When you’re choosing a medical assistant program to help you prepare for your career goals, medical assistant accreditation will likely be a key consideration – especially if you will be seeking certification following graduation.
You’ll also want to find out what medical assistant associations are available to help you select a program, pursue certification and continuing education, or meet peers in your field. Read on to learn more about why accreditation and associations matter, and how you can get involved!
Why is medical assistant accreditation important?
As a student, you’ll want to make sure you are selecting the medical assisting program that is best able to help you pursue your goals. Graduating from an accredited program is often a requirement for earning certification, a credential preferred by many employers. [i] Most importantly, accreditation indicates that a career-preparatory program has met national requirements for professional training and education. In other words, choosing an accredited program offers third-party assurance that your program’s curriculum meets the standards of the medical assisting field. [ii] While there are many other criteria besides accreditation to examine, ensuring that your school has been credentialed by a reputable association may be a good first step.
Who accredits medical assisting programs?
There are several organizations that accredit postsecondary medical assisting programs. You may be able to learn the details of your prospective school’s accreditation by visiting its website. Otherwise, contact the program directly to find out. Keep in mind that if you wish to pursue certification following graduation, your certifying agency may have specific accreditation requirements. For example, to become an RMA (Registered Medical Assistant), you may need to graduate from a program accredited by a regional or national agency approved by the US Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.[iii] To become a CMA (Certified Medical Assistant) following graduation, your school must be accredited by one of the following organizations: [iv]
Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP):
CAAHEP is the largest program accreditor in the field of Health Sciences, which includes medical assisting. The organization reviews and accredits 2000+ programs. [v]
Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES):
ABHES has been assessing the quality of health education programs since 1968. The goal of the organization is to promote excellence in career-preparatory programs for healthcare professions such as medical assisting. [vi]
What medical assistant association should I join?
Professional associations for medical assistants may be a great way to learn about educational and career-building opportunities in your field. These associations are a great resource if you have questions on what it’s like to be a medical assistant, what steps you should take to pursue a career as one, what certification you should seek, and other areas of concern. Here are a few associations to check out:
American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA):
AAMA offers CMA (Certified Medical Association) certification, but membership in this association has other benefits, such as continuing education opportunities, advocacy, fellowship, and networking. [iv]
American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistants (ASPMA)
This society helps podiatric medical assistants to pursue educational opportunities and certification, as well as to share ideas and fellowship with others in the profession. [viii]
Florida Society of Medical Assistants (FSMA):
Local or state organizations such as FSMA may help medical assistants find educational and professional opportunities, advocate for important issues in the field of medical assisting, and network with other members. [ix]
While accreditation, certification, and membership in a medical assisting association are all optional, keep in mind that this seemingly complex and confusing web of organizations exists for a reason: to ensure continued excellence in the field of medical assisting. Understanding the options and opportunities available to you is critical. By aligning yourself with the appropriately accredited programs and professional associations, you may be well on your way to attaining your career goals!