HANCEVILLE, Ala. — When you have an appointment at your doctor’s office, before you ever see the doctor, you first see his medical assistant. The medical assistant registers you, puts information into the computer system, and prepares the record. Then they take your vital statistics (weight, heart rate, blood pressure, etc.,), notes any changes in your personal information and charts them for the doctor to review as he begins his exam.

The medical assistant also helps the physician during the exam, may give an injection if directed by the physician and prepare specimens in addition to performing lab tests and basic radiography. The medical assistant is often the last person you see as you leave the office, if you need to schedule your next appointment, and they file your insurance too.

With so much contact with the patient, a medical assistant must be able to put them at ease and explain the physician’s instruction, all the while ensuring the patient’s privacy in regards to their medical information.

Wallace State Community College’s Medical Assistant program prepares its students to perform these functions and more, as the demand for medical assistants is expected to increase by 29 percent between 2012 and 2022. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics states the “growth of the aging baby-boomer population will continue to spur demand for preventive medical services.” As physicians expand their practices to meet this need, medical assistants will be needed to perform the routine administrative and clinical issues, allowing physicians to see more patients.

The median annual salary for medical assistants was $29,960 nationwide as of May 2014, with the lowest 10 percent earning $21,540 and the highest 10 percent earning $42,760.

June 1 is the deadline for applications for the Fall 2015 semester. Applications received after that date will be considered. For more information about the Wallace State Medical Assistant program, contact program director Tracie Fuqua at 256.352.8321 or tracie.fuqua@wallacestate.edu.