Virginia Medical Assistant Guide

Career Description

The role of medical assistants in Virginia has been defined by the state’s government.  The official job description for medical assistants reads: “[Medical assistants] perform administrative and certain clinical duties under the direction of physician.”  The description goes on to identify the roles a medical assistant can assume.

Administrative Roles Identified:

  • scheduling appointments
  • billing
  • maintaining medical records
  • coding for insurance purposes

Clinical Roles Identified:

  • recording vital signs
  • recording medical histories
  • preparing patients for examination
  • drawing blood
  • administering medications under a physicians direction

Certified Medical Assistants in Virginia

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Virginia does not require certification from medical assistants.  However, they might have to demonstrate competency in a specific task, by passing a test, before performing some procedures.  Certification helps medical assistants assume greater responsibilities without worrying as much about these tests.  Medical assistants who want to pursue certification for work in Virginia can consider:

  • The American Medical Technologists (AMT): Registered Medical Assistant (RMT)
  • The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA): Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)

Below is the five-step procedure to become certified with the AAMA.  The AMT follows a similar path.

Step One:  Training

CMA schools are located throughout Virginia, but not all of them satisfy the AAMA’s requirements.  Students hoping to be certified by the AAMA should only consider CAAHEP-accredited programs.  Although all of these meet the AAMA’s standards, they do not have a uniform length or standard tuition.

After a semester of work, students are welcome to apply for the Maxine Williams Scholarship.  This is awarded every spring to a worth CMA student in the U.S.  It comes with a $1,000 prize and membership to the AAMA.

Step Two:  Applying

Students cannot take the CMA exam until they have completed their coursework and their application has been approved.  After sending in this application, students should receive an update within a month.  The final approval comes 20 days after an application is completely processed.

The AAMA sends its approval notices by email.  Applicants should be sure to save these emails, as they contain the test permit.  Without the permit, an applicant cannot take the test.

Step Three:  Scheduling

After being approved, applicants have three months to schedule the CMA test.  They can take it anytime during this period, at any location that proctors the AAMA’s certification exam in Virginia.

Step Four:  Studying

Students who need help studying should ask either their instructors or local chapter (more on this below) for help and practice exams.

Step Five: Certification

Those who pass the test are certified.  People who do not pass can take it again, and should study more for it the second time.  All newly certified medical assistants will be added to the CMA Status Page.

Virginia CMAs: Employment

United States

Employment

Percent
Change

Job Openings 1

2010

2020

Medical Assistants

527,600

690,400

+31%

24,380

Virginia

Employment

Percent
Change

Job Openings 1

2008

2018

Medical Assistants

9,760

13,130

+35%

450

1Job Openings refers to the average annual job openings due to growth and net replacement.

(CareerInfoNet.org)

For people just graduating from high school, as well as those seeking a second, third or fourth career, the medical assistant profession is promising.  By 2018, there will be more than 13,000 CMAs gainfully employed in Virginia, and about 450 positions will open up each year until then.  Few CMAs struggle to land an interview, because they are in such high demand.

Virginia CMAs: Salaries

Location Pay
Period

2011

10%

25%

Median

75%

90%

United States Hourly

$10.04

$11.86

$13.99

$16.87

$19.62

Yearly

$20,900

$24,700

$29,100

$35,100

$40,800

Virginia Hourly

$10.16

$11.94

$14.10

$16.98

$19.88

Yearly

$21,100

$24,800

$29,300

$35,300

$41,400

(CareerInfoNet.org)

Virginia’s medical assistant salaries are on par with national CMA salary trends.  Most CMAs working in Virginia earn between $25,000 and $35,000 annually.  This could be increased with overtime, if money is tight.

A look at what CMAs earned on average in various cities during 2011 is also promising (from the BLS).

  • Richmond, VA: $29,990 (yr.) / $14.42 (hr.)
  • Harrisonburg, VA: $27,580 / $13.26
  • Charlottesville, VA: $34,580 / $16.62
  • Virginia Beach, VA: $27,250 / $13.10

Transfers / Recertifications

Both transferring and certification are easy with the AAMA.  To change what state one is certified in, CMAs should talk to their local chapter.  They will be able to help during the transfer process.  Recertification, which must be done every five years, is handled by the AAMA online.  More information about recertification can be found here.

Local AAMA Chapters in Virginia

  • Old Dominion
  • Peninsula
  • Southwest
  • Virginia Beach

The Virginia Society of Medical Assistants’ website and FaceBook group both have helpful information.

Sources: