How to Pass the CMLA Certified Medical Lab Assistant Exam - MedCerts

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How to Pass the CMLA Certified Medical Lab Assistant Exam

The medical field is expanding, with clinical laboratory technologists and technicians expected to see a rapid 5% job growth from 2022 to 2032. This growth makes it clear—certified medical laboratory assistants are more vital than ever to patient care. Medical laboratory assistants handle crucial tasks like patient sample collection and preparation. Beyond hospitals, their skills extend to various labs and research facilities. There are even options to specialize in fields like hematology or microbiology. To become a medical laboratory assistant, you must pass the Medical Laboratory Assistant Certification (CMLA) exam. This exam isn't suited for last-minute cramming—thorough preparation is critical to your success. Here's everything you need to know to prepare and excel in the CMLA exam on your first try.

    What Is the Medical Laboratory Assistant Certification (CMLA) Exam?

    The CMLA exam is a crucial assessment for those aiming to enter the field as Medical Laboratory Technology Assistants and Medical Laboratory Technicians. This exam tests the essential skills and knowledge necessary for you to succeed in the medical laboratory science field.

    The exam is administered by American Medical Technologists (AMT), a respected authority in allied health certification since 1939.

    Passing the CMLA is a significant step towards a professional career as part of a healthcare team. Most employers look for this certification as it demonstrates a candidate's proficiency and readiness to contribute in a laboratory setting.

    CMLA Exam Eligibility Requirements

    There are a few ways to become a CMLA credential holder. Here's how you can get eligibility for examination:

    Route 1: One way to qualify is to complete an AMT-approved CMLA training program and take the exam within five years of graduation. You must provide your academic transcripts as proof of program completion at registration.

    Route 2: If you waited more than five years between completion of an approved program and the time you take the test, you must meet the requirements above plus:

    • Show six months of documented, full-time clinical laboratory experience within the last three years.

    • A minimum of 520 hours must have been devoted specifically to performing clinical laboratory duties.

    Route 3: If you choose not to complete a clinical training program, you can qualify by completing a minimum of 1,040 hours (six months) of work experience within the past three years in which medical laboratory technology was the primary focus. Plus:

    • You must provide a copy of your High School Diploma or GED at registration.

    You can check your eligibility using the AMT's eligibility checker.

    CMLA Examination Content & Section Breakdown

    The CMLA exam consists of 200 multiple-choice exam questions. These AMT-approved CMLA reference materials provide an overview of what exam topics you're expected to know. You can also check out the complete CMLA exam content outline.

    Category of Examination

    Number of Items

    Percent of Exam

    I. Laboratory Safety and Quality



    II. Pre-examination (Preanalytical) Considerations



    III. Examination (Analytical) Considerations



    IV. Patient Test Management, Communications and Foundations






    Section I: Laboratory Safety and Quality

    Candidates are tested on their ability to maintain safety and quality standards in a lab environment, highlighting the importance of these practices in ensuring accurate and reliable test results.

    This examination category requires understanding safety terminology like:

    • Standard and Universal Precautions

    • Aseptic techniques

    • Pathogen transmission

    • Quality assessment and control

    • Knowledge of quality control terms

    • Implementation of QC/QA procedures

    • Understanding regulations related to proficiency testing

    Section II: Pre-Examination Considerations

    Phlebotomy and specimen collection are crucial for ensuring accurate diagnostic results. Therefore, section two involves practical knowledge of preanalytical processes vital for laboratory work.

    This exam category includes:

    • Understanding terminology related to phlebotomy

    • Differences between blood components

    • Patient identification

    • Proper specimen handling

    • Anticoagulant use

    • Venipuncture techniques

    • Maintaining specimen integrity

    Section III: Examination Considerations

    This section assesses the ability to perform and understand various laboratory tests and analyses, which are crucial for accurate patient diagnosis and treatment.

    You'll need to know about the following topics for this exam category:

    • Clinical chemistry

    • Hematology

    • Immunology

    • Microbiology

    • Urinalysis

    • Medical terminology

    • The use and maintenance of instruments

    • Point-of-care testing practices

    Section IV: Patient Test Management and Communications

    This section ensures that candidates have the interpersonal and professional skills to function effectively in a healthcare setting.

    This exam category covers:

    • Legal

    • Ethical

    • Professional aspects of laboratory work

    • HIPAA compliance

    • Effective communication skills

    • The importance of patient rights

    • Professional conduct

    • Handling critical values

    • Maintaining confidentiality

    How To Register For the Certified Medical Laboratory Assistant Exam

    Once you're confident you meet the eligibility requirements, you can apply for the CMLA exam. It usually takes 1-2 business days for the AMT to review your application.

    Once you're approved, you'll receive an email allowing you to register for your exam appointment. The CMLA exam fee is $135 and is administered at Pearson Vue testing centers across the U.S.

    After passing the exam, graduates enter a Provisional Certification phase, which lasts until they complete 120 hours of documented, approved clinical lab experience.

    Set Yourself Up For Success: Take An Online CMLA Training Course

    Comprehensive Curriculum

    MedCerts' online CMLA preparation course thoroughly covers all essential topics for the exam, from lab safety to medical terminologies. This ensures you're well-prepared not just for the test but also for real-world lab scenarios.

    Flexible Online Learning

    Designed for your convenience, this online course allows you to learn at your own pace, making it perfect for balancing studies with other commitments. It's an ideal choice for those seeking a quality education with the flexibility of online learning.

    AMT-Approved Clinical Training Program

    MedCerts clinical training programs are officially recognized by AMT, ensuring they meet the high standards required for the CMLA certification examination. Enrolling in this course simplifies your path to certification.

    Certified Medical Laboratory Assistant Exam FAQs

    What are the eligibility requirements for the CMLA Exam?

    To be eligible for the CMLA Exam, complete an AMT-approved CMLA training program and take the exam within five years of graduating. If it's been more than five years, you also need six months of full-time clinical laboratory experience within the last three years.

    Alternatively, without completing a clinical laboratory training program, you can qualify with 1,040 hours of laboratory-focused work experience in the past three years, along with a High School Diploma or GED.

    What topics are covered in the CMLA Certification Examination?

    The exam covers laboratory safety, quality control, phlebotomy, clinical chemistry, hematology, immunology, microbiology, urinalysis and legal/ethical aspects.

    What exam score do you need to get to pass the CMLA exam?

    To pass the exam, you must achieve a scaled score of at least 70 within the given time limit. If a candidate does not pass, they must retake the entire exam. The fee for retaking the CMLA certification exam is set at $100.

    Can I retake the CMLA Exam if I don't pass on the first try?

    Yes. There is a mandatory waiting period of 45 days before a candidate can attempt the exam again after a previous try.

    How much is the CMLA exam?

    The CMLA exam fee is $135.

    What jobs can I get with a CMLA certification?

    With a CMLA certification, you can pursue careers such as:

    • Medical Lab Assistant: They play a crucial role in healthcare labs, handling specimen collection, preparation, transportation and conducting various tests on bodily fluids. Estimated salary ranges from $27,718 to $33,202.

    • Health Technician: This role typically involves working in medical labs, running tests and operating diagnostic equipment. The estimated salary range of $30,491 to $40,560.

    Take The First Step Towards Your Next Career

    Want to fast-track your way into a new career as a laboratory medical assistant? Dive into your CMLA preparation with MedCerts by registering for their online certified medical laboratory assistant course today. This program offers a thorough and focused approach to meet the CMLA exam requirements, setting you on the path to becoming a successful medical lab assistant.

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    Published on January 4, 2024