Arkansas Medical Assistant Requirements and Approved CMA Programs

Making a career decision requires a lot of thought and planning. Healthcare careers in particular can be daunting if you don’t know where to start. Some careers call for a degree which takes time and moneys. Others, like medical assisting, offer rich rewards with minimal education. Medical assisting provides an excellent starting point for entry to healthcare if you want to test the waters before making a major investment.

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Medical assistants have an major role in patient care in hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, and ambulatory settings. They work under the direction of a physician to perform administrative and clinical tasks. Their duties include but are not limited to recording patients’ vitals signs, drawing blood, administering medications, assisting with treatments, prepping patients for treatment, performing basic lab tests, and sterilizing instruments. Some of their administrative duties include updating patient records, scheduling appointments, collecting patients, following up with patients, and coordinating patient care between various health care providers.

Reasons to Become a Medical Assistant

Employment opportunities for medical assistants are expanding as healthcare employers seek their services to streamline their operations and cut costs. Although the majority of medical assistants are employed by physicians in private practices, there has been an upsurge of jobs in clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and laboratories. The diversity of jobs places medical assistants on par with other health care professionals who have a wide selection of places to work. Not that there’s anything wrong with working in a private practice! If you thrive on growing relationships with a steady group of people, working in a physician’s office provides the perfect opportunity to work with patients on a more personal level. In a hospitals, where patients come and go, there is less chance of working with the same group of patients but you’ll get to work on a diversity of medical cases and conditions.

Job Security

Job security should be high on your list of priorities for many reasons. Your paycheck might be your only means of providing for yourself and your family. It puts food on table, pays your rent or mortgage, sends your kids to school, and covers unforeseen expenses. The healthcare sector offers stability and job security for most professionals. There will always be a demand for healthcare workers to provide medical care patients young and old. Health care facilities, even private ones, are extending their hours of operation to meet demand and hiring more workers to fill those extended hours. Medical assistants provide valuable administrative and clinical services that fill a vital need within the sector.

Multiskilled Professionals

Whereas most healthcare professionals are trained to manage specific clinical duties, medical assistants are multitasking heroes. Your medical assistant training will prepare work in both the administrative and clinical side of healthcare. As a medical assistant, you’ll assist physicians by preparing patients for their visit by measuring vital signs, setting up the treatment rooms, taking the patient through guided steps, and assisting with the treatment. Your back-office responsibilities such as processing insurance claims and updating patients’ records also provide vital support. The cross training adds value to the employment and also helps you to find your niche. You might decide to enhance your career by continuing your education on the clinical side of things or prepare for a position in administration.

Diversity in Work Environments

What if you invest all your time and money preparing for a health care position only to discover that you don’t like your work environment? As a medical assistant, you can always apply for a position in a hospital if you don’t like the pace of a physician’s office or vice versa. Of course, with the spotlight on the value of medical assistants, there are numerous other places you can work. From nursing homes to long-term facilities and urgent care centers, you’re bound to find one that fits your dreams.

Room for Growth

Your medical assistant experience and education provide a solid foundation for continuing your healthcare education. Some programs include credits that may be transferred to another healthcare degree – especially coursework completed at an accredited college. Medical assistants typically receive credit when they enroll in vocational nursing and registered nursing programs. It pays to do your research upfront and choose the right program if medical assistant is a pit stop on your way to another career in healthcare.

Make a Positive Impact

Medical assisting is a call to service. You’ll have a rare opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of patients and their families. By offering words of comfort and support, maintaining a cheerful attitude and demonstrating genuine concern throughout the process, you can change lives and impact patient outcomes in a major way. And, by helping others, you’ll feel good about yourself.

Certified Versus Uncertified Medical Assistants

Formal training is not required to practice as a medical assistant in Arkansas. However, since medical assistants’ role and function have expanded beyond the basic round of duties performed in a medical office, formal training and certification is recommended to qualify for the best positions. Even more important is the reality of the inability of healthcare employers to train employees on the job. The fast pace of even medical offices requires the attention of all staff on board. This reduces the time available for the training of new employees. Healthcare employers who recruit medical assistants to support the smooth operation of their facilities prefer trained and certified MAs.
The American Association of Medical Assistants is one of the leading organizations for medical assistant certification. Candidates for certification through the AAMA must complete an accredited medical assistant program and pass a certification exam. The exam evaluates the candidate’s ability to perform both the administrative and clinical duties that medical assistants perform. Employers have a high level of confidence in AAMA certified MAs’ abilities to perform on the job. There are other certifying organizations that certify candidates for general practice and for specialty practice. Some of them are listed below.

