Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between CMA and RMA

medicien-health-stethescope-pdCMA vs RMA

Although by law it’s not a requirement for medical assistants to be certified, a large percentage of them opt to get certification. This is largely due to the fact that most employers require some form of medical assistant certification, and to add to this, carrying out specific duties in some states like drawing blood and x-rays, you need to have certification. Eligibility for medical assistant certification requires one to graduate from a medical assistant training program, which is accredited either by the ABHES or the CAAHEP.

CMA stands for Certified Medical Assistant, and is awarded by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). The certification must be renewed every five years to keep at par with new knowledge/discoveries.
The RMA, on the other hand, stands for Registered Medical Assistant, and this credential is awarded by the AMT (American Medical Technologists), accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.

There is a general tendency for some states and training schools to regard the CMA as the gold standard for the medical assistantship profession, and in rare cases, particular medical institutions in selected states will only recognize the CMA, notably, in Southern California. However, in real practice, this is not the case, as both CMAs and RMAs will mostly carry out similar duties.

The majority of employers across the US recognize both CMA and RMA credentials. Generally, the key difference is that one program registers you while the other certifies you for medical assistantship. Both RMAs and CMAs will do identical work, which is largely to assist medical doctors in their offices. In some states, to become a CMA, requires one to be a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant). However, Medical Assistant certifications do not make one a full nurse.

Qualifying for RMA
To qualify for the RMA through the AMT, one is required to be of good morals and have recently graduated from a medical assistant program with accreditation from either ABHES or CAAHEP. An applicant is also required to have been employed as a medical assistant for not less than five years. You will then have to pass a certification exam to be issued with a certificate.

Qualifying for CMA
It’s similar to RMA. You need to be a completing student or recent graduate of a medical assistant program accredited by ABHES or CAAHEP. You will also need to pass an exam before being issued with the certificate.

CMA refers to Certified Medical Assistant, while RMA is Registered Medical Assistant.
CMA is awarded by the AAMA, while RMA is awarded by the AMT.
Certain medical institutions in particular states only recognize the CMA, and tend to disregard the RMA, for instance, in Southern California.
Although both CMAs and RMAs do similar work, CMA certifies you for medical assistantship, while RMA simply registers you for the same.

Sharing is caring!

Search DifferenceBetween.net :

Email This Post Email This Post : If you like this article or our site. Please spread the word. Share it with your friends/family.


  1. Hi! My name is Christopher Johnson and I am a Register Medical Assisant, the people here in Oklahoma say that I am over qualifed to work in the Nursing Home setting. You would think that if a CMA and a RMA is one in the same then I would be able to work in any Nursing Home setting but they say I not. What do I do since I got my degree for noting if I can’t use them?

    • I think to work in a nursing home u need to have at least a CNA certification to care for the residents, and an LPN to deal with the meds n stuff. Thats why they say you are over qualified. You should look into maybe CNA certification.

    • I think this is a matter of confusion over the initials of CMA and RMA. When it comes to the field of medical assisting, RMA stands for Registered Medical Assistant and CMA stands for Certified Medical Assistant.

      However, CMA can also stand for Certified Medication Aide, which is a certified nursing assistant (CNA) who has completed an additional course to be able to pass meds in a long-term care faciltiy. And this is where the confusion starts. Some states have stopped using the designation Certified Medication Aide (CMA) because it was becoming confused with Certified Medical Assistant (CMA). Oklahoma also has used the term Medication Administratin Technician (MAT). See the problem with initials only being used?

      A medical assistant and a nursing assistant are not the same. MA’s are trained to work in physician offices while nursing assistants are trained to work in long-term care facilities and hospitals. The MA actually has more education than a nursing assistant.

      In a physician office, the MA can administer medications (including injections), change dressings, draw blood, perform simple lab tests, take x-rays, and even perform some medical procedures like irrigating eyes and ears. A nursing assistant would never be allowed to do these things.

      The individual who takes a short course to become a nursing assistant can also take an additional course that would allow them to pass certain medications in a long-term care facility. These medication and nursing assistants need a license in most states, since they do not work DIRECTLY under the supervision of a physician. And this is another big area of confusion—as an unlicensed worker, a medical assistant can give meds in a physician office, but not in a long-term care faciltiy. Well, if you are trained to do it, why can’t you? It all depends on who is supervising the person passing the meds.

      Nursing assistants work under the supervision of a Registered Nurse and the duties of a nursing assistant are outlined by a particular state’s Nurse Practice Act. The NPA also includes what duties an RN may “delegate” to a licensed or unlicensed person.

