When someone refers to a career in medicine, the first thing many of us think of is a doctor, or maybe a nurse. However, when you consider the entire medical sector – including clinical and hospital care and administration, therapy, laboratory work, dentistry, pharmaceuticals, and radiology – there are actually over 100 different career specialties in the medical sector.
In addition to a degree or some level of schooling and/or experience – most of these specialties require some sort of official certification by an authoritative organization.
Such organizations have standardized tests that determine whether or not one can be certified. Of course, without certification, most employers will not be interested; in contrast, if you are certified for an in-demand career, you will probably find a job easily.
As we live more and more of our lives on the computer, online test preparation for certification is becoming the most common approach. In fact, most often, these tests are themselves given on a computer (even if it is at a testing location), and so it makes sense to practice on the same medium.
Also, you can peruse certification on organization websites and their tests to get a sense of what sorts of careers are out there and which you might want to pursue.
Authoritative Certification Organizations
The American Medical Technologists (AMT) is a non-profit organization to uphold standards and promote the welfare of a specified group of medical professionals: certified medical lab assistants (CMLA), medical laboratory technicians (MLT), medical technologists (MT), registered phlebotomy (blood-drawing) technicians (RPT), certified medical administrative specialists (CMAS), registered dental assistants (RDA), and registered medical assistants (RMA). (Note that, in general, technologist refers to a technique developer, whereas technician refers to one who executes a planned technique.)
The AMT website offers helpful information for those anywhere in their career path—those who are just inquiring, those who need to renew their certification, and those who are seasoned professionals. The website also sells online practice tests for some of its certification exams.
The American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) is the American organization certifying all midwifes and nurse-midwifes. All AMCB candidates must have completed graduate degrees from institutions accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME).
All states have separate midwifery licensure, but most require AMCB certification. A nurse-midwife is a registered nurse with midwifery training and certification, while a midwife has a graduate degree and midwifery training but is not a registered nurse. AMCB certification is frequently an essential element on a hired midwife’s or nurse-midwife’s resume.
The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) is the American organization providing certification for a specified group of 12 types of medical lab (pathology) jobs. These include histotechnicians (HT), histotechnologists (HTL), medical laboratory scientists (MLS), medical laboratory technicians (MLT), medical laboratory assistants (MLA), and phlebotomy technicians (PBT).
Histology is the detailed study of cell structures under a microscope; histological research also involves the processes used to cut, stain, mount, and otherwise prepare samples to be viewed. Medical laboratory scientists (also called medical laboratory technicians) are in charge of processes to test urine, blood, sputum (fluid coughed from the lungs), and other body fluids for diseased (pathological) elements.
Generally, scientists/technologists are more likely to be in a leadership position in the lab, while technicians are more likely to work under a scientist/technologist. A scientist must have a bachelor’s degree, while a technician need only have an associate’s degree. Ideally, these degrees are in or related to microbiology (microscopic biological study).
Examples of what People with These Certifications do
The registered medical assistant (RMA) is certified by the AMT. This person can do a variety of critical medical tasks formerly given to doctors and nurses: they can test vital signs, take samples, record information in medical records, prepare medical instruments for use, and even administer injections.
Individuals pursuing this career should at least have a degree from an accredited junior or community college; there is no need to have a bachelor’s degree. Therefore, this is a great career for those who want to start helping people quickly, without too much time spent in schooling. Even better, there are many online programs to get these degrees. The median salary is around $32,500 per year.
The certified nurse-midwife (CNM), who is certified by the AMCB, is an advanced practice nurse (master’s or higher degree in nursing and much clinical experience) who also has completed training in midwifery. Nurse-midwives do not only provide pregnancy and childbirth care; they can essentially act as OB/GYNs (though they may refer certain issues to actual OB/GYNs), caring for women throughout all life stages – gynecological, prenatal, pregnancy, and postnatal.
This also includes intra-natal health (condition of the baby during the birth process). This career requires a fair amount of schooling and experience, so it is ideal for one who has a passion for nursing and gynecology and wants to have great academic and functional expertise. The median salary is around $100,000 per year.
The certified histotechnician (HT) is certified by the ASCP. This person can prepare slides for microscopic study by a pathologist. Histology is the study of living tissue on the microscopic level; pathology is the study of disease-causing mechanisms on the microscopic level. Therefore, these two areas work hand-in-hand both to advance understanding of what causes disease and to carry out tests that find disease in individuals who have sought medical testing and/or diagnosis.
The histotechnician is valuable in a wide variety of areas, both clinical and research: hospitals, doctor’s offices, pharmaceuticals research, veterinary offices and research, and biological research projects. In fact, they might be gainfully employed anywhere that people need to reliably examine specimens under the microscope.
Histotechnicians are not just people who follow orders from scientists – they understand the difference between abnormal and normal tissue and they know how different stains impact visibility through the microscope. Competence in this area is critical to medical diagnosis.
Histotechnicians do not have to have a bachelor’s degree; however, they do need complete histotechnician training at an accredited institution or an associate’s degree with relevant coursework.
Generally, laboratory experience during the education process is very helpful and desirable to employers. This field is ideal for those who love lab work but are not as interested in extensive academic training and want to enter the workforce quickly. The median salary for a certified histotechnician is around $55,000 per year.
ExamEdge.com is a website that offers online test preparation for almost all United States certification exams and even some Canadian and international certification exams. Its practice tests can be taken in 3 different potentially helpful modes: the timed mode with explanations available afterwards, the untimed mode with explanations available afterwards, and the untimed mode with explanations available as you go.
Once you have purchased tests, you can look back at your results and the explanations as much as you want. ExamEdge uses your score on practice tests to calculate a projected score on the real exam. These exams are true to the real ones: they are based both on the tested subject areas and the real percentages of the test that cover these subject areas.
Probably the most helpful feature is that the program gives you a clear idea of your strong and weak spots, so that you can clearly see what is keeping you from a higher score.
ExamEdge.com offers practice tests for the three medical careers highlighted above. It offers a practice RMA test that covers general medical assisting knowledge, administrative medical assisting, and clinical medical assisting.
The site offers a CNM practice test that covers primary, antepartum, intrapartum, postpartum, and newborn care; also covered are gynecology and professional issues. Its practice test for HTs covers fixation (preservation of tissue samples), processing, embedding or microtomy (creating very thin slices of tissue samples), staining (applying dyes that bring out microscopic features), and laboratory operations.
ExamEdge as a Cost-effective Tool to Achieve Certification
If you just want to get a feel for ExamEdge or if you just want to get a sense of what will be tested for a certain certification, ExamEdge offers a free 10-question test in each certification area. (Potentially, ExamEdge is also a great site to look at if you are not sure what area you want certification in and you just want to know what is out there.)
At ExamEdge you can order one online test for a very manageable price or get bundles of a larger number at a substantial discount per test. Generally, the cost of retaking an exam is greater than the cost of ExamEdge’s practice tests. Therefore, it is better to save yourself the money, time, stress, and trouble of re-taking an exam by carefully working through practice tests.
ExamEdge’s tests are very similar in format to the actual certification exams, and so they allow a sort of “dress rehearsal” for the real thing—very helpful for people who suffer from impairing test anxiety.