The Knowledge Nook

Is There A Difference Between CMA/CCMA Designations for Medical Assistants?

Posted by Tami Russell on Jun 21, 2017 3:47:06 PM


Medical Assistants can earn a variety of professional designations – including the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential or the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) credential. 

Is there a difference between the two?  Yes.  Read on to learn more.

How Does Someone Become a Medical Assistant?

 There are different paths to become a Medical Assistant, but experts agree that better opportunities await individuals who have received some type of training. 

Some Medical Assistants obtain the job after graduating from high school, or receiving a GED, and they learn necessary skills on the job.  A good core of courses to consider in high school would be advanced sciences, such as biology, chemistry, and anatomy.  Our experts advise, however, that more opportunities are available for potential Medical Assistants who have some form of training outside of what can be learned on the job.

For additional job opportunities, some Medical Assistants become certified as a Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA), based on successful completion of the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant exam.  Additional options for Medical Assistants include successful completion of exams that lead to designations such as Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) and EKG Technician (CET).

 According to, “receiving the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) designation from the National Healthcareer Association” allows incoming Medical Assistants to perform a variety of clinical duties. This designation is usually the faster track for individuals interested in entering healthcare without an advanced degree.

The National Healthcareer Association plays a vital role in “improving healthcare through greater competency,” according to their website,  Since 1989, “NHA has prepared and certified more than 500,000 healthcare students and professionals, providing them with nationally recognized measurements of competency.”

Another major designation, one that requires more education prior to taking the exam and applying for employment, is that of Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).  This designation “requires graduation from a postsecondary medical assisting program accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation,” according to the AAMA website.

Earning the CCMA or CMA designation is strictly the choice of potential Medical Assistants.  The Knowledge Nook advises that candidates review all the ways one can become a working Medical Assistant and decide which route is best.

What Does a Medical Assistant Do?

 A trained Medical Assistant may be tasked with daily responsibilities such as

  • Conducting patient intake
  • Measuring vital signs (such as temperature and blood pressure)
  • Logging vital statistics
  • Assisting physicians with patient examinations
  • Preparing exam rooms
  • Cleaning and sterilizing medical equipment
  • Administering injections
  • Performing venipuncture and other routine testing procedures
  • Scheduling patient appointments
Is Medical Assisting a good match for you?  Learn more by visiting PDI’s Medical Assistant certificate program website.  Fall programs begin August 29 in Frisco.  Click here for quick details on why this program may be right for you

Topics: medical assisting

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