How to Become a Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)

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In contrast to other three certifications, RMA credential is the most flexible because it certifies both recent MA program graduates as well as MAs who’ve been working professionally in the field. The RMA examination is very similar to the CMA examination given by the AAMA, and both certifications are equally acceptable.

1. Find out if you are eligible for examination

Graduates of accredited MA programs are eligible to sit for the RMA certification. The two agencies whose accreditation carries the most weight are:

  • CAAHEP is the largest accrediting organization in the health sciences field.
  • ABHES is the only agency permitted by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit health care training both at the institutional and programmatic level.

RMA certification is also open to candidates who have not graduated from a training program:

  • If candidates have graduated from a medical services training program through the United States Military within the past four years.
  • If candidates have graduated from a program associated with a school that has regional or national accreditation approved by the U.S. Department of Education. Such programs will have provided at least 720 clock hours of training, including 160 clock hours of clinical externship.
  • If candidates have worked professionally as medical assistants for five out of the last seven years. These candidates will need to show proof of high school graduation or a GED.
  • If candidates have successfully passed a certification exam given by another certification agency, like the AAMA.

Candidates must be of good moral character before they will be allowed to sit for the exam. Under many circumstances, a previous felony conviction will disqualify you. AMT has review procedures in place to assess felony convictions on an individual basis.

2. Apply for the RMA Exam

Download and fill out the application form carefully, and provide all the supporting documentation the form requests. If you are a recent graduate of an MA training program, the application should be fairly straightforward. You will need to provide:

  • Proof of high school graduation, or GED equivalent
  • Final transcript from the MA training program you attended

If your eligibility falls under one of the special exceptions noted in the first step, additional documentation will be required. Please read the documentation requirements carefully. If you’ve ever been convicted of a felony, you will also need to include the felony checklist, which is a separate download on the application page.

The application fee is $95, or $70 if you’re applying to retake the exam. Check with your MA training program before you write the check. Some schools cover the cost of certification in the fees you’ve already paid. You can pay the fee with a check, or by using your Visa, MasterCard or American Express account. The application fee is not refundable.

It’s always prudent to keep a copy of the application you send in for your own records.

Mail the completed application to:

American Medical Technologists
10700 W. Higgins Road, Suite 150
Rosemont, Illinois 60018

It will generally take between four and six weeks for your exam application to be processed.

3. Schedule an exam appointment

Once the AMT has approved your exam application, you will receive an Authorization to Test confirmation letter. This letter will contain all the information you need to contact the test administrators and schedule an exam appointment. The letter will also contain a toll free number to call in case you have additional questions.

AMT does not conduct its own examinations. Instead, AMT contracts with a well-known educational exam provider called Pearson Vue.

Pearson Vue has over 200 test locations in the U.S., Canada and other places around the world. For a full list of locations where the exam is given, see the Pearson Vue website. Hours vary among individual testing centers, but testing is available every day of the week except Sundays and holidays.

You will be required to provide two forms of identification for admittance into the test. At least one must be a photo ID and both must include your signature. Acceptable forms of identification include passports, drivers’ licenses, state-issued identification cards and military ID cards.

You can change the time and location of your exam online up to 24 hours before you’re scheduled to take it:

4. Prepare for the exam

The questions on the RMA certification exam are divided into three broad areas, scored as follows:

Content area Est. percentage of total test
I. General Medical Assisting Knowledge

  1. Anatomy and physiology
  2. Medical terminology
  3. Medical law
  4. Medical ethics
  5. Human relations
  6. Patient education
II. Administrative Medical Assisting

  1. Insurance
  2. Finance and bookkeeping
  3. Medical receptionist / secretarial / clerical
III. Clinical Medical Assisting

  1. Asepsis
  2. Sterilization
  3. Instruments
  4. Vital signs and mensurations
  5. Physical examinations
  6. Clinical pharmacology
  7. Minor surgery
  8. Therapeutic modalities
  9. Laboratory procedures
  10. Electrocardiography (ECG)
  11. First aid and emergency response

Take our RMA practice test, to get a better idea where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Check around in your area for exam review courses if you think you need one. Your MA training program can provide you with information about which courses are the most useful. Check out the AMT website for more information.

5. Taking the Exam

You’ll have two options for taking the RMA exam. You can either take the exam as a CBT (Computer Based Testing) module or you can take it in paper and pencil form.

CBT Testing

You will be allotted two hours in which to complete the computerized RMA exam. Although computerized tests are identical in format to pen and pencil tests, most students find the CBT far less time to complete.

The exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions, each of which has four options with one correct answer. The questions aren’t arranged in any particular orde. Some questions may require you to explain what you are looking at in an illustration, while others may ask you to interpret information presented as part of a case study. Some questions will require the simple recollection of a fact, while others will require analysis.

One advantage to the computerized RMA test is that you can find out almost immediately whether or not you passed.

If you pass and have completed your certification application, a hard copy of your test results will be provided to you before you leave the testing center. If you pass but your certification application is still being processed, the results letter will be provided at a later date.

Paper and Pencil Testing

Candidates who elect to take the paper and pencil version of the test will have three hours in which to complete it. The exam proctor will provide you with a test booklet and an answer sheet. You will not need a calculator or scratch paper. Your examination results will be forwarded to you within six to eight weeks.

Retaking the RMA certification exam

If you didn’t pass the exam, don’t despair. You’re allowed to retake the exam up to three additional times, although you’ll have to wait at least 90 days between retests. You will have to submit a retesting request and a retesting application fee of $70.

If you do not pass the exam on your fourth attempt, you will not be eligible for the RMA credential.

6. Maintain your credential

Regardless of whether you elect to take the CBT module or the paper and pencil test, if you pass the test successfully you will receive your official Registered Medical Assistant certification, as well as your membership in the AMT, in the mail within a few weeks.

In order to maintain your RMA credential, you must pay an annual $50 renewal fee and take continuing education credits in compliance with the Certification Continuation Program (CCP). You’ll be required to attest to complying with these requirements in a written communication every three years.