Upskilling and ReskillingMarch 11, 2024

Enhancing Healthcare Workforce Skills: The Impact of Medical Assistant Training Programs and Certifications

Article by Christina DeBusk
Four healthcare professionals smile and converse while reviewing documents.

Healthcare organizations are facing a shortage of medical assistants which, for some, is negatively impacting their ability to see patients – to the point where they must limit their office hours.1 At the same time, three in four workers (75%) say they’d stay with their employer longer if offered a clear career path which included training.2

This suggests that a real solution for easing the medical assistant shortage is to implement upskilling and reskilling programs. This could enable facilities to provide uninterrupted patient care while giving employees access to the training they desire to advance their careers, potentially improving their retention, especially when this training includes certification prep.

Benefits of a Medical Assistant Program for a Cross-Functional Team

Healthcare worker shortages aren’t new. For at least the last 50 years, the demand for individuals to fill these skilled positions has outpaced the supply in many areas of the world.3 That said, the pandemic worsened this shortage, leading experts to predict that some roles will have a deficit in the hundreds of thousands by 2030.4 Developing a cross-functional team, which includes medical assistants, can help relieve this deficit.

One of the main contributors to the worker shortage is burnout.5 Some researchers propose that increasing an organization’s medical assistant staff can help protect against burnout in healthcare teams. This was supported by a study of a primary care model which increased the ratio of medical assistants to primary care physicians, along with expanding the medical assistant role, resulting in improved burnout rates.6

Developing a cross-functional team has other benefits as well. They include:7

  • More efficient problem-solving
  • Improved communication within the organization
  • Better collaboration among departments, as well as with other organizations
  • Increased efficiency
  • More leadership opportunities

Important Certifications for a Medical Assistant

Certification helps ensure a necessary level of competency in healthcare staff, serving as validation of their knowledge and skill sets.

Certified healthcare workers also provide value on an organizational level, increasing productivity and proficiency while improving patient services in terms of quality and certain financial aspects.8

Some states require that medical assistants be certified to work in this role.9 Employers may also prefer or require that their medical assistant staff hold these advanced certifications.

Infographic stating that 62% of employers find certification the most important crtierion when hiring. See citation number 10 for further information.

The NHA’s CCMA Certification

The NHA offers a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) certification.11 The certification exam is a multiple-choice test consisting of 150 scored items and 30 non-scored pretest items, though the test-taker doesn’t know which are which. Individuals have three hours to complete the test. The pass rate in 2022 was 75.1%.

Areas assessed in the CCMA exam include foundational knowledge and basic science (15 questions), anatomy and physiology (8), clinical patient care (84), patient care coordination and education (12), administrative assisting (12), communication and customer service (12), and medical law and ethics (7). Specific knowledge and skill areas assessed are:

  • Health care systems and settings
  • Medical terminology
  • Basic pharmacology
  • Nutrition
  • Psychology
  • Body structures and organ systems
  • Pathophysiology and disease processes
  • Patient intake and vitals
  • General patient care
  • Infection control and safety
  • Point of care testing and lab procedures
  • Phlebotomy
  • EKG and cardiovascular testing
  • Patient care documentation and education
  • Administrative task performance
  • Communication types and cycle
  • Legal and regulatory requirements
  • Ethics

To retain the CCMA certification, individuals must recertify every two years. This requires the completion of 10 continuing education credits.

The certification exam costs $160 for all individuals taking the test on or after January 10, 2024. The cost for renewal is $179. If recertification courses are taken through the NHA, they are free to individuals with a current CCMA certification.

A healthcare professional holding a tablet smiling

Empower Your Team Through Medical Assistant Training and Certification

Providing your organization’s current medical assistants access to an upskilling program can help increase their knowledge and enhance their skill sets. Upskilling enables healthcare workers to keep up with the latest technological advancements, contributes to a culture of learning, and allows organizations to avoid the negatives of hiring externally – such as increased hiring costs, the time it takes the new staff to learn the job, and the risk that a new-hire isn’t a good fit.12

For staff members who move into or cross-train for a medical assistant role, providing access to a reskilling program also provides benefits. They include an improved ability to expand your organization’s roles and abilities, greater versatility, not having the cost or time needed to hire new medical assistants, and improved retention of top talent.13

Healthcare organizations can even provide medical assistants access to programs designed to prepare them for certification tests. These programs can give employees a better understanding of the certification exam and what to expect. This can increase their confidence when taking the actual test.

Nasium Training: Medical Assistant Upskilling, Reskilling, & Certification Preparation Solutions

Nasium Training offers a 25-week Medical Assistant Training course. This course includes comprehensive instruction in the skills needed to perform this role. It also prepares learners to sit for the NHA’s CCMA certification exam, even including payment of the exam fee.

The curriculum for Nasium Training’s Medical Assistant Training course is available online, providing learners with access to materials when it’s most convenient for them.

Nasium Training also offers a 2-week Certified Medical Assistant Exam Prep course. This course is designed to help prepare students for the NHA’s CCMA certification exam by taking them through interactive modules. Materials for this course are also available online, providing maximum learner flexibility.

Contact us today to learn more about your medical assistant training and exam preparation options. The ability to customize Nasium Training solutions can help you develop a cross-functional team for your specific organization while also developing a highly competent and skilled group of staff.

1 American Hospital Association. How Some Hospitals Are Grappling with the Workforce Shortage.

2 Based on 1,000 participants surveyed in the Study on Allied Health Workforce Retention commissioned by UMA Education, Inc. and ACUPOLL ® Precision Research, Inc., February 3-22, 2023.

3 Bludau H. Global Healthcare Worker Migration. Anthropology.

4 Wilensky G. The COVID-19 Pandemic and the US Health Care Workforce. JAMA Health Forum.

5 American Hospital Association. Data Brief: Health Care Workforce Challenges Threaten Hospitals’ Ability to Care for Patients.

6 Shaw J, Wing M, Brown-Johnson C, et al. Primary Care 2.0: A Prospective Evaluation of a Novel Model of Advanced Team Care With Expanded Medical Assistant Support. Annals of Family Medicine.

7 Birt J. What Are Cross-Functional Teams? (Benefits and Examples).

8 National Healthcare Workers Association. Benefits of Certification.

9 Bureau of Labor Statistics. How to Become a Medical Assistant.

10 NHA. 3 Key Stats About Medical Assistants in 2022.

11 National Healthcareer Association. Your Path to Medical Assistant Certification: Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA).

12 LinkedIn Learning. Benefits of Upskilling Employees vs. Hiring Externally.

13 Indeed Career Guide. Upskilling and Reskilling: Importance and Differences.

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