Nationally Approved Certifying Organizations

American Association of Medical Assistants
20 N. Wacker Drive, #1575
Chicago, IL 60606-2963
(312) 424-3100

American Medical Certification Association
310 Passaic Avenue, Suite 204B
Fairfield, NJ 07004
(888) 960-2622

American Medical Technologists
10700 W. Higgins Road, Suite 150
Rosemont, IL 60018
(847) 823-5169

Multiskilled Medical Certification Institute, Inc.
P.O. Box 17
7007 College Boulevard
Overland Park, KS 66211
(888) 625-8408 or (913) 754-3287 

How to Become a Medical Assistant in Arkansas

Complete accredited training

A medical assistant’s role in healthcare is ever-expanding as physicians stretch their versatility to the limit. The ability to take on an expanding role is one of many reasons you should consider completing an accredited medical assistant program. Programs that are accredited by one of the two recognized accredited agencies for medical assistants cover all the skills you’ll need for success in field. Additionally, you may have the opportunity to develop specialized skills in an specific area of medicine. More than 85 percent of employers hire medical assistants who are trained and certified because of restrictions from their insurers. Only certified medical assistants may be permitted to administer medications, update patients’ health records, and collect samples. Candidates who are properly trained and nationally certified typically qualify for the best positions.

Duration of the medical assistant program: Healthcare career jobs typically require a degree and years to complete. Medical assisting is one exception. You can earn your medical assistant diploma in a matter of months and be on your way to a rewarding career.

Employer-centered curriculum: A program that includes all the training required for employment is not only short-term but affordable. Review the curriculum to determine if it covers all you need for immediate employment including the administrative and clinical duties you’ll be expected to perform during your first week on the job.

Experienced instructors: An instructor who understands the role of the medical assistant and state regulations that guide their practice is a must. The instructor should also be committed to students’ overall success including success on the national certification exam.

Flexible formats: While full-time enrolment offers the benefit of a faster completion time, it may not be your best option if you work full-time or have other commitments. You can search out part-time programs that offer evening or weekend schedules. Hybrid programs that are self-paced is another option to consider.

Hands-on experience: One of the benefits of vocational programs like medical assisting is the abundance of hands-on practical skills. Practical activities will begin in the school’s labs which are set up like a medical practice. You’ll have the opportunity to work with the same equipment used in healthcare facilities. The externship will give you the opportunity to further develop your skills in a real-world setting.

Financially viable: Your finances should not be an obstacle to starting a new career. Find a medical assistant program that qualifies for federal student aid to help reduce the cost. The program must be one that is accredited to be eligible. Start with a program that is affordable and offers multiple payment options.

Fringe benefits: Some of the best medical assistant jobs are not advertised. Search for schools that partner with employers and offer benefits such as job placement assistance, career preparation, and training for additional certification.

Obtain Medical Assistant Certification

Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)

The Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential is a product of the American Association of Medical Assistants awarded to candidates who complete accredited training, pass the certification exam, and meet all other requirements for certification.

The CMA certification exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions that will test your knowledge of pharmacology, safety and infection control, legal and ethical issues, communication, and much more.

The exam assesses three principal categories:

Clinical Competency (59%)

  • Clinical Workflow: Patient Intake and Discharge
  • Safety and Infection Control
  • Procedures/Examinations
  • Pharmacology

General (21%)

  • Legal and Ethical Issues
  • Communication

Administrative (20%)

  • Billing, Coding, and Insurance
  • Schedule Appointments and Health Information Management

Eligibility Requirements

You can sit for the exam if you meet one of the criteria outlined below:

  1. Must be completing or a recent graduate of a CAAHEP or ABHES accredited medical assistant program. If you’re enrolled in a medical assistant program, you can take the exam no more than 30 days prior to completing the program and practicum. If you’ve graduated from a program, you must take the exam within 12 months of your graduation date.
  2. Must be a nonrecent graduate of a CAAHEP or ABHES accredited medical assistant program. You’re considered a nonrecent graduate, if you apply for the exam more than 12 months after graduation.
  3. Must be a CMA (AAMA) recertificant. Use this option if you previously passed the CMA Certification Exam and want to recertify the CMA credential.

Application Steps

  1. Verify that you are eligible to take the exam
  2. Review the exam policies and information
  3. Gather your documentation for your eligibility category
  4. Determine the start date for 90-day testing period – this will determine when you apply for the exam.
  5. Submit your application, pay the application fee of $125 for AAMA members or $250 nonmembers
  6. Make name, email, and postal address corrections in a timely basis
  7. Schedule your exam appointment after your application and payment are processed
  8. Complete the exam and receive a pass/fail notification
  9. Watch for your official score reports – within three weeks after your exam
  10. Watch for your certificate or digital badge via email

Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)

The American Medical Technologists (AMT) awards the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credential to persons who meet the eligibility criteria and pass the RMA exam. The RMA credential is also accepted by healthcare employers across the nation. RMAs have the abilities, knowledge, and commitment to quality care.

