Attaining & Maintaining Your CMA

This page offers information, resources and links to support you in attaining or maintaining your medical assistant certification. There are two certification options for medical assistants; the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), awarded by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), and the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA), awarded by the American Medical Technologists (AMT).

The CMA is the preferred certification by OHSU and is required for all new hires. OHSU accepts the RMA as an "equivalent" certification to the CMA only for current MAs in positions hired before April 1, 2013, and for MAs with formal medical training through the US Armed Forces regardless of hire date. For general information regarding the difference between CMA and RMA see this article.


Choose a topic:

Do I need MA Certification?

MAs already employed at OHSU prior to 4/1/2013:

  • No change required of employees remaining in current jobs. MAs hired into positions prior to 4/1/2013 that did not require a CMA will not be obligated to obtain or maintain certification. MAs hired into positions that did require a CMA will need to maintain certification.
  • Employees applying for lateral transfer will be subject to new requirements of certification.
  • Employees laid off and placed on the Preferential Hire List (PHL) will be subject to new requirements of certification if they choose placement.
  • Current employees ineligible to receive the AAMA CMA certification will have the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) alternative path available to them.

MAs hired on or after 4/1/2013:

  • Must have, or obtain within six months of hire, and maintain as a condition of employment, CMA certification from the American Association of Medial Assistants (AAMA) and bear the expense of maintaining certification. Departments may choose to require the certification at hire as determined by their job postings.
  • If not presently certified, per posting requirements, new hires may be given six months to obtain certification as a condition of successful completion of probation.
  • Once obtained, there will be no allowance for lapsed certifications. Failing to maintain certification will be treated the same as with other certification requirements, e.g. BLS/CPR.
  • AAMA only allows MA graduates of schools accredited by ABHES or CAHEP (national school accreditations) to sit for CMA test.  This means graduates from non-accredited schools will not be eligible for hire as MAs at OHSU. Schools in the Portland area that offer MA programs as of 4/1/2013 can be found here. To research MA programs in Oregon, login to the OHSU Career Information System(CIS) and perform a search.
  • Individuals who have completed formal medical training thru the US Armed Forces will be required to have certification through the American Medical Technologists (AMT) Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) certification.  All other expectations will be the same.

Attaining Certification

As a current MA at OHSU, there are two paths to attaining certification. The school from which you received your MA education will determine which of the two paths you must follow.

Path 1 – MAs who are eligible to sit for AAMA CMA test. Please note: MAs eligible for Path 1 will not be allowed to choose Path 2.

Path 2 – MAs who are not eligible to sit for AAMA CMA test will sit for RMA Certification.

OHSU Conditions of Certification

  • No other certifications will be considered acceptable to meet certification requirement outside of CMA and RMA.
  • The employee is ultimately responsible for deciding whether or not to pursue MA certification.
  • Costs which are necessary outside of OHSU support, will be the responsibility of the employee. Costs may include application and testing fee, recertification fee and CEUs obtained outside of OHSU. The Professional Development Reimbursement Program (PDRP), offered through the CWE Center, may be able to reimburse some or all costs for AFSCME-represented employees.

Certification Resources at OHSU

  • The Professional Development Reimbursement Program (PDRP), offered through the OHSU/AFSCME Career and Workplace Enhancement (CWE) Center, may be able to reimburse some or all costs for AFSCME-represented employees to attain and maintain certification.
  • Healthcare Organizational Effectiveness offers trainings that have been approved for AAMA Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for the maintaining of your CMA.
  • Under the OHSU/AFSCME contract, AFSCME-represented employees are eligible for paid time off for job-related training. See Article 22.1 in the contract for further information.

Maintaining Certification

  • The CMA and RMA have different requirements for recertification.
  • CMA must be renewed (recertified) every 5 years and has two options for completion:
         1. Sit for the CMA test again
         2. Complete 60 continuing education units (CEUs)
  • RMA must be renewed (recertified) every 3 years and has only one option for completion:
    Complete 30 continuing education units (CEUs)
  • Costs will be the responsibility of the employee, outside of the resources noted in section above.The Professional Development Reimbursement Program (PDRP), offered through the CWE Center, may be able to reimburse some or all costs for AFSCME-represented employees. Please note that recertification costs (fees and exam) are not eligible for the PDRP, but that courses, conferences, and other events for CEUs that may lead to recertification, are eligible.