New York Medical Assistant Requirements and Approved CMA Programs


The New York State Education Department defines medical assistants as “unlicensed individuals who play an integral role on the healthcare team in both hospital and ambulatory settings. They perform administrative and clinical tasks to assist in the safe and effective office operations of doctors, hospitals, clinics, and other health care providers.” Since the profession is not licensed or otherwise recognized in New York State, the duties performed vary from one healthcare facility to another and are based on the discretion of the supervising physician, but must be within the list of allowable duties for unlicensed professionals. Practicing medical assistants in New York cannot perform the full scope of practice as outlined by the AAMA due to current legislation.

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In general, medical assistants perform administrative tasks such as collecting information and updating patient records, updating insurance details, completing hospital admissions forms, scheduling lab services, and scheduling appointments. Clinical duties include obtaining medical histories, collecting laboratory specimens, measuring and recording vital signs, administering electrocardiograms, and preparing patients for physical examinations.

The New York Society of Medical Assistants, an affiliate of the American Association of Medical Assistants, provides support to medical assistants to help them enhance and demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and professionalism required by employers, protect their rights to practice, and promote effective and efficient healthcare delivery.

Benefits of Becoming a Medical Assistant

Medical assistants work under the direct supervision of physicians, supplying valuable clinical and administrative support to improve healthcare delivery. There is a constant demand for medical assistants, especially certified medical assistants, throughout the United States in light of the growing trend of outpatient care. The availability of jobs and high possibility of job placement after completing training and certification may be the main benefit of becoming a medical assistant.

Like other careers in allied health, you can prepare for a key role on the healthcare team in a few short months. It’s a profession that doesn’t call for a degree or years of study. Medical assistant certificate programs pack a lot of information into a 4 to 12 months of learning based on the schedule you choose.

Medical assisting is a springboard to other healthcare careers if that is your goal. While the profession can offer opportunities to expand, you also have the option to continue your healthcare education and move to other areas of the industry. Other short-term training programs such as surgical technicians, certified nursing assistants, home health aide, public health inspector, phlebotomy technicians, and EKG technicians are some ways to explore other aspects of the industry. Alternatively, you can enroll in a long-term program, such as nursing, to take a more active role in patient care.

Certified Versus Uncertified Medical Assistants

Since the medical assistant profession in New York is not licensed or recognized by the state, certification through a national organization will not grant any special privileges to perform extra tasks. The credential does appeal to employers who require it to establish that employees are knowledgeable and skilled to perform assigned duties. A part of the reason for employers’ confidence in the CMA credential is due to the AAMA’s requirement that candidates demonstrate competency in both clinical and administrative skills in ambulatory care settings – physicians’ offices.

If you’re starting out in the profession, determine to get the best out of it and be the best you can be. Certification guarantees you’ll get the compensation you deserve. According to the AAMA, certified medical assistants earn substantially more than non-certified medical assistants due to their expanded capabilities and training.

The preparation required for certification – completion of an accredited program- provides a firm foundation for the career. For instance, the AAMA only certifies candidates who have completed a postsecondary medical assisting program accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). These accrediting organizations adhere to strict policies for medical assistant education including theory and practical instruction in clerical and administrative duties. Graduates of these accredited programs are well-prepared to assist physicians in various healthcare settings.

Certification demonstrates your commitment to the profession to prospective employers, coworkers, patients, and other health care professionals. The standard is not limited to the initial certification. Certified medical assistants must keep their credential current by recertifying every five years through continuing education or retesting. They must earn 60 CEUs every 5 years. If your certification expires, you are not permitted to use the CMA credential for any purpose.

Recognized Medical Assistant 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 New York

Complete accredited training

A medical assisting program will help you to prepare to work safely under the supervision of licensed healthcare providers. Theory and practical instruction will cover administrative practices and procedures, laboratory and diagnostic procedures, principles of pharmacology, standards, laws and regulations, infection control, medical terminology and patient communication, and first aid/CPR. An accredited program will also include extensive preparation for certification.

The clinical component is a critical part of the program that facilitates the application of the concepts learned in the classroom. This portion of the program will only commence after you receive thorough instruction in the foundational principles of clinical practice and demonstrate the related skills in a supervised environment. The clinical rotations may exceed 110 hours in a work setting and will be closely supervised by a physician, experience instructor, and certified medical assistant.

Some things to look for in a medical assistant program include:

Duration of the medical assistant program: The program’s schedule will determine the duration. Medical assistant programs fall in the allied health category and should be a short-term but comprehensive preparation for the role of the medical assistant. Programs typically run for 4 to 6 months but could be as lengthy as 12 months for part-time options.

