Medical Assistant Programs and Certification in Maine
Maine utilizes medical assistants widely. State code specifically authorizes their use. Medical assistants are not licensed. However, they work under licensed medical professionals. They often hold third party certifications. Certifications signal competence to hiring committees (as does formal medical assisting education and/ or prior experience). Certification may be required to carry out certain duties. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requires medical assistants to hold credentialing to meet meaningful use requirements for entering orders into electronic health records (EHRs).
Kennebec Valley Community College lists electronic medical record documentation among medical assistant duties. Other duties include taking vital signs, performing EKGs and diagnostic tests, providing patient education, obtain insurance pre-authorization, giving injections, and drawing blood. Actual duties will vary, depending on the office or clinic setting.
Top Options for Medical Assisting Programs in Maine
Southern Maine Community College boasts an Associate of Applied Science program that holds programmatic accreditation through the Accrediting Bureau for Health Education Schools (ABHES). The program includes 160 hours of externship and culminates in an Associate in Applied Science. Several healthcare systems have partnerships with Southern Maine Community College (https://mainehealth.org/education-research/medical-assistant-training).
Eastern Maine Community College holds programmatic accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). The school has posted five years of examination outcomes results. It has maintained a 91.51% certification examination participation rate and 91.75% pass rate.
Kennebeck Valley Community College, CAAHEP-accredited for more than 20 years, offers a certificate program with an associate degree option. The school lists multiple professional partners, including Inland Hospital, Maine General, and Redington Fairview General Hospital. Kennebeck Valley Community College boasts an 89.16% five-year certification examination pass rate.
Employers frequently note certifications. Some state training expectations, for example graduation from an accredited program or a formal military program.
The following is a look at some of the state’s employers and the qualifications they sought for recent openings:
MaineHealth listed multiple positions in late 2019 that carried similar expectations. Applicants were expected to have either 1) experience and certification or 2) medical assisting education with externship or experience. They could qualify by education based on completion of an accredited medical assisting program or an associate’s degree in medical assisting awarded by an accredited college.
Northern Light, meanwhile, posted multiple positions for medical assistants with Certified Medical Assistant, Registered Medical Assistant, National Certified Medical Assistant, or Certified Clinical Medical Assistant credentialing (or, in some cases, the ability to obtain it). CMA, RMA, NCMA, and CCMA represent four different accredited options. At least one position noted AAMA certification or graduation from a CAAHEP-accredited program as a preferred qualification. At least one noted that Assessment-Based Recognition in Order Entry (ABR-OE) could be accepted in lieu of certification.
Central Maine Medical Center mentioned a fifth certification option: National Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA).
One will find multiple medical assistant certifications on the National Commission of Certifying Agencies website (https://www.credentialingexcellence.org/nccadirectory).
In each case, certification is dependent on passing an examination. Candidates must also meet standards set by the certifying body.
The American Association of Medical Assistants accepts only formal medical assisting education through programs that are accredited or are housed within accredited institutions. In the case of programs housed within accredited institutions, additional requirements apply. The program is to be the equivalent of at least one academic year and include at least 560 hours of non-practicum coursework and 160 hours of externship or practicum. 1,000 hours of qualifying experience may be accepted in lieu of practicum. Qualification by anything other than a CAAHEP- or ABHES-accredited program is available only under a pilot program; it is described as time limited.
Most accredited certifying agencies have experience pathways as well as academic pathways.
Maine Medical Assistant Scope of Practice
Maine code states that physicians and surgeons may delegate to employees or support staff customary medically related tasks; the physician retains control (http://legislature.maine.gov/statutes/32/title32sec3270-A.html).
Healthcare Career Ladders
For some people, medical assisting is a step along the path of a longer healthcare career. Southern Maine Community College has profiled a medical assisting student with aspirations to eventually continue her education and become a nurse. Her interest in medical care — and furthering her education – was sparked by a return to her birthplace in South Sudan (https://www.smccme.edu/student-profiles/).
Medical assisting does not articulate directly to nursing, but tuition reimbursement is included in some benefits packages. MaineHealth states that employees in benefits-eligible positions are eligible for up to $2,000 a year.
Top Maine Employers
Medical assistant employers include health systems, community health centers, and private doctor’s offices. The following are among Maine’s employers:
- St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center
- MaineGeneral Health
- Penobscot Community Health Care
- Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center
- HealthReach Community Health Centers
Maine Medical Assistant Salary and Career Outlook
Maine may have a lower than average population, but there’s a higher concentration of medical assisting jobs here than in most states. In fact, Maine has the 2nd highest job concentration of any U.S. state. Several parts of the state are noteworthy. Bangor has the 6th highest MA job concentration of any metropolitan area in the nation. The Northeast Maine nonmetropolitan area, meanwhile, has the 5th highest job concentration of any nonmetropolitan area in the nation.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported $35,160 as the average annual medical assistant wage in Maine in 2018. The 10th percentile wage was $27,260; the 90th percentile wage, $45,250.
The average in the Portland-South Portland metropolitan area was slightly above other parts of the state: $38,880. There was a similar range with those at the 10th percentile making $31,530 and those at the 90th percentile making $48,830.
The Maine State Society is the state professional association. There are four local chapters: DownEast, Kennebec Valley, Penobscot, and Southern Maine.
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