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)
RMA Practice Questions
1. When sterilizing instruments using an autoclave, what parameters should be achieved for wrapped instrument packages or trays?
A. 212 degrees F, 15 lbs pressure, 30 min exposure
B. 270 degrees F, 15 lbs pressure, 30 min exposure
C. 270 degrees F, 15 lbs pressure, 15 min exposure
D. 270 degrees F, 20 lbs pressure, 20 min exposure
2. The pregnancy disorder in which the placenta is positioned over the cervical opening and can potentially cause bleeding during labor and fetal anoxia and death is
B. placenta previa
C. placenta abruptio
3. Wet preps/mounts and potassium hydroxide preps are performed in order to
A. screen for chlamydia and gonorrhea
B. ascertain the cause of vaginitis in women or urethritis in men
C. diagnose conditions such as endometriosis or fibroids
D. biopsy for malignancies
4. An irregular electrocardiograph (ECG) characterized by closely spaced premature ventricular contractions (PVCs), a lack of P waves, and distorted QRS complexes indicates
A. atrial fibrillation
B. paroxysmal atrial tachycardia
C. ventricular tachycardia
D. ventricular fibrillation
5. In which of the following color top tubes should a venipuncture specimen be collected if the laboratory tests to be performed require a serum sample?
A. Red top or red-gray mottled top
B. Lavender top or blue top
C. Dark green top
D. Light gray top
Answers & Explanations
1. B: Response B describes the parameters that must be achieved for steam sterilization of wrapped instrument packages or trays. Response C applies if sterilizing unwrapped items (20 minutes for unwrapped objects covered with cloth). After the autoclave cycle is done, the door can be opened slightly when the temperature goes down to 212 degrees F, but the pressure at that point should be zero.
2. B: This is a description of placenta previa. Eclampsia (A) is hypertension, edema, and proteinuria induced by pregnancy, which can endanger the fetus. Placenta abruptio (C) is sudden premature pulling away of the placenta from the uterus, which can cause fetal hypoxia and possibly death as well as maternal shock and possibly death. Incompatibility (D) is a situation in which the mother is Rh-negative and the fetus Rh-positive and the mother develops anti-Rh antibodies to the fetus’s red blood cells, which can then be depleted and cause fetal death.
3. B: These procedures are used to ascertain the cause of female vaginitis or male urethritis. The medical assistant often assists by mixing the discharge sample in saline and putting it on the microscope slide (wet prep/wet mount), and later adding potassium hydroxide (KOH) and preparing another slide. These are used by the provider to identify yeast, bacteria, and trichomonas, and later for fungi with KOH addition. The other choices are diagnosed using the Amplified DNA Probe Test (A), laparoscopy or ultrasound (C), and cervical punch or cervical cone biopsies (D).
4. C: All of the listed irregularities are types of arrhythmias. This pattern is seen in ventricular tachycardia, which is a very fast heart rate originating in the ventricles. Both ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation (D), which looks like an irregular up-and-down pattern on ECG, can indicate myocardial infarction and life-threatening situations. Atrial fibrillation (A) can be associated with conditions like mitral valve prolapse, and is indicated on ECG by irregularly spaced patterns without distinguishable P waves. Paroxysmal atrial tachycardia (B) is a sudden pattern of more rapid beating that lasts briefly; it can be seen in cardiac patients but often occurs in healthy people.
5. A: In order to collect a serum sample, the provider must use a tube that promotes clot formation, such as a red top, which contains no additives, or a red-gray mottled top, which contains a clot activator and serum separating tube. All of the other listed choices contain additives that prevent clot formation at some step in the cascade to give either plasma or whole blood.