Medical Certification Guide


Having the right specialists to navigate the complex billing and coding systems used by medical professionals is key to ensuring the smooth operation of a healthcare provider. As healthcare continues to be a major focus for the American public, the demand for certified medical billing and coding specialists continues to grow.

In addition to the roles above, becoming certified in any area of the medical profession is an excellent way to both directly and indirectly serve the health needs of your local community. Like most careers in the medical profession, there is certainly no lack of training and certifications required of those who seek to contribute their talents to the industry.

The good news is that many of the certifications you need may be easier to obtain than you think. Below is an overview of several different certifications and their corresponding occupations within the medical profession.

Medical Certifications Offered by the National Healthcareer Association

These days, there are several certifications that medical professionals can obtain to expand their career prospects within the healthcare field. The following list of five unique medical certifications offered by the NHA provides only a sampling of the medical occupations that currently accept certification.

1. Pharmacy Technician (CPhT)

Certified Pharmacy Technicians are typically responsible for receiving and filling prescription requests from patients and doctors, as well as maintaining and establishing patient prescriptions records.

In order to become a Certified Pharmacy Technician, or CPhT, candidates are required to complete the ExCPT exam. This exam will test your knowledge of regulations and technician duties, drugs and drug products, and the process of dispensing medication.

2. EKG Technician (CET)

Certified EKG Technicians are experts at operating machines that monitor the health of a patient’s heart. In addition to administering tests, EKG technicians may also be responsible for reviewing and delivering results to a physician and scheduling follow-up appointments.

The process of becoming a Certified EKG Technician, or CET, requires that candidates pass an EKG technician exam, which requires that your skills are evaluated on-the-job. The NHA posts a helpful test plan on their website that should give you an idea of what the EKG technician exam might be like.

3. Operating Room Surgical Technician (CORST)

Certified Operating Room Surgical Technician, or CORST, is typically responsible for prepping an operating room for surgery by sterilizing surgical tools, setting up equipment and being available to assist nurses or physicians when needed.

To become an operating room surgical technician, candidates must successfully pass a certification exam that includes up to 200 questions that relate to a CORST’s duties and responsibilities. For more information, the NHA provides an extensive handbook on the exam for candidates to refer to.

4. Medical Laboratory Assistant (CMLA)

Certified Medical Laboratory Assistant, or CMLA, is responsible for being on-hand to assist in the analysis of specimens sent to the medical lab, such as blood and other bodily fluids. The CMLA may also be responsible for maintaining and operating lab equipment, in addition to other lab-related duties.

In order to become a Certified Medical Laboratory Assistant, candidates must pass the CMLA exam, which covers several topics, including chemistry, hematology, immunology and general laboratory procedures. For more information and a sample test, is a great resource to check out.

5. Electronic Health Record Specialist (CEHRS)

Certified Electronic Health Record Specialists are primarily responsible for making sure patient records are compliant, assisting with the submission of claims to insurers and reviewing patient records for completeness. Unlike medical billers and coders, who interpret medical records for billing purposes, electronic health record specialists audit and maintain internal records held by the healthcare provider.

Becoming a Certified Electronic Health Record Specialist, or CEHRS, requires the successful completion of a certification exam that tests your knowledge on health records, software and equipment usage, as well as medical billing and charting. The NHA provides a comprehensive handbook that CEHRS candidates can use to familiarize themselves with the role before diving headfirst into the exam.

Certification Options for Medical Billers and Coders

Given the complex scope of medical billing and coding these days, it is critical for healthcare providers to employ one, or several, certified professionals to handle the task of medical business operations. As a result, medical billing and coding specialists are perhaps two of the most essential roles for maintaining a healthcare provider’s bottom line.

While the two occupations are typically grouped together, they both have unique differences. A medical coder is mainly responsible for ensuring that a doctor’s diagnosis, for example, is accurately translated into the correct code for insurance reimbursement. A medical biller, on the other hand, is required to have an extensive knowledge of both provider and insurance billing procedures, as well as the many laws that regulate the way healthcare providers can collect on medical debts.

Today, there are many ways to become a certified medical biller or coder. Below is a selection of certifications currently available for you to consider.

1. Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialist (CMRS)

The American Medical Billing Association currently offers a robust selection of training courses and materials that are designed to help you prepare for and successfully complete the Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialist (CMRS) exam. The certification and training offered by the AMBA is considered to be the most comprehensive around for the medical billing profession.

Once a candidate enrolls, he or she has up to 45 days to complete the exam through the association’s online portal. It typically takes about 3-4 weeks for candidates to receive their certification once they pass the exam. The AMBA allows candidates to retake the exam twice for free after a 30-day (but no more than 60-day) waiting period.

2. Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS)

In addition to the several medical certifications discussed earlier in this article, the NHA also offers a certification exam for medical billers and coders, known as the Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS) exam.

While the CBCS exam offered by NHA is less extensive than the CMRS exam proctored by the AMBA, it does test candidates on relevant topics, such as medical terminology, coding, claims processing and ethics. The CBCS exam is comprised of 100 multiple choice questions and candidates are allotted 100 minutes (1 hour and 40 minutes) to complete the exam.

3. Certified Professional Coder (CPC)

Another great option that is specific to prospective medical coders is the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) credential offered by the AAPC. Unlike the two certifications above, however, a CPC credential requires a deeper knowledge of medical coding and terminology.

The CPC exam is comprised of 150 multiple choice questions that can be answered with the aid of approved coding manuals. Candidates will have 5 hours and 40 minutes to complete the exam with one free retake should your first attempt be unsuccessful.

Medical Certification Is the Way to Go!

Even though several of the medical professions listed above do not specifically require candidates to obtain certification in their field, not being certified can be a serious disadvantage. In fact, competition for jobs in healthcare can be fierce, with several job candidates opting to obtain multiple certifications in their chosen field, as opposed to just one.

Luckily, there are plenty of options for you to obtain certification for your chosen field within the medical profession. The choices detailed in this article are only a few of the many training and certification options at your disposal—most, if not all, of which can be completed online.

If you’ve been considering a career as a medical biller, coder, or even another role within the medical profession, take some time to find out more about the certifications that interest you. Not only will becoming certified in your chosen specialization benefit the healthcare provider that employs you, but it could have a very positive impact on your future career prospects in the healthcare field.