Becoming a Medical Assistant in New Mexico: Educational Programs and Certification

New Mexico employs more than its share of medical assistants, and they’re helping people access quality healthcare in outpatient settings around the state. Medical assistants are trained to carry out routine clinical and administrative duties. Those who work in smaller offices may do a little bit of many things.

New Mexico state code lays out medical assistant scope of practice in general terms. Physicians can delegate to a “properly trained” medical assistant things that a “reasonable and prudent physician” would judge appropriate to delegate.

The following are among the tasks noted by employers in recent New Mexico job postings: greeting patients, taking vitals, preparing patients for examination, entering orders in patient medical records. assisting the provider with medical procedures, applying splints and bandages, sterilizing equipment, performing venipuncture, giving injections, performing EKGs, scheduling surgical appointments, making sure that specimens are sent to the correct lab, and inventorying supplies.

There are different pathways nationwide to being “properly trained”. Some individuals do still learn on the job. Those who have had years of experience can have that experience validated through examination and certification. Employers, however, often require formal education in medical assisting. Programs typically take about a year; students can opt for more comprehensive education and a second year of study.

Accredited education and third party certification are a career boon. So are other skills, such as language proficiency. A number of New Mexico employers are looking for bilingual Spanish/ English MAs. Other languages, like Navajo, may be valued as well.

Most Popular Medical Assistant Programs in New Mexico

Eastern New Mexico University offers a CAAHEP-accredited Certificate of Occupational Training in medical assisting. The program is 41.5 credits. Students can continue on for an Associate of Science; this requires an additional 27 credits. AAS students take some additional health-related coursework like Health and Nutrition, Pathophysiology for Allied Health, and Complementary and Alternative Therapies. In 2016, the school boasted an 83% placement rate and 84% examination pass rate.

Santa Fe Community College, also CAAHEP-accredited, offers students the choice of a certificate or Associate of Applied Science. Also available is a phlebotomy certificate. For the 2016 cohort, the reported job placement rate is 71%, the retention rate is 74%, and the exam passage rate is 89%.

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New Mexico Employer Certification Standards

Employers often ask for third party certification. This may come from any of multiple credible organizations, but some organizations do specify particular certifications. The term ‘Certified Medical Assistant’ or ‘CMA’ is frequently noted in postings. Some people use the term in a general sense. Sometimes, though, they are referring specifically to the CMA certification awarded by the American Association of Medical Assistants. One employer, the National Sinus Institute, made this very clear in a recent New Mexico job posting; the hire was to be a Certified Medical Assistant (AAMA).

AAMA eligibility is extended only to individuals with formal medical assisting education that meets organizational standards. Traditionally this has meant a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs or the Accrediting Bureau for Health Education Schools. Under a pilot program, some individuals from programs without CAAHEP or ABHES accreditation will be made eligible. Standards remain rigorous.

Some employing organizations will accept quite a few certifications. One major New Mexico Health System recently listed the following options, noting the list may not be exhaustive:

• Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) through the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)
• Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) through the American Medical Technologists (AMT)
• Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) through the National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
• National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) through the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)

In some cases, a crucial issue is that the medical assistant be considered “credentialed” for the purposes of meeting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) standards regarding electronic healthcare records. A person can be credentialed specifically in entering medical orders in patient EMRs. However, medical assistant certifications are typically based on meeting a broad range of competencies.

Most certification organizations have an experience pathway for medical assistant examination eligibility. However, the employer may set higher standards.

Top New Mexico Employers

Medical assistants are commonly employed by health and hospital systems, private practitioners, community healthcare organizations, and urgent care centers. The following are among the New Mexico organizations and facilities:

• Presbyterian Medical Services
• Lovelace Regional Hospital
• Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center
• Mountainview Physician Services
• University of New Mexico Medical Group
• Memorial Medical Center
• UNM Hospitals
• Roswell Clinic Corporation
• Christus Health
• First Choice Community Healthcare
• Concentra
• Duke City Urgent Care
• UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center

Salary and Career Outlook

New Mexico medical assistant earned a mean S30,750 in 2018; the Bureau of Labor Statistics figured this based on an hourly rate of $14.79. The 10th percentile full-time annual wage was $22,560; the 90th percentile wage, $39,880.

New Mexico had the highest job concentration in the nation with a location quotient of 1.58. Albuquerque and Las Cruces had the highest location quotients within the state. Santa Fe, the third highest, had a location quotient just below that of the state as a whole, still well above the national norm. The New Mexico medical assistant occupation has been projected to experience 22% growth between 2016 and 2026.

Related Content:

CNA Programs in New Mexico

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How to Become an LPN in New Mexico

RN Programs in New Mexico

How to Become an RN in New Mexico

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