      Very few states have any laws that specifically address medical assistants, who work DIRECTLY under physician supervision. A physician is bound by that state’s Physician Practice Act, not the Nursing Practice Act. The physician practice act states something like “The physician can delegate any duty to those under his/her direct supervision unless specifically prohibited by law.” This gives the doctor a lot of leeway on what can be delegated to others.

      A doctor can have you assist in surgery if he so directs you, even if you have no training in that area. But, a doctor cannot give you the responsibility of diagnosing or prescribing medication, since the law specifically prohibits doctors from delegating these particualr responsibilities. Hence, a physician can delegate medication administration duties to an unlicensed medical assistant because that MA is directly under physician supervision. Most state nursing practice acts prohibit a nurse from delegating passing medications to an unlicensed worker. A medical assisant may be “certified”, but they are not “licensed.”

      Christian, you were probably told you were “overqualified” because you have more training than a nurse aid. Besides, in Oklahoma, if you wish to work as a nursing assistant in a long-term care facility that receives Medicare payments, you will need to take the CNA state licensure exam that is required by federal law. And also, if you were applying for a job in a nursing home, CMA usually refers to a medication aide and not a medical assistant.

    • There’s 2 different courses for the certification, one ihas more hours than the other course. The course with tmore hours makes it so you can work in the hospitals and nursing homes. The other is private care homes and such.

    • Apply to medical offices better pay

  2. HI===

    • i totally agree with patricia because some day you going to get bored doing the same thing , when working in a hospital you see more and do more and makes you want to be more also , and dont ever settel down for less.

  3. Hi,

    Dont waste your time trying to work as a CNA(Cert Nursing Asst). They are kind of beneath us in the medical field. Where as an RMA, you have the opportunity to work for a physician or lab. Your more respected and do more as a allied health worker. Once you get some experience as MA then you can easily become a Allied Health teacher.

    • This comment is for sade, why would you ever make the comment “they are beneath us” who the hell do you think you are? we all need each other! and dirt is the only thing beneath us;furthermore I would not want to hire someone like you you my dear pathetic creature are beneath human decency.

      • I agree with Elle. I’ve been a CNA for 13 years & about to graduate with my associates in medical assisting. I still work as a CNA & after I graduate, I’m going to work as both! Sade, I can’t believe you would put CNA’s down like that! It takes a special person 2 be a great CNA, unfortuately you are not; you couldn’t even be my CMA! If an employer seen your comment, you probably wouldn’t have a job or nobody else wouldn’t hire you! Thaxs Elle 4 standing up 4 us CNA’s. Ima be a CNA 4 life, with the rest of my degrees! Cause my patients adore me! 😉

        • To:Sade

          For everything that a CNA has to put up with and is expected to do on a day to day basis they may be the most underpaid position in healthcare. Before I transferred to the MA program where I am currently going to school I was originally in the LPN program. During a clinical excursion we were performing the role of a CNA and I will say I have never been more tired or stressed than when I worked at that nursing home for a few weeks. A GOOD CNA is so invaluable to a long term care facility and well-being of the residents there that to say that they are beneath anyone is complete and utter BS. With CNAs NOONE would be able to do anything.

    • all I have to say is omg…what a fool you are to even say such a thing. it seems to me that you are in the wrong field cause you just don’t seem to have a caring heart to be taking care of people. i’m a CNA for 13 and a half years and I must say if it was not for us you would not be doing what your doing cause we are the back bone for you the one who is afraid to get there hand dirty…shame on you.

  4. I agree with you both Ella & Tish. I got my medical assistant (CMA) degree in 08 and it was hard for me to find work because I was fresh out of high school with a degree and no experience. To over qualified for non-medical jobs and under-qualified for my field. I recently went and got my CNA licenses in April and im working in my field right now as a CNA and I love it! it really does take a Strong Loving person to be a CNA! and depending on where u work you make just as much money as a CMA! Now I have a job offer as a CMA on the table making more money just because i got my CNA licenses n gained experience! So chris never give up on your degree and sade you are ignorant for your responds!

  5. Curious.. I’m switching jobs and I need to become certifed. They are aware that I’m currently not. I graduated about 8 years ago, is it too late to become certified? SHould I become registered instead? Any suggestions? Thank you for any help

Leave a Response

Please note: comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.

Articles on DifferenceBetween.net are general information, and are not intended to substitute for professional advice. The information is "AS IS", "WITH ALL FAULTS". User assumes all risk of use, damage, or injury. You agree that we have no liability for any damages.

See more about :
Protected by Copyscape Plagiarism Finder