Exam Content Outline

The exam candidate's navigation tool for study, the outline lists, by topic category, the subject matter covered in the exam.

For 2014 Examinees

If you are preparing for exams administered in 2014, refer to this Exam Content Outline. View the number and percent of questions on the exam by major content areas.

For 2015 Examinees

Candidates for exams to be administered in 2015 should reference this Content Outline.

CMA (AAMA) Certification/Recertification Examination Content Outline

(For exams administered in 2014)

I. A–F General

A. Medical terminology

1. Word building and definitions
a. Basic structure
(1) Roots or stems
(2) Prefixes
(3) Suffixes
(4) Abbreviations
b. Surgical procedures
c. Diagnostic procedures
d. Medical specialties

2. Uses of terminology
a. Spelling
b. Selection and use (e.g., data entry, reports, records, documents, patient education, correspondence, medicolegal documentation, letters, memos, messages, facsimiles)
c. Reference sources

B. Anatomy and physiology

1. Body as a whole, including multiple systems
a. Structural units
b. Anatomical divisions
c. Positions and directions
d. Body planes
e. Common diseases and pathology

2. Systems, including structure, function, related conditions and diseases, and their interrelationships
a. Integumentary
b. Musculoskeletal
c. Nervous
d. Cardiovascular, hematopoietic and lymphatic
e. Respiratory
f. Digestive
g. Urinary
h. Reproductive
i. Endocrine
j. Sensory

C. Psychology

1. Basic principles
a. Understanding human behavior
(1) Behavioral theories
(2) Death and dying

2. Developmental stages of the life cycle
a. Developmental theories used to explain behavior and development
b. Human growth and development

3. Defense mechanisms
a. Recognition
b. Management

D. Professionalism

1. Displaying professional attitude
a. Supporting professional organization
b. Accepting responsibility for own actions

2. Job readiness and seeking employment
a. Résumé and cover letter
b. Methods of job searching
c. Interviewing as a job candidate

3. Working as a team member to achieve goals
a. Member responsibility
b. Promoting competent patient care
c. Utilizing principles of group dynamics

E. Communication

1. Adapting communication according to an individual’s needs
a. Blind
b. Deaf
c. Elderly
d. Children
e. Seriously ill
f. Mentally impaired
g. Illiterate
h. Non-English-speaking
i. Anxious
j. Angry/distraught
k. Culturally different

2. Recognizing and responding to verbal and nonverbal communication
a. Body language
b. Listening skills
c. Eye contact
d. Barriers to communication
e. Identifying needs of others

3. Professional communication and behavior
a. Professional situations
(1) Tact
(2) Diplomacy
(3) Courtesy
(4) Responsibility/integrity
b. Therapeutic relationships
(1) Impartial behavior
(2) Empathy/sympathy
(3) Understanding emotional behavior

4. Patient interviewing techniques
a. Types of questions
(1) Exploratory
(2) Open-ended
(3) Direct
b. Evaluating effectiveness
(1) Observation
(2) Active listening
(3) Feedback
c. Legal restrictions

5. Receiving, organizing, prioritizing, and transmitting information
a. Modalities for incoming and outgoing data (e.g., mail, fax, telephone, computer)
b. Prioritizing incoming and outgoing data (e.g., importance, urgency, recipient availability)

6. Telephone techniques
a. Incoming calls management criteria
(1) Screening
(2) Maintaining confidentiality
(3) Gathering data
(4) Multiple-line competency
(5) Transferring appropriate calls
(6) Identifying caller, office, and self
(7) Taking messages
(8) Ending calls
b. Monitoring special calls
(1) Problem calls (e.g., unidentified caller, angry patient, family member)
(2) Emergency calls

7. Fundamental writing skills
a. Sentence structure
b. Grammar
c. Punctuation

F. Medicolegal guidelines and requirements

1. Licenses
a. Medical practice acts
b. Revocation/suspension of license
(1) Criminal/unprofessional conduct
(2) Professional/personal incapacity

