The Medical Assistant program began in 1967 as a one-year diploma program at Center One in West Des Moines. Two students were initially enrolled in the spring term. In the fall quarter the enrollment was 24.
The program goals were to prepare students to work in physician's offices and clinics to perform administrative and clinical procedures. The program continues to educate students with latest technology while incorporating the skills needed for the ever increasing responsibilities of the Certified Medical Assistant in ambulatory settings.
The program was first accredited in 1972 by the American Medical Assistant Association (AAMA) and received continuing accreditation in 1978, 1987, 1994, 2002 and 2011. It was one of the first medical assistant programs in the United States to achieve national accreditation. Graduates of the program are highly successful in obtaining the gold standard certification of the CMA (AAMA). Many past graduates are employed as clinic managers and clinical supervisors. Additionally some graduates work in the corporate areas of healthcare organizations.
The first instructor in the program was Lois Charter, RN. Margaret Rowe, CLT, who later became the first faculty member in the Medical Laboratory program, assisted in providing laboratory instruction. Shirley Mulenthalter, RN, became program chair and instructor in the fall of 1967 and continued that role until her retirement in 1992. Leona Marten, CLA, joined the faculty in the fall of 1968. She earned her certification CMA (AAMA) while teaching lab and administrative courses in the program. She continued in that role until 1977.
An active advisory committee played a key role in developing the curriculum and promoting the program and graduates to physicians in the central Iowa area. Several members served in this capacity for more than 10 years.
In the early 1980's the medical assistant programs of Iowa were selected to offer programs in limited radiography to meet employer needs. Today DMACC is the only community college medical assistant program to still offer this course as a component of a one-year diploma program.
Interesting anecdotes from the first year occurred because the temporary campus, a former grocery store, was remodeled using room partitions with a considerable gap between the top of the partition and the wall. The male students of an adjoining marketing program would frequently toss notes over the wall to the female medical assistant students.
Additionally, after the first year, a portable trailer was converted into a typing classroom to supplement the number of stations required for students in several programs to have access to typewriters. By this time the occupants of the temporary campus building was predominately female. To better accommodate the group over the noon hour, the men's restroom was appropriated for female use. A female student stood post at the door to prevent any embarrassing situations by both male and female students.
The program is one of three with the greatest longevity at DMACC. Today graduates of the DMACC Medical Assistant Program are in very high demand.