Registered Medical Assistant

Registered Medical Assistants combine medical knowledge with a high skill level in administrative and clerical tasks. Medical assistants can be general assistants with a wide variety of duties, as is usually the case in smaller offices where they may report directly to the physician(s) they support. In larger offices, however, their duties can be more specialized. Basically, a medical assistant combines secretarial and receptionist duties with a solid medical knowledge base.

Most employers prefer to hire medical assistants who have completed a formal training program, either through a postsecondary certificate, a diploma program, or through an associate degree program. A certificate or diploma program usually takes no longer than one year to complete. An associate degree program generally requires two years of study.

To qualify for certification as a Registered Medical Assistant (RMA), the applicant must:

  • Be of good moral character.
  • Be a graduate of an accredited medical assistant training program or a formal medical services training program of the United States Armed Forces.
  • Have at least five years of experience as a medical assistant.

An outline of the examination topics and their questions is below for reference:

General medical assisting knowledge: 41 percent

  • Anatomy and physiology (body systems, disorders and diseases, and wellness)
  • Medical terminology (word parts, definitions, common abbreviations and symbols, and spelling)
  • Medical law (licensure, certification, registration, and terminology)
  • Medical ethics (principles of medical ethics and ethical conduct)
  • Human relations (patient and interpersonal relations)
  • Patient education (patient instruction, patient resource materials, and documentation)

Administrative medical assisting: 24 percent

  • Insurance (terminology, plans, claims, coding, and insurance finance applications)
  • Financial bookkeeping (terminology, patient billing, collections, fundamental medical office accounting procedures, banking procedures, employee payroll, and financial mathematics)
  • Medical receptionist, secretarial, and clerical work (terminology, reception, scheduling, oral and written communication, records and chart management, transcription and dictation, supplies and equipment management, computer applications, and office safety)

Clinical medical assisting: 35 percent

  • Asepsis (terminology, bloodborne pathogens and universal precautions, medical asepsis, and surgical asepsis)
  • Sterilization (terminology, sanitization, disinfection, sterilization, and record-keeping)
  • Instruments (identification, instrument use, and care and handling)
  • Vital signs and mensurations (terminology, and measuring blood pressure, pulse, respirations, and temperature)
  • Physical examinations (medical history, patient positions, methods of examination, specialty examinations, visual acuity, allergies, and terminology)
  • Clinical pharmacology (terminology, parenteral medications, prescriptions, and drugs)
  • Minor surgery (surgical supplies and surgical procedures)
  • Therapeutic modalities (alternative therapies and patient instruction)
  • Laboratory procedures (terminology, safety, the clinical laboratory improvement amendments of 1988, quality control programs, laboratory equipment, laboratory testing and specimen collection)
  • ECG electrocardiography (standard, 12-lead electrocardiogram, mounting techniques, and other electrocardiographic procedures)
  • First aid and emergency response (procedures and legal responsibilities)


Last Updated: November 9, 2023