2. Legislation
a. Advanced directives
b. Anatomical gifts
c. Reportable incidences
(1) Public health statutes (e.g., communicable diseases, vital statistics, substance abuse/chemical dependency, abuse against persons)
(2) Wounds of violence
d. Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
e. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
f. Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act (CLIA ’88)
g. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
h. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

3. Documentation/reporting
a. Sources of information
b. Drug Enforcement Administration(DEA)
c. Internal Revenue Service (e.g., personnel forms)
d. Employment laws
e. Personal injury occurrences
f. Workers’ compensation
g. Medical records
(1) Patient activity
(2) Patient care
(3) Patient confidentiality
(4) Ownership
h. Personnel records
(1) Performance evaluation
(2) Privacy

4. Releasing medical information
a. Consent
(1) Patient written authorization
(2) Federal codes
(a) Right to privacy
(b) Drug and alcohol rehabilitation records
(c) Public health and welfare disclosures
(d) HIV-related issues
(e) Subpoena duces tecum
b. Rescinding authorization for release

5. Physician-patient relationship
a. Contrac
(1) Legal obligations
(2) Consequences for noncompliance
b. Responsibility and rights
(1) Patient
(2) Physician
(3) Medical assistant
c. Guidelines for third-party agreements
d. Professional liability
(1) Current standard of care
(2) Current legal standards
(3) Informed consent
e. Arbitration agreements
f. Affirmative defenses
(1) Statute of limitations
(2) Comparative/contributory negligence
(3) Assumption of risk
g. Termination of medical care
(1) Establishing policy
(2) Elements for withdrawal
(3) Patient notification and documentation
h. Medicolegal terms and doctrines

6. Maintaining confidentiality
a. Agent of physician
(1) Patient rights
(2) Releasing patient information
b. Intentional tort
(1) Invasion of privacy
(2) Slander and libel

7. Performing within ethical boundaries
a. Ethical standards
(1) AAMA Code of Ethics
(2) AMA Code of Ethics
b. Patient rights
c. Current issues in medical bioethics

II. G–Q Administrative

G. Data entry
1. Keyboard fundamentals and functions
a. Alphanumeric, and symbol keys
b. Tabulation

2. Formats
a. Letters
b. Memos
c. Reports
d. Envelopes
e. Chart notes

3. Proofreading
a. Proofreader’s marks
b. Making corrections from rough draft 

H. Equipment

1. Equipment operation
a. Calculator
b. Photocopier
c. Computer
d. Fax machine
e. Telephone services and features
f. Scanners

2. Maintenance and repairs
a. Contents of instruction manual
b. Routine maintenance
(1) Agreements
(2) Warranty
(3) Repair service 

3. Protection and safety 

I. Computer concepts

1. Computer components
a. Terminology
b. Central processing unit (CPU), monitor, keyboard
c. Printer
d. Disk drive
e. Storage devices (e.g., hard drives, magnetic tapes, CD-ROMs, flash drives)
f. Operating systems
g. Basic commands 

2. Computer applications
a. Word processing
b. Database (e.g., menu, fields, records, files)
c. Spreadsheets, graphics
d. Electronic mail
e. Networks
f. Security/password
g. Medical management software
(1) Patient data
(2) Report generation

3. Internet services

 J. Records management

1. Needs, purposes, and terminology of filing systems
a. Basic filing systems
(1) Alphabetic
(2) Numeric/terminal digit
(3) Subject
b. Special filing systems
(1) Color-code
(2) Tickler file
(3) Electronic data processing files (EDP)
(4) Cross-reference/master file 

2. Filing guidelines
a. Storing
b. Protecting/safekeeping
c. Transferring

3. Medical records (paper/electronic)
a. Organization of patient’s medical record
b. Types
(1) Problem-oriented
(2) Source-oriented
c. Collecting information
d. Making corrections
e. Retaining and purging
(1) Statute of limitations 

