Medical Assistant Programs and Certification in Connecticut
Connecticut medical assistants carry out many routine tasks in ambulatory care settings. Career prospects are bright, and medical assisting represents a relatively quick entrance into healthcare.
Medical assistants not only improve their lives, they improve healthcare. Potentially, Connecticut’s MAs could be doing even more than they are right now. There are individuals and organizations in the state working toward expanding their scope of practice.
The Best Medical Assistant Program Options in CT
Capital Community College in Hartford has had a CAAHEP-accredited program for more than 20 years. The school states that students will be able to test through AAMA or AMT and receive CMA or RMA credentialing. Capital Community College offers a 60-credit program that culminates in a four-credit externship.
Goodwin College in East Hartford, also CAAHEP-accredited, gives students the choice of a certificate or an associate degree. The school offers flexible scheduling options.
Norwalk Community College offers a certificate program with a 175-hour externship. Students may, if they choose, apply their coursework toward an Associate Degree in Medical Office Management. Norwalk Community College is also accredited at the programmatic level.
Connecticut Medical Assistant Certification Options
Medical assistants are unlicensed. Employers, though, often seek certification. There are multiple third party certification agencies. Fully five of them offer medical assisting or clinical medical assisting certifications that hold accreditation by the National Commission of Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Initial certification is dependent on meeting prerequisite requirements and passing a certification examination. Certification must be renewed periodically. Certifying agencies have different methods of ensuring continuing competency.
The Department of Health obtains and makes public lists of Connecticut medical assistants who hold certification as Certified Medical Assistants by the American Association of Medical Assistants or Registered Medical Assistants by American Medical Technologists. This does not mean that CMA (AAMA) and RMT are the only certifications that will be recognized by Connecticut employers. In late 2019, one pediatric practice noted four options, all nationally accredited: AAMA and AMT made the list; so did the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) and the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT).
At least one health system noted another certification, Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant, as a preferred qualification.
Academic Foundations: How long does it take to become a Medical Assistant in CT?
Some medical assisting programs are less than a year; others, much longer. Programs may award certificates, diplomas, or associate’s degrees.
All NCCA-accredited medical assisting set standards for academic qualification, though some have alternative pathways for experienced medical assistants. Academic qualification may be tied to accreditation. A formal military training program or registered apprenticeship may be accepted; this depends on certifying body.
Programmatic accreditation may be granted by the Commission on Accreditation of Health Education programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau for Health Education Schools (ABHES). Institutional accreditation may be granted by other agencies recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). Connecticut boasts three programs that are accredited by CAAHEP. Currently no major certifying bodies restrict examination eligibility to students who graduate from medical assisting programs that hold accreditation at the programmatic level. This is a recent development. The American Association of Medical Assistants has a pilot program that allows graduates of programs that hold only institutional accreditation to test for CMA certification; the program, though, is described as time limited.
Generally speaking, an individual who seeks to qualify through either AMT or AAMA on the basis of a medical assistant program housed in an accredited institution will need to ensure his or her program is at least 720 hours. AAMA mandates 560 hours of coursework and 160 hours of externship or practicum, though 1,000 hours of post-completion experience can substitute for externship.
Connecticut has three CAAHEP-accredited programs. There are currently no ABHES-accredited programs in the state. There are, though, multiple programs housed in accredited institutions.
Medical Assistant Scope of Practice: What can a Medical Assistant do in CT?
States set scope of allowable duty for medical assistants. There can be differences depending on the licensed professional who is doing the delegating. The American Medical Assistant Association has provided links to Connecticut documents which suggest prohibitions on some tasks that are customary in many places. Nonetheless, Connecticut has average utilization of medical assistants (with a location quotient of 1.0, the national norm). Pay is above average.
The Department of Health states that students who attend school in Connecticut will be limited in the tasks they perform in actual patient care settings by what’s allowable in state code. Some tasks, though, may be simulated.
A bill was introduced in 2019 that, if passed, would allow medical assistants to administer vaccines.
Employment: Top Employers in CT
The following are among Connecticut’s major employers:
- Yale New Haven Health
- Hartford Healthcare Medical Group Specialists
- Trinity Healthcare of New England
Medical assistants are typically found in clinics and medical offices. Work settings, though, are varied. One recent posting was for a school-based medical assistant.
Connecticut Medical Assistant Salary Information
Connecticut medical assistants averaged $18.44 an hour, or $38,350 a year, in 2018. The 10th percentile wage is listed as $27,880; the 90th percentile wage, $50,900.
Connecticut boasts an active professional association, the Connecticut Society of Medical Assistants. CTSMA publishes an e-magazine. The organization is a source of general information. It has also played a role in letting medical assistants and other healthcare professionals know about legislation that affects the profession — and has had a significant role in advocacy.
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