Following are some other requirements for RMA certification:

Through formal education-

  • Must have graduated, within the past 4 years, or scheduled to graduate from an accredited MA program or program that is housed within an accredited institution.
  • Must have completed 720 hours of instruction that includes at least 160 hours of externship

Other training –

  • Must have completed a medical assisting work-study/training program within the last 4 years such as:
    • An apprenticeship program registered with the US Department of Labor (DOL)
    • A federally recognized State Apprenticeship Agency (SAA)
    • Workforce Development/Employer program

Work Experience

  • Must be employed as a medical assistant for a minimum of 3 years within the past 7 years – 3 years of full-time employment at 36 hours per week is the equivalent of 5,616 hours. Provide documents of both administrative and clinical duties on the employment letter
  • Experience must include both clinical and administrative duties
  • Must have a valid CPR card (copy of front and back). CPR training must include both theoretical and in-person demonstration of CPR proficiency.


  • Must be recent graduate, or scheduled to graduate from a formal medical services training program of the United States Armed Forces – Must have graduated within the last 4 years.


  • Must have worked as a medical assistant educator for a minimum of five years, and have previously completed a course in a healthcare related discipline.

The application fee for the RMA exam is $135. You must schedule your exam online after you receive approval from the RMA.

The official certification will be supplied within 7 to 14 days after you pass the exam.

Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)

The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) is another nationally recognized certifying organization for medical assistants. Candidates who successfully meet all the requirements will receive the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) credential. Candidates for certification may fulfill the requirements for certification via work experience or practical training.

To take the CCMA credentialing exam, you must:

  • Possess a high school diploma/GED equivalent AND
  • Have completed a medical assistant training program (within the last 5 years) OR
  • Have one year of supervised medical assisting experience, in the last 3 years

The exam is administered either at your school, a PSI testing center near you, or through live remote proctoring at the location of your choice.

For online CCMA exams, NHA will officially post your certification results to your account page within two days of scoring your test.

Arkansas Medical Assistants FAQs

Are medical assistants required to be licensed or certified by the State of Arkansas?

Medical assistants are not required to be licensed or certified by the State of Arkansas.

What duties are medical assistants allowed to perform?

Medical assistants may perform a wide range of duties as directed by a physicians. A physician or nurse must be onsite while the medical assistant performs the delegated tasks. According to the Arkansas Society of Medical Assistants, MAs may perform the following tasks:

  • Conduct routine clinical and administrative duties
  • Update patients’ medical records
  • Oversee admission to patients
  • Perform basic lab services
  • Collect payments
  • Greet patients
  • Explain procedures and treatments to patients
  • Collect and prepare laboratory specimens
  • Communicate with other healthcare providers on patients’ behalf
  • Sterilize instruments
  • Prepare and administer medications
  • Authorize drug refills and telephone prescriptions to a pharmacy
  • Draw blood
  • Prep patients for x-rays
  • Remove sutures and change dressings
  • Take electocardiograms

Contact the Arkansas Society of Medical Assistants

1700 West C Street, Suite 123

Russelville, AR 72801

Melinda Rhynes, M. ED., CMA (AAMA)

479-264-7243 (cell)

CAAHEP & ABHES Accredited Medical Assisting Programs Arkansas

Batesville, AR Medical Assistant Programs:
University of Arkansas Community College Batesville
White Drive,
Batesville, AR 72501

Bentonville, AR Medical Assistant Programs:
University of Arkansas
704 SE 5th Street
Bentonville, AR 72712

Blytheville, AR Medical Assistant Programs:
Arkansas Northeastern College
2501 South Division Street
Blytheville, Arkansas 72315

Fayetteville, AR Medical Assistant Programs:
Blue Cliff College
3448 N College Ave,
Fayetteville, AR 72703

Harrison, AR Medical Assistant Programs:
North Arkansas College
1515 Pioneer Dr
Harrison, AR 72601

Jonesboro, AR Medical Assistant Programs:
Arkansas State University
2105 Aggie Rd
Jonesboro, AR 72401

Ozark, AR Medical Assistant Programs:
Arkansas Tech University
1700 Helberg Lane
Ozark, AR 72949
(479) 667-2117

Springdale, AR Medical Assistant Programs:
Petra Allied Health
3889 Willowood Ave.
Springdale, AR 72762
(800) 785-9876

West Memphis, AR Medical Assistant Programs:
ASU Mid-South
2000 West Broadway
West Memphis, AR 72301