In the U.S., medical assistants are in demand largely because of the aging population. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics(BLS) estimates an employment increase of 16 percent between 2021 and 2031, which is more than the national average of seven percent for all jobs. The number of medical assistant jobs in Tennessee in the next several years is expected to exceed the national average.[Leer en español]
How to Become a Medical Assistant in Tennessee
A medical assistant’s duties involve direct patient support, tracking, coordination, scheduling, and follow-up. They may, for example, help doctors prepare for examinations, use specialized computer programs for patient care and tracking, manage insurance processing, change dressings, take blood samples, update patient records, and interview and inform patients. Larger practices, hospitals, and other specialized clinics sometimes require medical assistants to have specific training, for instance, to work in a lab drawing blood or operate specialized machines.
Requirements for Becoming a Medical Assistant in Tennessee
Medical assistants in Tennessee do not require certification, but most employers look for professionals with at least a diploma or certificate from a recognized and accredited institution. To stay competitive, it’s recommended that medical assistants get certified by a recognized body, as well as join professional associations after their education is completed.
Medical Assistant Classes and Educational Programs in Tennessee
When it comes to medical assistant training in Tennessee, individuals have more than 20 institutions to choose from and many are located in urban centers.
Here are a few examples of schools that offer ABHES- or CAAHEP-accredited medical assistant diploma programs.
The Fortis Institute
The Fortis Institute medical assisting program is offered out of Nashville. This diploma program can be completed in less than two years and offers externships.
Chattanooga State Community College
Chattanooga State Community College offers a medical assistant program diploma. The program offers training via flexible scheduling and has a high job placement rate. Graduates of the initial diploma (1,290 hours) may use those credits toward an associate’s degree in applied technology.
Miller-Motte Technical College’s
Miller-Motte Technical College’s medical assisting program is offered via campuses in Chattanooga. This 72-week diploma also includes an externship.
Certification for Becoming a Medical Assistant
Medical assistant job training and employment are readily available in the state of Tennessee, which meets national standards and the same standards as those of most states for certification.
Typically, a medical assistant would undergo a general degree or diploma program, and then complete an exam to qualify for Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) or Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) status.
They would also get some experience in the field during their regular educational training (as a practicum). In some cases, work experience may be satisfactory to fulfill the prerequisite for certification exams.
To take the CMA exam, one must be a recent graduate or almost finished from a Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools(ABHES) accredited program.
Each type of license requires regular updating. For more information about becoming a registered medical assistant in Tennessee and about ongoing training and certification updates, contact the Tennessee Society Of Medical Assistants.
Certified Medical Assistants (CMAs) in Tennessee
The state of Tennessee has a large number of rural areas, which often have difficulty attracting medical personnel. This is where CMAs can play an important role in providing quality healthcare.
To become a CMA in Tennessee, one must complete an accredited medical assistant program and pass the Certified Medical Assistant Exam (CMAE) administered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).
The CMAE is a computer-based test that consists of 200 multiple-choice questions. The test covers a wide range of topics related to medical assisting, including:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Medical terminology
- Clinical procedures
- Medical law and ethics
- Patient relations
- First aid
- Infection control
The CMAE is offered year-round at testing centers around the country. To register for the exam, candidates must create an account on the AAMA website and apply.
The AAMA also offers a practice exam to help candidates prepare for the CMAE. The practice exam covers the same topics as the actual exam but is not an official part of the CMA certification process.
Once a candidate has passed the CMAE, they will receive a certificate from the AAMA. The certificate is valid for 60 months (5 years).
To maintain active status, CMAs must complete 60 continuing education credits (CECs) every 5 years. CMAs can earn CECs by attending conferences, taking classes, or completing other activities approved by the AAMA.
The AAMA also offers a recertification exam for CMAs who let their certification lapse. The recertification exam is the same as the CMAE but is only offered every other year.
The AAMA offers several resources to help CMAs stay up-to-date on the latest news and developments in the medical assistant field. These resources include a monthly newsletter, an online community, and a variety of online courses.
Registered Medical Assistants (RMAs) in Tennessee
The RMA credential is granted by the American Medical Technologists (AMT) to those who have completed an accredited medical assistant program and have passed a national exam administered by the organization. To use the RMA credential, one must adhere to AMT’s Code of Ethics.
Recertification is required every three years and RMAs must report continuing education credits (CECs) to AMT every year.
Licensed Medical Assistant (LMA) in Tennessee
Licensed medical assistants (LMAs) are those who have met the requirements to practice as medical assistants set forth by the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners (BME).
The requirements to become an LMA in Tennessee include:
• Completing a medical assistant program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES), OR
• Graduating from an accredited medical assistant program and passing an exam administered by the Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), OR
• Graduating from an accredited medical assistant program and passing an exam administered by the American Medical Technologists (AMT)
To be eligible for licensure, an applicant must:
• Be at least 18 years of age
• Have completed high school or its equivalent
• Submit an application and fee to the BME
• Have fingerprints taken for a criminal background check
Once licensed, medical assistants must renew their licenses every two years. There are no continuing education requirements for LMAs in Tennessee.
Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) in Tennessee
The Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) credential is granted by the National Healthcare Association (NHA) and denotes that an individual has completed a medical assistant program and has passed a national exam administered by the NHA. To use the CCMA credential, one must adhere to the NHA’s Code of Ethics.
Recertification is required every 60 months and CCMAs must report continuing education credits (CECs) on the NHA website every 60 months.
National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) in Tennessee
The NCMA credential is granted by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) and denotes that an individual has completed a medical assistant program and has passed a national exam administered by the NCCT. To use the NCMA credential, one must adhere to the NCCT’s Code of Ethics.
Recertification is required every 24 months and NCMAs must report continuing education credits (CECs) on the NCCT website every three years.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations for Medical Assistants in Tennessee
Medical assistant jobs are plentiful in Tennessee, and this trend is expected to continue, with 2,310 annual job openings expected on average. As of 2020, there were more than 15,540 medical assistants employed in the state of Tennessee, and that number is expected to grow 21 percent to 18,800 by 2030. This percent growth change is one of the best in the country and is even slightly higher than the national average.
Medical assistant salary levels in Tennessee are some of the highest in the country, with professionals earning $17.44 per hour or $36,280 per year on average.
Working as a Medical Assistant in Tennessee
Medical assistants are responsible for a variety of tasks in all healthcare settings. They typically work under the direct supervision of licensed medical practitioners such as doctors and nurses, but may also be responsible for administrative duties and as such would be working under administrative supervisors.
Medical assistants have high-pressure, high responsibility, and a high variety of jobs, which require a patient, diplomatic and empathetic disposition. Medical assistants must also be clear and accurate communicators on every level and understand how to use medical technology.
There are many advantages to having medical assistant training. Not only is it an extremely versatile profession, but certified medical assistants can also take their skills to any state. This career may open up to more specialized training of specific interest, such as optometry or podiatry, with further education.
Tennessee has an extremely high demand for this field. Many jobs in clinics, hospitals, physician’s offices, care homes, and other medical and support settings will be available well into the future.
Popular Medical Assistant Schools in Tennessee
How much do medical assistants earn in the state of Tennessee?
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical assistants in the state of Tennessee made an average of $36,280 per year in 2021. Entry-level medical assistants earned around $28,640 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $45,840.