K. Screening and processing mail

1. U.S. Postal Service
a. Classifications
b. Types of mail services 

2. Postal machine/meter 

3. Processing incoming mail 

4. Preparing outgoing mail
a. Labels
b. Optical character reader (OCR) guidelines

L. Scheduling and monitoring appointments

1. Utilizing appointment schedules/types
a. Stream
b. Wave/modified wave
c. Open booking
d. Categorization

2. Appointment guidelines
a. Appointment schedule matrix
b. Legal aspects
c. New/established patient
d. Patient needs/preference
e. Physician preference/habits
f. Facilities/equipment requirements 

3. Appointment protocol
a. Follow-up visits
(1) Routine
(2) Urgent
b. Emergency/acutely ill
c. Physician referrals
d. Cancellations/no-shows
e. Physician delay/unavailability
f. Outside services (e.g., lab, X-ray, surgery)
g. Reminders/recalls
(1) Appointment cards
(2) Phone calls 

M. Resource information and community services

1. Patient advocate
a. Services available
b. Appropriate referrals
c. Follow-up 

N. (Currently there are no items for this category)

O. Maintaining the office environment

1. Physical environment
a. Arrangement of furniture, equipment, and supplies
b. Facilities and equipment
(1) Maintenance and repair
(2) Safety regulations
(a) Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
(b) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines
(c) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
(d) Fire regulations
(e) Security systems 

2. Equipment and supply inventory
a. Inventory control
b. Purchasing 

3. Maintaining liability coverage
a. Types of coverage
b. Recordkeeping

4. Time management
a. Establishing priorities
b. Managing routine duties 

P. Office policies and procedures

1. Patient information booklet

2. Personnel manual

3. Policy and procedures manuals/protocols

Q. Practice finances

1. Bookkeeping principles
a. Daily reports, charge slips, receipts, ledgers, etc.
(1) Charges, payments, and adjustments
(2) Identifying and correcting errors
b. Petty cash 

2. Coding systems
a. Types
(1) Current Procedural Terminology (CPT)
(2) International Classification of Diseases, Clinical Modifications (ICD-CM) (current schedule)
(3) Healthcare Financing Common Procedural Coding System (HCPCS Level II)
b. Relationship between procedure and diagnosis codes 

3. Third-party billing
a. Types
(1) Capitated plans
(2) Commercial carriers
(3) Government plans
(a) Medicare
(b) Medicaid
(c) Tricare
(d) CHAMPVA
(4) Prepaid HMO, PPO, POS
(5) Workers’ compensation
b. Processing claims
(1) Manual and electronic preparation of claims
(2) Tracing claims
(3) Sequence of filing (e.g., primary vs. secondary)
(4) Reconciling payments/rejections
(5) Inquiry and appeal process
c. Applying managed care policies and procedures
(1) Referrals
(2) Precertification
d. Fee schedules
(1) Methods for establishing fees
(a) Relative Value Studies
(b) Resource-based Relative Value Scale (RBRVS)
(c) Diagnosis Related Groups (DRGs)
(2) Contracted fees 

4. Accounting and banking procedures
a. Accounts receivable
(1) Billing procedures
(a) Itemization
(b) Billing cycles
(2) Aging/collection procedures
(a) Collection agencies
(b) Consumer protection acts
b. Accounts payable
(1) Ordering goods and services
(2) Monitoring invoices
(3) Tracking merchandise
c. Banking procedures
(1) Processing accounts receivable
(2) Preparing bank deposit 

5. Employee payroll
a. Calculating wages
b. Payroll forms 

III. R–Z Clinical

R. Principles of infection control

1. Principles of asepsis 

2. Aseptic technique
a. Medical asepsis
(1) Handwashing
(2) Sanitization
(3) Chemical disinfection
b. Surgical asepsis
(1) Scrubbing
(2) Gowning
(3) Gloving
(4) Surgical assisting
(5) Preparing equipment
(6) Preparing items for autoclave
(7) Performing sterilization techniques 

