In November 2006, the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) Certified Medical Assistant® (CMA) Certification/Recertification Program was granted accreditation by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). This outstanding achievement is yet another landmark in the history of the AAMA, its Certifying Board, and the CMA credential.

The following language from the NCCA Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs presents a good overview of NCCA accreditation:

The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) accredits certification organizations complying with its Standards. The mission of NCCA is to help ensure the health, welfare, and safety of the public through the accreditation of certification programs/ organizations that assess professional competence. The NCCA uses a peer review process to establish accreditation standards, to evaluate compliance with these standards, to recognize organizations/programs which demonstrate compliance, and to serve as a resource on quality certification. The purpose of NCCA accreditation is to provide the public and other stakeholders the means by which to identify certification programs that serve their competency assurance needs. NCCA Standards address the structure and governance of the certifying agency, the characteristics of the certification program, the information required to be available to applicants, certificants, and the public, and the recertification initiatives of the certifying agency. NCCA is a separately governed accreditation arm of the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA), a membership association of certification organizations providing technical and educational information concerning certification practices.

The following are some of the Standards that the CMA Program had to meet in order to receive this highly-regarded accreditation:

The purpose of the certification program is to conduct certification activities in a manner that upholds standards for competent practice in a profession, occupation, role, or skill.

The certification program must be structured and governed in ways that are appropriate for the profession, occupation, role, or skill, and that ensure autonomy in decision making over essential certification activities.

The certification board or governing committee of the certification program must include individuals from the certified population, as well as voting representation from at least one consumer or public member…

The certification program must do the following:

Establish, publish, apply, and periodically review key certification policies and procedures concerning existing and prospective certificants, such as those for determining eligibility criteria; applying for certification; administering assessment instruments; establishing performance domains, appeals, confidentiality, certification statistics, and discipline; and complying with applicable laws.

Award certification only after the knowledge and/or skill of individual applicants has been evaluated and determined to be acceptable.

Maintain a list of and provide verification of certified individuals.

Analyze, define, and publish performance domains and tasks related to the purpose of the credential, and the knowledge and/or skill associated with the performance domains and tasks and use them to develop specifications for the assessment instruments.

Employ assessment instruments that are derived from the job/practice analysis and that are consistent with generally accepted psychometric principles.

Set the cut score consistent with the purpose of the credential and the established standard of competence for the profession, occupation, role, or skill.

Demonstrate the psychometric procedures used to score, interpret, and report assessment results.

Ensure that reported scores are sufficiently reliable for the intended purposes of the assessment instruments.

Demonstrate that different forms of an assessment instrument assess equivalent content and that candidates are not disadvantaged for taking a form of an assessment instrument that varies in difficulty from another form.

Develop and adhere to appropriate, standardized, and secure procedures for the development and administration of the assessment instruments. The fact that such procedures are in force should be published.

Require periodic recertification and establish, publish, apply, and periodically review policies and procedures for recertification.

Demonstrate that its recertification requirements measure or enhance the continued competence of certificants.

Demonstrate continued compliance to maintain accreditation.

Accreditation by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies will add to the credibility, prestige, and recognition of the Certified Medical Assistant® (CMA) credential, and will assist the AAMA in its right to practice initiatives. Please join me in congratulating the AAMA Certifying Board for this outstanding accomplishment.

Any questions about this article can be directed to AAMA Executive Director and Legal Counsel Donald A. Balasa, JD, MBA, at dbalasa@aama-ntl.org or 800/228-2262.