Medical Assistant vs CNA
What are the Differences between a Medical Assistant and a CNA?
The healthcare field offers a world of opportunities, all of which are important. Most of the positions deal with direct patient care, making it difficult at times to know the difference between roles. Both medical assistants and certified nursing assistants provide direct patient care to patients of all ages and needs. Both professionals provide assistance with tests, procedures, and treatments, and both require the proper training and credentials. However, the work of a medical assistant is very different from that of a certified nursing assistant. While a nursing assistant provides more assistance with basic patient needs, such as mobility assistance and hygiene services, a medical assistant works more toward assessing and evaluating patients and assisting physicians with the treatment and care of patients.
In order to become a medical assistant, candidates must complete around one to two years of training through an accredited traditional or online medical assisting program. Students may choose to train as administrative assistants, clinical assistants, or generalists. During training, aspiring medical assistants learn through a combination of bookwork, hands-on experience, and clinical experience through an internship or externship.
On the other hand, those wishing to become certified nursing assistants can complete training through programs that last between six weeks and several months, depending upon the program. Training may be available online or through a traditional program and will include patient documentation and safety, systematic instruction for the specific duties of the position, and completion of required clinical time.
Duties and Responsibilities
Medical assistants perform a wide variety of duties in physician’s offices, clinics, and other healthcare facilities. These duties may involve collecting patient medical histories as well as allergies and medication lists. They also often perform initial physical examinations, take patient vital signs, and assist the physician in performing a number of procedures and tests. In addition, many medical assistants perform a number of administrative duties such as documenting patient care, completing patient charts, answering phones, performing billing services, making appointments, managing inventory, and more. Finally, medical assistants may be responsible for cleaning, sanitizing, and stocking rooms in preparation for the physician.
The job duties of a certified nursing assistant are vastly different. Typical responsibilities of a nursing assistant involve tracking intake and output of patients, assisting with physical activity and walking, and taking preventative measures to reduce pressure ulcers and other preventable issues. In addition, they often report patient condition to nurses, assist with minor procedures, and monitor patient safety. Many of the responsibilities of a certified nursing assistant are directly related to a patient’s daily living needs.
Employment & Salary
Medical assistants are in high demand in a number of facilities, including physician’s offices, urgent care centers, and clinics. In these jobs, medical assistants typically work with patients of all ages, backgrounds, and physical conditions. Medical assistants may also fine employment in specialized practices including oncology, pediatrics, or obstetrics. While the salary of a medical assistant may vary greatly from one location to another and depending upon position, the average salary for medical assistants across the country is around $30,000.
While there is also a high demand for certified nursing assistants, the available positions tend to be less varied and include facilities such as rehabilitation centers, hospitals, and nursing homes. In these positions, nursing assistants provide direct patient care and assistance, allowing other healthcare providers the time to provide skilled care and services. As with medical assistants, the salary of a certified nursing assistant may vary from one position to another, but the national average is around $24,000 annually.
While medical assistants and certified nursing assistants both play an important role in providing quality healthcare, there are some vital differences in the training, responsibilities, and job opportunities provided by each profession. Before you choose the career that is right for you, it is important to make sure the career you pick best fits your skills and interests.