3. Disposal of biohazardous material

4. Standard precautions

S. Treatment area

1. Principles of equipment operation
a. Autoclave/sterilizer
b. Cast equipment/materials
c. Electrocardiograph
d. Examination tables
e. Microscope
f. Ophthalmoscope/otoscope/stethoscope
g. Oxygen
h. Physical therapy modalities
i. Endoscopes
j. Scales
k. Sphygmomanometers
l. Spirometer
m. Thermometers
n. Nebulizers
o. Mobility assistive devices
p. Oximeter 

2. Restocking supplies

3. Preparing/maintaining treatment areas

4. Safety precautions

T. Patient preparation and assisting the physician

1. Vital signs
a. Performing
b. Recording 

2. Examinations
a. Types
b. Body positions
c. Body mechanics 

3. Procedures
a. Instruments, supplies, and equipment
b. Explanation and instructions 

4. Patient education
a. Health maintenance and disease prevention
b. Use and care of patient equipment (e.g., wheelchair, crutches)
c. Instruction for procedure preparation
d. Patient administered medications 

U. Patient history interview

1. Components of patient history
a. Personal data
b. Chief complaint
c. Past, present, family, and social history
d. Review of systems 

2. Documentation guidelines 

V. Collecting and processing specimens; diagnostic testing

1. Methods of collection
a. Blood
(1) Vein
(2) Capillary
b. Urine
c. Stool
d. Sputum
e. Cultures
(1) Throat
(2) Vaginal
(3) Wounds
(4) Urine
(5) Blood 

2. Processing specimens
a. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines
b. Proper labeling
c. Contamination
d. Specimen preservation
e. Recordkeeping 

3. Quality control 

4. Performing selected tests
a. Urinalysis
(1) Physical
(2) Chemical
(3) Microscopic
b. Hematology
(1) Hematocrit
(2) Hemoglobin
(3) Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
(4) Automated cell counts
(a) Red blood cell (RBC)
(b) White blood cell (WBC)
(c) Platelet
(5) Coagulation testing
c. Blood chemistry
(1) Glucose
(2) Kidney function tests
(3) Liver function tests
(4) Lipid profile
(5) Hemoglobin A1c
d. Immunology
(1) Mono test
(2) Strep test
(3) C-reactive protein (CRP)
(4) Pregnancy testing
e. Microbiology
(1) Theory/terminology
(a) Bacteria
i. Gram staining
(b) Virus
(c) Fungus
(d) Parasites
(e) Protozoa
f. Tuberculosis testing
g. Guaiac testing 

5. Electrocardiography (EKG/ECG)

6. Vision testing

7. Hearing testing

8. Respiratory testing
a. Pulmonary function
b. Spirometry
c. Pulse oximetry
d. Nebulizer treatment 

9. Medical imaging
a. Safety principles
b. Patient preparation
c. Patient instruction 

W. Preparing and administering medications

(For the 50 most commonly used medications, see the “Top 200 Drugs” at www.rxlist.com)

1. Pharmacology
a. Classes of drugs
b. Drug forms
c. Drug action/uses
d. Side effects/adverse reactions
e. Emergency use
f. Substance abuse 

2. Preparing and administering oral and parenteral medications
a. Calculation of dosage
b. Routes of administration
c. Types of injections
d. Injection sites 

3. Prescriptions
a. Safekeeping
b. Medication recordkeeping
c. Controlled substance guidelines 

4. Immunizations
a. Childhood
b. Adult vaccines
c. Storage
d. Recordkeeping 

X. Emergencies

1. Preplanned action
a. Policies and procedures
b. Legal implications and action documentation
c. Equipment
(1) Crash cart
(2) Automated external defibrillator 

2. Assessment and triage 

3. Emergency preparedness 

Y. First aid

1. Identifying and responding to:
a. Bleeding/pressure points
b. Burns
c. Cardiac and respiratory arrest/CPR
d. Choking/Heimlich maneuver
e. Diabetic coma/insulin shock
f. Fractures
g. Poisoning
h. Seizures
i. Shock
j. Stroke
k. Syncope
l. Wounds 

Z. Nutrition

1. Basic principles
a. Dietary guidelines
b. Food nutrients (e.g., vitamins, minerals) 

2. Special needs
a. Diets
b. Restrictions