Iowa Medical Assistant Guide

Career Description

Medical assistants in Iowa are an integral component of the state’s healthcare system.  They assists other healthcare providers, primarily nurses (RNs and LPNs) and doctors (MDs and DOs).  A typical medical assistant’s day might consist of the following:

Pre-Care Responsibilities:

  • Call patients with upcoming appointments
  • Pull charts from files
  • Welcome patients

During-Care Responsibilities

  • Review medical histories with patients
  • Draw blood and give patients shots
  • Assist as needed during exams
  • Check vital signs

Post-Care Responsibilities

  • Review aftercare with patients
  • Schedule next appointment

How to Become a Certified Medical Assistant in Iowa

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      Medical assistants can legally work in Iowa without being certified, but they might have trouble finding employment.  Most healthcare providers will only hire certified medical assistants.  There are several agencies that provide adequate certification.

      Of these organizations, the AAMA has the strongest presence in Iowa.  Here is how to become a certified medical assistant with the AAMA.

      First: Go to Class

      Many schools in Iowa offer medical assistant courses, but only those that are accredited by the AAMA will be sufficient for certification.  Most people will be able to find a course nearby at a local community college or adult-training center.  If a convenient one cannot be found, there are also online courses (these still require a clinical internship).  Before paying tuition, students should confirm accreditation with the AAMA.

      Second: Apply for the Test and Scholarship

      Prior to sitting for the CMA test, applicants must show they have met the prerequisite (which is taking a CMA training class).  The application is located on the AAMA’s website.  It should be downloaded, completed and mailed in with the appropriate payment.

      Students who are at least a 25 percent of the way through a CMA curriculum can also apply for the Maxine Williams Scholarship.  This scholarship is awarded to CMA students, and it is based on academic merit and financial need.  It includes a $1,000 award and a one-year membership to the AAMA.  For more information, students should email the AAMA.

      Third:  Contact a Testing Center

      Applicants will be notified by email of their approved application (within 20 days of approval).  This email will contain a testing permit, which allows applicants to take the CMA exam.  They have 90 days to schedule the test, which can be taken at any local testing center.

      Fourth:  Study for the Test

      Students should feel comfortable with their knowledge by now, but constant review is necessary.  People who do not study and fail to take practice exams jeopardize themselves.  Materials can be obtained through a training center or local CMA chapter (see below).

      Fifth: Pass and Be Certified

      After passing the exam, people are listed as a certified medical assistant on the CMA Status Section of the AAMA’s website.

      Career Forecast for CMAs in Iowa

      United States

      Employment

      Percent
      Change

      Job Openings 1

      2010

      2020

      Medical Assistants

      527,600

      690,400

      +31%

      24,380

      Iowa

      Employment

      Percent
      Change

      Job Openings 1

      2008

      2018

      Medical Assistants

      3,030

      3,910

      +29%

      120

      1Job Openings refers to the average annual job openings due to growth and net replacement.

      (Credit: CareerOneStop.org)

      The growth rate for CMAs in Iowa is just slightly lower than that for CMAs in all of the United States.  Nevertheless, a 29 percent growth in 10 years is much better than many other occupations.  This increase in demand for CMAs throughout Iowa should result in about 120 open positions each year.

      Salary Forecast for CMAs in Iowa

      The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) latest data shows that CMAs earn a fair wage, especially for not needing an expensive college education.  Throughout the state, the median wage for a CMA in Iowa during 2011 was just over $14.00 an hour, or around $29,500 a year.  Of course, some made more and others less.  CMAs in Council Bluffs, IA made an average salary of $29,670 in 2011, but many CMAs working in DeMoines, IA made more than $33,000.

      Transfer and Recertify

      CMAs must go through the recertification steps, which are listed here, every five years.  This process, along with transferring between states is handled by the AAMA.  To begin a transfer, CMAs should contact their local chapter (see next heading).

      Local Chapters and Sate Organization

      The Iowa State of Medical Assistants is the AAMA’s organization in Iowa.  Their website is full of helpful resources for CMAs in Iowa.  Membership costs $86 annually ($20 for students), but the organization provides discounts on recertification and other costs.

      There are several local AAMA chapters in Iowa:

      • Area V
      • Ames Area
      • Des Moines
      • Linn
      • Mid Iowa
      • North Iowa
      • Northwest Iowa
      • Shoquoquon

      Further Reading and Sources: