Ask the CEO: American Association of Medical Assistants

Donald Balasa, executive director, American Association of Medical Assistants, answers questions from AAMA member Chris Hollander.

Hollander: With several different credentials being awarded to medical assistants today, how will you distinguish and promote AAMA's credential?

Balasa: Many associations offer professional/occupational credentials, and often there are competing credentials. An association should emphasize, especially in its marketing and government advocacy initiatives, how its credential is superior to others. It is best to focus on a few obvious points. For example, AAMA's Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential is the only one in our field that requires graduation from an accredited medical-assisting program.

What is the difference between a mandatory credential and a voluntary one, and how does that apply to medical assistants?

A mandatory credential is a legal requirement for an individual to work in a particular occupation or a certain part of an occupation. Mandatory credentials are usually (although not always) licenses. A voluntary credential is not a legal requirement for work and is often (but again, not always) a certification. In most American jurisdictions, medical assistants are not required to have formal medical-assisting education or a credential, such as the CMA (AAMA). An association with a voluntary credential must demonstrate how those who hold it provide superior service.

Do you think partial state licensing for medical assistants is becoming necessary?

Medical assistants are now being delegated duties that are within the scope of practice of licensed professionals. Partial licensing of medical assistants performing these duties is becoming necessary to protect public health and safety.