The best options for medical assistant training in Virginia is looking to fill their classrooms and it is as important as ever with the increasing demand for qualified healthcare workers. If you would like to become a medical assistant in Virginia, you’ll be entering a career in a field (healthcare) that is among the fastest-growing in the entire country.
How to become a medical assistant in Virginia
Though it is not required to be certified to work as a medical assistant in VA, it is strongly recommended by state agencies and employers across the state of Virginia. Below are national certifying bodies recognized in Virginia.
National certifications from American Medical Technologists (AMT), American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), and the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) are all recognized in Virginia.
What is the process for becoming a medical assistant in Virginia?
To become a medical assistant in Virginia can be done in the following steps.
Step 1 – Determine whether you want to become certified or not
The initial step you must take is to make the decision whether or not you’re planning to become certified, and the professional training it will require. Not only can this choice determine the positions you’ll be able to interview for, but it could also determine how much time it will take before you start your career.
As you could probably imagine, choosing to take some time to become certified provides a number of significant benefits. On top of that, a lot of facilities now require that their staff be certified to help safeguard them against soaring insurance costs and litigation.
The trend toward compulsory certification has even started to impact non-certified personnel who have been employed for many years. A growing range of employers across the nation have started to expect their non-certified assistants to sign up for certification training courses in order to stay employed.
With all of that said, you can start searching for a job as a non-certified medical assistant right away should that be your choice. Step 2 and the later steps outlined in this guide apply only if you have decided to pursue certification.
Step 2 – Do you want to enroll in an associate’s degree program?
Another choice you’ll need to make is whether your goal is to pursue an associate degree, or a certificate. Either type of credential is recognized by most employers, but you should be cognizant of the advantages and disadvantages of each one.
Certificates and Diplomas
Diploma or certificate courses may often be completed in a year or less, and target their curriculum only on the skills and practical knowledge required to start working. A wide range of schools provide these sought after courses, and many of them are made available in an online format too. By comparison, associate degree programs require students to attend additional classes in non-related fields.
Associate degree courses are typically two years in length, and the material included is a lot more extensive in scope. Programs awarding this credential are usually located at community colleges and trade schools, so there are normally also higher admission prerequisites that must be satisfied.
Holding an associate degree does offer a lot of benefits that one will not have with only a diploma or certificate, however.
Regardless of the option you choose, make sure to base your choice on your long-term career goals and economic circumstances. The diploma or certificate route is usually the better option for those who are concerned about being capable of spending the time and money required for an associate degree. There is always the possibility of returning to school later and earning a degree after receiving a diploma or certificate too.
If you are interested in progressing quickly in your professional medical career, and already have a greater goal on your mind, then the extra time and money needed to get an associate degree may make sense for you.
Step 3 – Enroll in an accredited program
As previously mentioned, medical assistant education in Virginia is governed by numerous organizations including the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). You will need to complete a program approved by one of these bodies to become approved to challenge to become certified in the state.
There are a few things you should look for when you are selecting a program to register for. Think about the following things when comparing a program against another:
- Take CAAHEP or ABHES accredited courses
- Take classes where 70% of program grads passed their certification exam
- Fit school time and study time into your personal schedule
- Get costs to fit your budget
All of us have different goals that affect the choices we make. For instance, if you’re concerned about what your training will cost, you should start by eliminating those training programs that are outside your budget. Then, go on to the second-most significant thing (e.g. class availability, etc.) and apply that criteria to narrow down your options.
Applying this approach, it is easy to reduce your options down to only a couple of schools. Ensuring that the program you decide on fits your individual circumstances can significantly improve your likelihood of graduating.
Accredited medical assistant programs in Virginia
Step 4 – Complete clinical training hours
Obviously, graduation from a medical assistant training program is an important first step. Successfully taking this step means you have to finish the pre-determined number of hours of clinical training determined by your school.
You cannot be eligible to sit for a certification exam unless you have completed all of the required hours.
Step 5 – Pass a national certification exam
The state medical assistant certification exams used in Virginia are the five main national tests. These examinations incorporate segments on all principal areas of knowledge you would have been exposed to in your program.
Each of the major national certification assessments recognized in Virginia are listed below.
Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) from AAMA – every workplace.
Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) from AMT – This certification is recognized by virtually all facilities, signifies a nicely balanced proficiency in medical assisting, and can qualify its recipient for any kind of non-specialized medical assistant job possibility.
National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) from NCCT – The NCMA is awarded to graduates who have completed a diversified program in medical assisting studies, and is respected by most organizations.
Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) from NHA – The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) offers a credential especially for medical assistants considering being employed in a clinical setting.
Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) from NHA – The Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) national credential signifies advanced proficiencies in the tasks that are necessary to keep a medical care facility’s office running without problems.
Medical assistant salary and jobs in Virginia
The need for medical assistants is at record levels in not just Virginia, but throughout the entire U.S. Whereas the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 23% increase in new spots for medical assistants nationally through the year 2024, the government expects to witness a 32% growth in Virginia. Hospitals, physicians offices and outpatient clinics are anticipated to fill the vast majority of all new positions. Some government facilities also hire nursing aides, orderlies and assistants.
Regardless of the job environment, these positions will likely provide considerable time learning under the supervision of specialized medical personnel, physicians and various other positions the medical assistant might want to at some point advance into.
Below you will find a record of the major metropolitan areas in Virginia and more data on medical assistant pay by area and county.
|Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Division||Hourly||$12.11||$17.17||$24.08|
|Winchester, VA-WV MSA||Hourly||$11.19||$15.36||$18.70|
|Charlottesville, VA MSA||Hourly||$12.81||$14.96||$22.01|
|Richmond, VA MSA||Hourly||$10.42||$14.33||$19.43|
|Roanoke, VA MSA||Hourly||$11.97||$14.31||$19.78|
|Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA||Hourly||$11.33||$14.22||$18.64|
|Southwestern Virginia BOS||Hourly||$10.36||$13.87||$19.79|
|Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA MSA||Hourly||$10.24||$13.74||$18.30|
|Northwestern Virginia BOS||Hourly||$10.80||$13.62||$18.06|
|Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford, VA MSA||Hourly||$10.36||$13.41||$17.07|
|Lynchburg, VA MSA||Hourly||$10.28||$13.28||$16.97|
|Harrisonburg, VA MSA||Hourly||$9.75||$13.02||$19.06|
|Southside Virginia BOS||Hourly||$9.87||$12.57||$18.23|
|Northeastern Peninsulas BOS||Hourly||$9.59||$11.77||$18.58|