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Development of the Medical Assistant Career in the U.S.

Medical assisting was an informal career until the mid-20th century.

Physicians have always had assistants to work with them. As they began to practice from offices, they hired medical assistants to handle administrative details and provide noninvasive services such as weighing and measuring patients. Training was provided on the job. (Mandl School of Allied Health)

In 1924, M.M. Mandl, a New York City high school biology teacher, formed The Mandl School for Doctor’s Assistants to train students to work in physician offices. Mandl realized that physicians needed staff who were trained to efficiently provide administrative services and routine medical services, something that was not provided by nursing schools. (Mandl School of Allied Health)

The school filled a key gap by training staff to assume administrative, managerial, and minor clinical roles, allowing physicians and nurses more time to focus on direct patient care. As an educator who worked with young adults, Mandl also recognized that a sound educational program needed to provide both intellectual development and encourage personal growth (Mandl School of Allied Health). (Mandl School of Allied Health)

In 1955, a medical assistant society in Kansas hosted a meeting with medical assistants from 15 other state societies to discuss establishing a national organization to represent and professionalize the job. They voted to create the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), which was formally established a year later (AAMA).

During the 1960s and 1970s, AAMA’s leadership focused on further professionalizing the medical assistant career. They established training and certification programs and worked with the American Medical Association to develop curriculum standards (AAMA).

In 1974, the U.S. Department of Education recognized a partnership between the AMA Council on Medical Education and the AAMA Program Approval Committee as an official accrediting agency for post-high school medical assisting programs. Three years later, an independent Committee on Allied Health Education and Accreditation assumed responsibility for accrediting medical assistant training programs (AAMA).

‘The History of the AAMA.” American Association of Medical Assistants. AAMA, 2010. Web. 8 Oct. 2010.

“Mandl History.” Mandl School of Allied Health. MSAH, 2010. Web. 8 Oct. 2010.

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