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If you are pursuing a career in healthcare, you have to think about what kind of job you are interested in obtaining. While each healthcare position has its benefits and unique qualities, the most common jobs are medical assistants and nursing assistants. Although both of these jobs can be fulfilling, they require unique skill sets that make them different from one another.
To determine which job is right for you, consider what your priorities and preferences may be and how those measure up to the requirements and responsibilities of each position. It’s also important to remember that both vocational fields offer fantastic career opportunities with solid prospects. With this in mind, let’s look at some of the key differences between these two positions.
Medical Assistant vs. Certified Nursing Assistant: Definition
What is a Medical Assistant?
Medical assistants are responsible for performing both clinical and administrative tasks for physicians and their teams. Medical assistants might assist case managers and schedule appointments when working directly with patients. They may also perform administrative work such as filing, answering phones, and maintaining billing records.
What is a Nursing Assistant?
Nursing Assistants provide patients with primary care and help them perform regular day-to-day activities. Most CNAs work in hospitals or nursing and residential care facilities. Because their job is physically active, they should help lift or move patients. Nursing assistants may help with bathing patients, feeding them, helping them get dressed or undressed, and attending to various medical equipment.
Medical Assistant vs Nursing Assistant: Job Description
What Does a Medical Assistant Do?
Medical assistants can be found working in a variety of specialties. Some familiar places where medical assistants work in clinic settings, doctors’ offices, and hospitals. In addition to administrative and clinical daily activities, many people who hold this job have opportunities for advancement. Some medical assistants choose to pursue higher education and become certified technicians or even complete their degree as a Registered Nurse (RN).
Some medical assistants specialize in certain types of tasks, such as those who work in a specific specialty such as psychiatry, oncology, or pediatrics. In addition to providing direct patient care, medical assistants may also manage the administrative affairs of the office and complete clerical tasks essential for operating a business.
What Does a Certified Nursing Assistant Do?
Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) provide primary care and help patients perform their day-to-day activities. Most CNAs work in hospitals or nursing care facilities. Their job is physically active, so they should help lift or move patients. Some nursing assistants may help with bathing patients, feeding them, helping them get dressed or undressed, and attending to various medical equipment.
CNAs often have opportunities for promotion within their company. After gaining more experience, some nurses choose to become charge nurses responsible for supervising other CNAs on the floor and ensuring that all administrative paperwork is completed accurately and efficiently. Other CNAs decide to pursue additional education and training towards becoming RN Nurse Anesthetists. A Nurse Anesthetist provides services for surgeries under the guidance of a doctor or dentist.
Medical Assistant vs Nursing Assistant: Job Responsibilities
Medical Assistant Responsibilities
Some of the day-to-day medical tasks of a Medical Assistant include:
- Keeping a record of patient history and personal information
- Measuring vital signs (such as blood pressure and temperature)
- Providing assistance to physicians during patient examinations
- Administration of injections or medications to patients as directed by physicians and as permitted by state law
- Appointment scheduling for patients
- Getting blood samples ready for lab tests
- Adding patient information to their medical records
Certified Nursing Assistant Responsibilities
There is a variety of tasks for a Certified Nursing Assistant which includes:
- Taking care of patients’ hygiene and bathing
- Assisting patients with toileting and dressing
- Repositioning, turning and transferring patients between beds and wheelchairs
- Recording and reporting patients’ health concerns to nurses
- Taking patients’ vital signs, such as their blood pressure and temperature
- Providing meals to patients and assisting them with their eating
- Dispensing medication (depending on location and training)
Where Do Medical Assistants Work?
Specific settings may be more common than others when it comes to the actual location where medical assistants work. For example, many assistants work in physician’s offices or clinics, but you can also find them working at hospitals and other types of healthcare facilities.
Where Do Certified Nursing Assistants Work?
The nursing assistants usually are employed in hospitals or nursing care facilities. Also, some work with patients who are being released from the hospital to help them transition back into their homes and are called home health aides.
Medical Assistant vs Nursing Assistant
When it comes to the education required for both careers, you have to consider the following details because each job has its unique requirements to get hired.
Educational Requirements for Medical Assistants
Most medical assistants graduate from postsecondary education programs. But some of them, especially those who work in physician’s offices and clinics, only need a high school diploma or GED.
