60 Years of Caring

In 2016, the AAMA celebrates its 60th anniversary. Learn about the association’s accomplishments over the past half-century.

Milestones in Certification
The First 60 Presidents
How it Began
The Woman Who Started It All: Maxine Williams, CMA-A

Milestones in Certification

A group from among the first examinees in Miami, in 1963. Guess which of these examinees became the 1967 AAMA President?
Click here for the answer.

In 1963 the first AAMA CMA Certification Exams were conducted in California, Kansas, and Florida, with 112 medical assistants registering. The American Medical Association (AMA) helped develop the first tests. Here's how certification has evolved over the years:

By 2016, more than 190,000 medical assistants had been awarded the Certified Medical Assistant (AAMA), or CMA (AAMA), credential.

1961 The Certifying Board is established.
1962 A sample exam is offered.
1963 The first exams are conducted.
1977 The National Board of Medical Examiners is engaged as the test consultant.
1978 The exam is given in January and June at test centers nationwide.
1980 CMAs can recertify by continuing education or exam.
1998 Requirement that exam candidates be graduates of a medical assisting program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) goes into effect.
2002 Graduates of medical assisting programs accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) become eligible candidates for the exam.

A CMA pin journeys into space aboard a NASA shuttle.
2003 Recertification becomes mandatory to use the CMA credential.
The October exam is added.

Effective January 1, 2008, the credential changed from Certified Medical Assistant or CMA to Certified Medical Assistant (AAMA) or CMA (AAMA).


The Curriculum Review Board of the AAMA Endowment was officially renamed the Medical Assisting Education Review Board.


Computer-based testing for the CMA (AAMA) Certification/Recertification Examination began January 5, 2009.


The Continuing Education Board (CEB) celebrated the release of the new e-Learning Center (e-LC), which offers constant online access to continuing education.

2011 New AAMA Mission Statement was approved:
  • The mission of the American Association of Medical Assistants is to provide the medical assistant professional with education, certification, credential acknowledgment, networking opportunities, scope-of-practice protection, and advocacy for quality, patient-centered health care.

Definition of medical assistant was approved:

  • Medical assistants are multiskilled members of the health care team who perform administrative and clinical procedures under the supervision of licensed health care providers.

CMA (AAMA) Core Values were developed and approved:

  • Actively participate in the delivery of quality health care
    Promote patient safety and well-being.

    Contribute to a positive health care experience for patients.
    Demonstrate integrity and respect, and protect patient confidentiality.

    Advocate the essential value of certification and continuing education.
    Embrace change, growth, and learning.

 The Board of Trustees approved a new AAMA Vision Statement:

  • A CMA (AAMA) for every patient.

The following trademarks and logos were registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office:

  • CMA (AAMA)
  • American Association of Medical Assistants
  • AAMA

Answer: Elvera Fischer, RN, CMA-C, the AAMA's 1967 president.

