Scope of Practice of the Medical Assisting Profession


Medical Assisting is an allied health profession whose practitioners function as members of the health care delivery team and perform administrative and clinical procedures.

The designation Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) indicates that the individual is a graduate of a CAAHEP accredited medical assisting program, has passed the Certification Examination of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and maintains a current CMA credential.

CAAHEP stands for Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.


A graduate of a CAAHEP accredited medical assisting program with a current CMA credential.

(The foregoing shall not preclude those CMAs who acquired the credential prior to February 1, 1998, and maintain currency of the CMA credential.)


Certified Medical Assistants perform delegated clinical and administrative duties within the supervising physician's scope of practice consistent with the CMA's education, training and experience. Such duties shall not constitute the practice of medicine.


Physician supervision shall be active and continuous but shall not be construed as necessarily requiring the physical presence of the supervising physician at the time and place that services are rendered.

Certificate presented to the state chapter at the 2002 Oregon Convention

Medical Assisting: The Versatile Profession

(This document was approved by the AAMA Board of Trustees at its March 9 - 12, 2000 meeting.)

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What is a Medical Assistant?

The Medical Assistant is an ancillary worker performing a variety of duties in many health care environments. The Medical Assistant is a multi-skilled health care practitioner performing clinical and administrative functions. The qualified Medical Assistant has the unique privilege of acting as a liaison between the physician and/or other health care workers and their patients. The opportunity afforded the Medical Assistant in this regard is one of great importance and responsibility.

There are several schools offering formal programs in the state of Massachusetts. A list of these institutions may be found on our programs page.

The Medical Assistant occupation is projected to have one of the fastest growth rates in the medical field over the next decade.





Donald A. Balasa, JD, MBA
Executive Director, Legal Counsel
American Association of Medical Assistants

Even before the American Association of Medical Assistants adjusted the eligibility requirements for the Certification Examination to better meet the human resource needs of the current health care environment, more employers of allied health personnel were preferring or even insisting that their medical assistants have the AAMA's Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential. Understanding why employers are aggressively recruiting CMAs is of the utmost importance for medical assisting educators as well as all medical assistants. The purpose of the article is to attempt to explain why Certification is becoming so important for the medical assistant's entry into and advancement within the allied health workforce.

First of all, the United States continues to be one of the most litigious nations in the civilized world. Disputes that used to be settled by discussion and mediation are now being referred to attorneys and ending up in courts of law. Lawsuit mania is particularly acute in the world of health care. Patients have come to view the health care providers as guarantors of a positive outcome, and any less-than-optimal result often leads to litigation.

Because of this unfortunate state of affairs, health care providers have had to fortify themselves against malpractice suits and other legal perils. Employers of allied health professionals have correctly concluded that having credentialed personnel on staff will lessen the likelihood of a successful legal challenge to the quality of work of an employee. Thus, in the realm of medical assisting, the CMA credential has become a means of protecting against potential plaintiffs who might seize upon the fact that the employer (whether a physician, a physician's corporation, a group practice, or a clinic) is utilizing unlicensed allied health personnel. (Medical Assistants currently are not licensed in any state, although some states require limited permits in radiography, invasive procedures, and other limited areas of practice.)

Another phenomenon dominating the American health care scene is managed care. The cost limitations imposed by managed care organizations (MCOs) are causing mergers and buyouts throughout the nation. Small physician practices are being consolidated or merged into larger providers of health care, and the resulting economies of scale are -supposedly- making the delivery of health care more cost-effective. Human resource directors of MCOs place great faith in professional credentials for their employees (including physicians), and therefore are more likely to establish Certification as a mandatory professional designation for medical assistants. All indications are that the managed care revolution has not run its course; consequently, the requiring of CMA credential by employers is likely to accelerate.

In addition to these factors, state and federal laws -- especially certain provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and the Clinical Laboratory Improvements Act (CLIA) are making mandatory credentialing for medical assistants a logical next step in the hiring process. Although OSHA and CLIA do not per se require regulations which can be met by demonstrating that the medical assistants in the clinical setting are certified. Furthermore, private sector bodies such as the Joint Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) often look favorably upon (although not mandating) professional credentials as the CMA to verify competence of medical assistants.

All in all, the AAMA's Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential is assuming increasing importance in the eyes of all types of employers if medical assistants. By offering the CMA designation to worthy medical assisting candidates, the American Association of Medical Assistants is providing a valuable service to the medical assisting profession, employers of medical assistants, and the American public. Indeed, the Certified Medical Assistant is becoming the allied health professional of choice for this decade and the next century!


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