There are numerous postsecondary medical assistant programs available to choose from, including community colleges, vocational schools, and universities.
Some of the courses included in these programs include anatomy & physiology, office practices, transcription skills, medical terminology, customer service skills, clinical experience with patients/physicians assistance), medical billing & coding procedures, ethical & legal responsibilities in the healthcare setting), EKG machines operations), CPR certification training (for some states & employers), etc.
Education Requirements for Certified Nursing Assistants
The educational requirements for CNAs differ by state or where you live. For example, some states require a certified nursing assistant to have an associate degree. In addition, most employers prefer their CNA hires to have completed vocational school training courses in the medical field. Also, the certification requirements are different.
Medical Assistant vs Nursing Assistant: Average Salaries
Medical Assistant Salaries
According to Payscale, the following are the details for the average annual salary for medical assistants.
- An entry-level Medical Assistant with less than 1-year of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation (includes tips, bonus, and overtime pay) of $14.08 based on 1,538 salaries.
- An early career Medical Assistant with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $14.99 based on 9,127 salaries.
- A mid-career Medical Assistant with 5-9 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $16.43 based on 5,999 salaries.
- An experienced Medical Assistant with 10-19 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $17.34 based on 5,877 salaries.
- In their late-career (20 years and higher), the salary potential for them is $18.
Certified Nursing Assistant Salaries
According to Payscale, the following are the details for the average annual salary for certified nursing assistants.
- An entry-level Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) with less than 1-year experience can expect to earn an average total compensation (includes tips, bonus, and overtime pay) of $12.51 based on 1,887 salaries.
- An early career Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $12.97 based on 13,790 salaries.
- A mid-career Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) with 5-9 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $13.61 based on 9,551 salaries.
- An experienced Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) with 10-19 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $14.21 based on 13,040 salaries.
- In their late-career (20 years and higher), employees earn an average total compensation of $15.
Job Growth Differences
When it comes to job growth, the following are the details that you should consider.
- According to BLS, the expected job growth for CNAs between 2019 and 2029 is 8%.
- According to BLS, the expected job growth for medical assistants between 2019 and 2029 is 19%, which is much faster than average.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s move to some faqs to help you more about this topic.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Medical Assistant?
Getting an MA diploma usually takes one year or less because you can get a certificate within 1-2 years. And then, you will need to pass the certification in every state, which may take two years. So effectively, we can say it takes almost two years to become a medical assistant by diploma and another one year for certification in every state.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Certified Nursing Assistant?
The nursing assistants need to pass the state exam, and in the USA, there are more than 500 different exams. So that means you might have to spend more time and money to pass the test and become a CNA. Because every state board has additional requirements and tests, it may be challenging to say how long it will take.
What is the Difference Between a Certified Nursing Assistant and a Medical Assistant?
The medical assistant’s primary job is to help doctors and other health care professionals with their administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments, filing insurance documents, and taking patient histories. The CNA provides personal assistance with daily living activities such as feeding, bathing, dressing, and taking vital signs like blood pressure and temperature. They also give emotional support to the patients and families during hospital stays or end-of-life care.
Medical Assistant: Is This Job Right for Me?
Suppose you’re looking for an entry-level position in a healthcare field where most companies prefer you have some knowledge and certifications. In that case, a medical assistant can be an excellent choice. It requires you to build your knowledge, and the best way to do this is by enrolling in a school to take some classes.
Why Is a Certified Nursing Assistant a Great Alternative Career Path for Medical Assistants?
CNAs make a difference in the life of a patient and their families. The patient who has been sick for a long time and needs rehabilitation will be extremely happy to see someone taking the initiative to provide them with their basic needs, such as bringing food or reporting their health conditions to the doctor.
In conclusion, CNAs need extra training and certification from the state board of nursing or an institution to work in a medical facility as CNAs. MA’s do not require any specific education but only a proper high school diploma, and then some certification is required depending on states’ requirements.
The Choice Is Yours
Above you have all the details at your fingertips, and now it’s your call to take! So that’s it for now. I hope you have liked this article Medical Assistant vs. Nursing Assistant will help you choose the best career for yourself, don’t forget to share it with your friends.