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Medical Assistant vs Registered Nurse

What is the Difference Between a Medical Assistant and an RN

Medical Assistant vs RNThe field of healthcare has so many facets that there are ample job opportunities for individuals of all educational backgrounds, interests, skills, and abilities. If you are ready to enter the healthcare field, you may be having a tough time choosing between the various career options. Should you become a medical assistant or a registered nurse? While both careers allow you the opportunity to contribute to patient care and well-being, there are some substantial differences between the two careers that you should be aware of before you make a decision.

Training Requirements

There are many differences between the education and training requirements for a medical assistant and a registered nurse. Some states and employers will provide on-the-job training for medical assistants, but in most cases, it is necessary to complete an accredited training program through a traditional or online school. This is especially important if you wish to become certified or registered after graduation. Medical assistant training programs typically take around one year to complete at minimum and involve a combination of book classes, hands-on training, and an internship or externship.

To become a registered nurse, you must complete an accredited nursing program, which cannot be completed entirely online. Training takes around two years to complete and can be taken through most colleges, universities, and some technical schools. Nursing programs consist of book study as well as various clinical experiences and are more in-depth than medical assistant training. Upon completion of the program, nursing candidates must pass the NCLEX to become licensed to work.

Duties and Responsibilities

Although both medical assistants and registered nurses share some similarities in job duties and responsibilities, there are some major differences between the two careers. Medical assistants work under the direct supervision of registered nurses or physicians and assist with a variety of tests and procedures. In addition, medical assistants are often responsible for collecting and recording patient histories, maintaining records, taking vital signs, and providing patient instructions. They may also be responsible for a number of administrative tasks such as answering phones, scheduling appointments, performing billing functions, managing inventory, and more.

Registered nurses normally focus exclusively on patient care with a minimum of administrative duties. They work under the supervision of a physician and only perform care as directed by the physician in charge. While registered nurses follow doctors’ orders, they are also responsible for writing patient care plans. The only administrative duties required of registered nurses is writing care plans and documenting patient vital signs, condition, and treatments.

Employment & Salary

As with most healthcare careers, both medical assistants and registered nurses are in high demand and are expected to see above average career growth over the coming years. Medical assistants typically work in physicians’ offices, clinics, ambulatory care, and similar facilities, while registered nurses may work in these settings as well as long-term care, nursing homes, and hospitals. There are also some substantial differences in earning potential between the two careers. The average salary for a medical assistant is around $30,000 a year while the salary average for a registered nurse is between $47,000 and $69,000 a year. This difference in salary is understandable when you consider that registered nurses are more accountable for patient care and health. In addition, registered nurses are often required to work long hours, nontraditional schedules, and often rotating shifts. Medical assistants, on the other hand, typically enjoy a traditional workday with nights and weekends off.

While both the medical assisting and the registered nurse career fields are full of promise and have much to offer, they are vastly different in many ways. Before making a career choice, it is important to consider all facets of your potential careers to be sure that the one you choose is perfect for you.