CMA Class Continues to Prepare for Certification

Students in Sally Clemmons' CMA classes prepare for their certification test by practicing sutures on fruit. This photo was taken before the Covid-19 crisis closed down the schools.

Andrew Velarde, Staff writer

UPDATE: This story was developed before the Covid-19 crisis shut down the schools.  Students in the CMA program are currently working at home via distance learning. 

They walk into the lab with a multitude of different equipment laying on the tables. They look around knowing that this lab will prepare them for one of the most challenging moments of their year. Although they are nervous, they get ready and take their first steps towards a future in the medical field.

The Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) class will be preparing for their certification test in May. The test will be taken online and will test on what the students have been learning throughout the year.

“This is a Certified Medical Assistant class where we work through the year to pass a certification,” CMA teacher Sally Clemmons said. “This test requires the students to put in a lot of effort throughout the year studying and is not a test that you can pass without working hard.”

This exam is administered by the National Healthcare Association throughout the entire year. Only seniors are allowed to take this class because to receive the certification you must have a diploma.

“The certification shows that the student has been taught material that would enable them to work in a doctor’s office and a clinic setting,” Clemmons said. “They learn basic skills like vital signs, drawing blood, how to place EKG [electrocardiogram] leads, how to do lab tests and they also learn front office skills.”

The front office skills include answering the phone, scheduling appointments, basic insurance and billing. They learn these different skills by performing different labs and hands-on activities.

“Benefits students get is if they pass the certification exam they have on their resume,” Clemmons said. “They can get a job working in a doctor’s office and it also allows for extra points if they are applying to programs like nursing school and one of the programs in the healthcare fields.”

Students gain experience doing things that they might have to do for a job later in their life. This gives students with certification and edge when it comes to applying for jobs and colleges.

“The students once a week went to clinics or the  hospital Mother Francis to shadow,” Clemons said. “At the beginning of each year they go through a big orientation with Mother Francis that enables them to go get shadowed by getting HIPPA trained, getting flu shots and getting their TB tested.”

The spring season for the CMA class is lots of clinicals and reviewing for the certification exam. They use labs and online modules to help connect and review information that will go on their certification exam.

“I think the most difficult part as a teacher is keeping the students motivated to study all year,” Clemmons said. “It’s just one exam which contains things from all the way back in September which makes it difficult to pass unless they commit throughout the year.”

Due to the Covid-19 quarantine, students have had to move to  online learning and labs.  However, the certification testing will still occur at the end of May or beginning of June once the at-home testing protocols are established by the certification agency.

“My favorite type of thing is when we are in the skills lab because it’s really fun, they have a great time doing it, we have a lot of laughs because we are all learning together,” Clemmons said. “I really enjoy getting to help the students achieve something that might really help them as they leave Lindale and go on to their next level of education.”