Medical Assistant Program

What is a Medical Assistant?

Medical Assistants are healthcare professionals who work under the direct supervision of licensed healthcare practitioners in medical clinics and offices.

What does a Medical Assistant do?

Medical assistants perform routine administrative, clinical, and laboratory tasks to keep the physician’s office running smoothly. Some of the responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Perform administrative duties such as: billing and coding, insurance claims filing, authorization, referrals
  • Participate in Emergency Preparedness
  • Assist with risk management, Continuity of Care, Quality Assurance
  • Prepare patients for various examinations and treatments, obtain vital signs, and perform EKGs
  • Give injections and instruct patients about medications
  • Clean instruments, order supplies, and maintain treatment rooms
  • Schedule appointments, answer telephones, and greet and dismiss patients
  • Obtain blood specimen for analysis using venipuncture and finger stick techniques
  • Perform lab tests on specimens (urinalysis, complete blood count, blood chemistries, etc.) as ordered by physicians
  • Assist with minor surgery, apply bandages and dressings
  • Maintain patients' records
  • Take x-rays of chest and extremities
  • Assist in patient education, serve as a patient navigator

Occupational Risks

Medical Assisting is a profession with many rewards, as practitioners can perform both administrative and clinical services, filling several roles in a variety of healthcare environments. The Bureau of Labor Statistics clearly outlines that it is a growth field, with an anticipated 18% growth from 2020 to 2030.

Medical Assistants work directly with providers and patients, with the goal of providing healthcare and ensuring patient safety. It is a position with a great deal of responsibility.

As with any healthcare position, there are certain occupational risks that come into play with being a medical assistant, and those hazards include the following:

  • Exposure to infectious diseases
  • Sharps injuries (example: needle sticks)
  • Bloodborne pathogens and biological hazards
  • Chemical and drug exposure
  • Ergonomic hazards from lifting, sitting, and repetitive tasks
  • Latex allergies
  • Mental and physical stress

At the same time, there are protections set up with the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), and those protections are particularly important within a healthcare environment. OSHA has a series of standards that protect the safety of healthcare workers and patients.

​Accredited medical assisting programs are required to teach students about the hazards that they face on the job and the protocols that can be put into place to ensure a workplace culture that prioritizes safety.

How long is the Medical Assistant Program at DMACC?

The program begins each fall. It may be completed over the course of one (1) year if taken as a full time student or may be taken part-time over two (2) years.

What time of day are classes offered?

​This program requires courses that are offered during daytime hours and cannot be completed online or in the evening.

Graduates of the DMACC Medical Assistant Program are eligible to sit for the National Certification Exam to become a certified medical assistant – CMA(AAMA). Graduates of the program are also eligible to sit for the State of Iowa Limited Radiography Permit.

The Des Moines Area Community College Medical Assisting Program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs ( upon the recommendation of Medical Assisting Education Review Board (MAERB).”

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
9355 113th Street N., #7709, Seminole, FL 33775