The First 60 Presidents

1957 †Maxine Williams, CMA-A (KS)
1958 Mary Kinn, CMA-A, CPS (CA)
1959 †Lucille Swearingen (OK)
1960 †Marian Little (IA)
1961 Bettye Baldwin (IN)
1962 †Lillie Woods (CA)
1963 Alice Budny (WI)
1964 Judy Coleman, CMA-AC (TX)
1965 †Rose Merritt (GA)
1966 †Marge Slaymaker (KS)
1967 Elvera Fischer, RN, CMA-C (IL)
1968 Margaret Webber, CMA-C (OH)
1969 †Mildred Crawford, CMA-AC (TX)
1970 †Ruth Dize (VA)
1971 †Marie Young (IN)
1972 †Helen Stephens (UT)
1973 Elisabeth Massey, CMA-AC (CA)
1974 Marian Cooper, CMA-C (PA)
1975 Betty Lou Willey, CMA-AC (MI)
1976 Laura Haynes, CMA-AC (OH)
1977 Joan Michaels, CMA-A (NC)
1978 †Jeanne Bloom, CMA-A (IA)
1979 †Wini Schwartz, CMA-AC (CA)
1980 †Jean Mobley, CMA-AC (TX)
1981 Dot Sellars, CMA-A (VA)
1982 Mabel Ann Veech, CMA-A (FL)
1983 †Betty Mays, CMA-A (AZ)
1984 Janet Connell, CMA-A (KY)
1985 Ivy Relkin, CMA-AC (NY)
1986 Margaret Corcoran, CMA-AC (NJ)
1987 Josephine Estrada, RN, CMA-AC (TX)
1988 Ann Jordana, CMA-AC, RT (FL)
1989 Barbara Parker, CMA-AC (WA)
1990 Juanita Blocker, CMA-C, LPN (AL)
1991 Jean Keenon, MA, Ed, CMA-A (AL)
1992 Mary Lou Allison, CMA-C (FL)
1993 Janice Caplan, CMA-A (NY)
1994 Geneva Straughan, MBA, CMA-AC (TX)
1995 Cheryl Vineyard, CMA, POLT (NM)
1996 Ima Backstrom, CMA (AR)
1997 Carol Clapp, CMA, EMT (TN)
1998 Norma Parker, CMA (NE)
1999 Glenda Cartee, CMA (SC)
2000 Joyce Nakano, CMA-A (CA)
2001 Mary Dey, CMA-AC (MI)
2002 Julianna Drumheller, CMA (VA)
2003 Luella Wetherbee, CMA, CPC (ID)
2004 Theresa Rieger, CMA, CPC (OK)
2005 Lee Damon, CMA (NY)
2006 Mary C. Dyer, CMA-A (TX)
Rebecca Walker, CMA (AAMA), CPC (NC)
2008 Linda Brown (NJ)
2009 Kathryn Panagiotacos, CMA (AAMA) (FL)
2010 Boni Bruntz, CMA-A (AAMA) (CO)
Betty Springer, CMA-C (AAMA) (FL)
Ann Naegele, CMA (AAMA) (TX)
2013 Chris Hollander, CMA (AAMA) (CO)
2014 Nina Watson, CMA (AAMA), CPC (CA)
Charlene Couch, CMA (AAMA) (UT)
Paula Purdy, CMA (AAMA) (OR)


How it Began

In 1955 the Kansas Medical Assistants Society organized a meeting to consider the formation of a national organization. A total of 78 representatives from 15 states attended. The organizing states voted on and accepted the name of the American Association of Medical Assistants. The 78 representatives each donated $5 to an interim fund for beginning organizational purposes.

October 26–28, 1956
Pfister Hotel, Milwaukee
Attendance: 250 people,
representing 16 states

September 8–12, 2006
Hilton Hotel, Milwaukee
600+ people, including
representatives of 43 states

The Charter Meeting

Just one year later, 250 people attended the charter meeting in Milwaukee, Wis. During a three-day period, meeting attendants adopted a formal constitution and bylaws, and elected a core of officers. The first educational sessions for medical assistants were offered at this meeting. And so, the 1956 meeting goes down in history as the charter meeting of the AAMA.

The First 15 States

The Woman Who Started It All
Maxine Williams, CMA-A

When Maxine Williams, CMA-A, entered the world, she was so small that her mother's wedding band made a golden bracelet for her wrist. But, today this petite lady’s name looms large in AAMA lore.

From left: Judy Coleman, CMA-AC, W. Hall, MD, Lucille Swearingen, Carmen Kline, CMA-A, with Maxine Williams, CMA-A.

Williams cofounded the AAMA in 1956 and became the association's first president. She started the AAMA based on the conviction that an organization of medical office employees would greatly benefit the health care field.

Williams believed so strongly in the profession that she wanted to share it with others. In 1959 she donated $200 to start a fund to help needy students pursue their medical assisting studies. This would become the Maxine Williams Scholarship Fund. In honor of her dedication to the association, Williams was presented the Life Member Award in 1976.

Maxine Williams, CMA-A, conducting a leadership seminar at Sacred Heart General Hospital in Eugene, Oregon, in September 1966.

Williams also made a name for herself in the Radiologists Business Managers Association (RBMA). She became a member of the RBMA's first Board of Directors, edited the association's first publication, and maintained its headquarters in her home. For all of her efforts, Williams was appointed Executive Secretary of the RBMA and later was conferred the title of Executive Secretary Emeritus.

Williams passed away in January 1984, but her legacy lives on through the AAMA.

Donate to the Maxine Williams Scholarship Fund.