ANKENY, Iowa — When you visit the doctor’s office, chances are you meet with medical assistants before your physician.

They bridge the relationship between you and your physician.

That is why Des Moines Area Community College is bridging the shortage of medical assistants.

“We’re in the middle of an assisting medical crisis,” DMACC medical assistant program chair Stacey Schroder said. “We’ve got an extreme shortage of medical assistants right here in the greater Des Moines area.”

Schroder said there are about 200 job openings in Des Moines and even 600 statewide.

Medical assistants only work in clinics. They can perform minor procedures, and injections and prepare patients for exams to administrative duties.

The medical assisting program at DMACC takes a year for full-time students and two years for part-time students to complete.

The college created a small lab where students can get hands-on and real-life experience.

Schroder said the college offers unique learning experiences to students.

“We also offer limited radiography within our program,” the DMACC professor said. “So then when the graduates go out, they are actually able to take x-rays of chests and extremities.”

She said DMACC is the only college that offers it.

Shortly after they complete their education and ten-week practicum, they already have a job.

Schroder said graduates can move up within their jobs.

“They make a great candidate for those higher positions. We also see some of the medical assistants going into the physician assistant program.”

DMACC is currently enrolling for the Fall. Starting March 1, summer registration opens up. To learn more about the program you can go here.

Students can graduate with little to no debt if they apply for the Iowa Last Dollar Scholarship.