Medical Assistant Programs in Nebraska: The Road to Certification
Medical assistants have broad training; this allows them to play a supportive role in both the medical front office and the medical back office (including examination and treatment rooms). Nebraska residents can train for careers in medical assisting in one to two years.
Nebraska MAs are not required to hold state credentials to be employed as medical assistants. However, they do need state credentials for some duties.
Best Medical Assistant Programs in Nebraska
Southeast Community College boasts a CAAHEP-accredited program. During their last term, students put in 225 hours of experience in a doctor’s office. The college reports that 94% of the class of 2018 either found work or continued their schooling. Southeast Community College boasts an 85% job placement rate over a five-year period.
Nebraska Methodist College offers a 930-hour CAAHEP-accredited certificate program that includes fully 300 hours of clinical experience. Students take the CMA (AAMA) examination before graduation. Nebraska Methodist College also offers an associate’s degree completion program for medical assistants who want to continue their education.
Central Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science program on its Columbus and Hastings campuses. The Hastings medical assisting program is CAAHEP-accredited. Tuition and basic fees for Nebraska residents are just $6,300 for the full program. The school notes that there are some additional costs associated with the program. Prospective students take an academic test as part of the qualification process. The requirement is waived for those who have taken the ACT.
Third Party Medical Assistant Certifications
Medical Assistants can demonstrate competence by earning examination-based third party certifications. Nebraska employers frequently reference the Certified Medical Assistant, or CMA, credential. This particular credential is granted by the American Association of Medical Assistants. However, some people use the term CMA (with capitals) in a generic way to denote certification. Some Nebraska postings are for “CMA or RMA”. The Registered Medical Assistant, or RMA, credential is granted by American Medical Technologists. Still other employers indicate that they are open to other certifications. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies has accredited five organizations that grant medical assistant or clinical medical assistant credentials; this is as of 2020.
AAMA and AMT set slightly higher prerequisite requirements than some. There is no experience pathway for the CMA (AAMA) credential. An individual must complete an accredited medical assistant program or a medical assistant program that is housed in an institutionally accredited school. Qualification on the basis of institutional accreditation is available only under a three-year pilot program. The traditional pathway is dependent on completion of a program that holds one of two accreditations: the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
The RMA is available to candidates who meet education, experience, or military pathway requirements. Here, too, education may be obtained in an accredited program or a program housed in an accredited school. AMT, like AAMA, sets minimum standards for programs housed in accredited institutions. The AMT experience pathway is for medical assistants who have been on the job at least five of the previous seven years. (Some certification agencies set their experience pathway requirements at a lower level.)
Some employers, though, state that they want candidates with formal medical assisting education.
Nebraska Medication Aide Registration
A person must be credentialed as a medication aide in order to administer medication in Nebraska facilities. This does not mean that a medical assistant will need to pursue more coursework. Medical assistants who are employed in office or clinic settings – the most common medical assistant work settings — just need to pass a competency assessment. Medication administration in some settings (for example, assisted living) requires completion of a 40-hour course.
The following are among the Nebraska employers:
• Nebraska Methodist Health System
• Hillcrest Health Services
• Children’s Hospital & Medical Center
• CHI Health
• OneWorld Community Health Centers
Great Plains Health (North Platte) appeared on the Becker’s Hospital Review 2019 list of top healthcare employers.
Scope of Practice and Typical Job Duties
Nebraska, like most states, does not provide a list of delegable duties. The Legal Counsel of the American Medical Association has concluded from state law and common law principles that Nebraska physicians can delegate reasonable duties to medical assistants either directly or through other licensed professionals such as physician assistants and registered nurses (https://www.aama-ntl.org/employers/state-scope-of-practice-laws#GAscope).
Southeast Community College lists blood draws, throat and nasal swabs, and electrocardiograms among the common duties.
Nebraska medical assistants averaged $34,670 a year, or $16.67 an hour, in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Average salaries were lowest in the Grand Island metropolitan area and the Northeast Nebraska nonmetropolitan area. They were highest in the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area.
Location within the state is not the biggest determinant of salary, however. Credentialing, hiring organization, and years on the job all figure in. AAMA conducted a survey that included primarily professionals with CMA (AAMA) credentialing (https://www.aama-ntl.org/docs/default-source/about-the-profession-and-credential/cb-survey.pdf?sfvrsn=28). Medical assistants in the West North Central part of the nation who had 0-2 years of experience reported an average hourly wage of $16.35. Those in the 3-5 year experience range earned about $1.50 more: $17.78.
The Nebraska Society of Medical Assistants is the state professional association (https://www.nsmaonline.org/). There are five local chapters: Omaha, Lincoln, Hastings, Grand Island, and Great Plains.
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