Employer-centered curriculum: Training should provide all the tools you need to take up employment as a medical assistant. Physicians, who are direct supervisors, want to know that you are capable of performing your assigned duties, and the program should help you to meet expectations.

Experienced instructors: Faculty should be up to speed with state regulations as pertains to the duties that medical assistants may perform and industry trends to keep the training current.

Flexible formats: Hybrid programs provide a convenient way to complete the educational requirements while maintaining current commitments. They include online training for the theoretical concepts and onsite instruction for the practical requirements.

Hands-on experience: Practical experience is not only valuable for the development of critical skills but also for putting theoretical concepts into perspective. Accredited programs must include this hands-on component.

Financially viable: A key feature of short-term health care programs is their affordability as compared to more expensive healthcare degree programs. Flexible payment plans, scholarship opportunities, and discounts are some ways to decrease costs.

Fringe benefits: Job placement assistance, networking opportunities, resume preparation, and exam preparation are some benefits you might expect.

Obtain Medical Assistant Certification

The CMA Certification Exam administered by the American Associate of Medical Assistants comprises of 200 multiple-choice questions. Out of the 200 questions, 180 will be scored and 20 will be pretested. 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 must meet on the following eligibility categories:

  1. Must be a recent graduate of a CAAHEP or ABHES accredited medical assistant program. Graduates have up to 12 months after graduation to take the exam. Current students may also apply to take the exam no more than 30 days prior to completing a formal program and practicum.  and a recent graduate must apply to take the exam within 12 months of graduation.

  2. Must have graduated from a CAAHEP or ABHES accredited medical assistant program and classified as a nonrecent graduate. A candidate who applies for the exam more than 12 months after graduation is a nonrecent graduate.
  • Must have previously passed the CMA Certification Exam and applying 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 start fate 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

New York Medical Assistants FAQs

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

“Medical Assistant” is not a title that is licensed or otherwise recognized in New York State, so there’s no requirement for certification the state level. If you decide to pursue certification as a Certified Medical Assistant, you can present your credential to employers to improve your job opportunities and pay. However, the employer cannot assign additional privileges that fall outside the scope of practice for unlicensed professionals. Supervising physicians have a duty to identify unlicensed persons and their role to patients.

What duties are medical assistants allowed to perform?

You may perform the duties of an unlicensed professional in your capacity as a medical assistant after obtaining the appropriate training. It is the supervising physician’s responsibility to determine that you can capably perform the tasks assigned. According to New York State code, unlicensed persons may perform tasks that include the following:

  • Secretarial work such as assembling charts or assisting with billing
  • Measuring vital signs
  • Performing ECGs
  • Assisting an authorized practitioner, under the direct and personal supervision of said practitioner, to carry out a specific task that does not require medical judgment or decision making
  • Removing sutures or staples under the supervision of a physician or other appropriately licensed person, provided that the patient is evaluated, at a minimum, immediately before the procedure by an appropriately licensed professional
  • Act as scribe and enter History and Physical information, chief complaint, medications, allergies, and family history into a chart or Electronic Medical Record and assisting patient in filling out self-report questionnaire
  • Collecting and preparing laboratory specimens and transcribing results without interpreting or assessing the following:
    • Urine dipsticks
    • Phlebotomy, if properly trained and in a CLIA-waived facility o Finger Sticks
    • Cheek Swabs
    • Throat Swabs
    • Superficial cultures
  • Performing basic hearing and vision tests
  • Providing prepared family education and instruction
  • Changing or applying wound dressings (not casts)
  • Applying allergen patch test but not interpreting it

Tasks that cannot be performed by unlicensed persons include:

  • Triage
  • Drawing up or administering vaccinations or immunizations, including preparing and administering allergens
  • Drawing up any medication in syringes
  • Administering medications through any route
  • Administering contrast dyes or injections of any kind
  • Placing sutures and other forms of wound closure
  • Taking x-rays or independently positioning patients for x-rays
  • Applying or removing casts
  • First assisting in surgical procedures
  • Inserting or removing IVs or catheters of any kind
  • Relaying positive test results to patients
  • Teaching patients self-injection of medications or self-catheterization
  • Performing EMGs or other nerve conduction studies

Contact the New York Society of Medical Assistants

Broome County, New York


CAAHEP & ABHES Accredited Medical Assisting Programs New York

Forest Hills, NY Medical Assistant programs:
Austin Medical Assistant Training
109-15 72nd Road, Unit 1A
Forest Hills, NY 11375
White Plains, NY Medical Assistant programs:
Center for Ultrasound Research & Education, Corporation
333 Westchester Avenue, Suite 101W
White Plains, NY 10604