Certified medical assistants usually wish to keep their credentials and professional membership status active once they have earned their “badge” of distinction. This is facilitated through taking approved continuing education programs that provide continuing education units. A continuing education unit (CEU) or continuing education credit (CEC) is a measure used in continuing education programs, particularly those required in a licensed profession, in order for the professional to maintain the license. Generally, a CEU is defined as ten hours of participation in a recognized continuing education program, with qualified instruction and sponsorship.
When a medical assistant fails to accumulate enough CEUs the certification will lapse. The person can continue to work in their role as a medical assistant since certification is generally not required (with some exceptions) but they can no longer use their professional insignia, badges, and credentials in their signature until the certification exam has been retaken and passed. This is called re-certification (ugh!) and will cost the standard application fees all over again. To receive proper credit to maintain their certification status certified medical assistants must document that they have taken approved continuing education courses that apply to the scope of practice of their discipline while their certification status is active.
Medical assistants can contact their certifying organization and request details of their continuing education course approval and CEU documentation requirements. One way to ease the CEU pain is to do them at home through self-study programs, books, magazines, or even better, on your computer. Various professional membership associations that function as certifying bodies determine their own continuing education and recertification requirements. They decide which continuing education courses meet their approval based on their own criteria. Non-certified medical assistants also benefit greatly from participating in continuing education programs. Subject-related continuing education courses are an effective means of keeping skills and knowledge current for any professional.