other credential options include becoming a Registered Medical Assistant (RMA). Accreditation is voluntary. The American Medical Technologists (AMT) agency is responsible for certifying MAs who choose this course. The AMT began offering this certification in 1972. The AMT has its own conventions and committees, statutes, state chapters, officers, registrations, and revalidation exams. To become eligible to receive the RMA title, a student must pass a health care curriculum at a school accredited by the National Commission of Certifying Agencies (NCCA) or have a minimum of five years of experience.

The National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) is an independent credentialing organization that has administered more than 400,000 certification exams in the United States since 1989. Its National Certified Medical Assistant certification program has achieved accreditation from the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Candidates who meet all medical assistant eligibility requirements and pass the NCCT national certification exam earn the NCMA credential (NCCT). The NCCT accepts applicants from approved college/university health care programs and provides additional experience-based qualification pathways. Once certified, the NCMA (NCCT) must complete 14 hours of continuing education annually to maintain the credential.

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