Medical Assistant vs. CNA: How to Choose the Right Path For You

Are you interested in the medical field but do not want to attend years of medical school? Perhaps becoming a Medical Assistant (MA) or a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) may be the right path for you. While there are many similarities between these two fields, it is important to understand their differences when pursuing a new career.

What is the Difference Between an MA and a CNA?

A Medical Assistant is a professional who handles the administrative and/or clinical duties that are typically associated with doctor’s offices, hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities. Many MAs work in the office areas and in-patient treatment areas.

Certified Nursing Assistants, often called nursing aides, are responsible for providing basic care to patients at various types of healthcare facilities. Tasks include bathing, moving, repositioning bedridden patients, and monitoring the vital signs of the individuals they care for. It is generally a physically demanding job.

What are the Responsibilities of the CNA?

There are many duties for Certified Nursing Assistants. CNAs work directly with patients and nurses, helping with the many physical tasks for patient care.  CNA responsibilities vary by state and medical facility; however, most CNA job responsibilities include:

  • Bathing patients
  • Feeding and documenting patient’s food and liquid intake
  • Checking vital signs such as blood pressure and heart rate
  • Answering patient calls
  • Assisting with some medical procedures
  • Transporting patients
  • Taking care of wounds

What are the Responsibilities of the MA?

Medical Assistants are tasked with responsibilities that can be classified as administrative and clinica. Some of those duties may include:

Administrative Tasks

  • Scheduling patient appointments
  • Managing hospital inpatient and outpatient admissions
  • Scheduling lab services for patients
  • Recordkeeping Organization
  • Managing medical coding and billing

Clinical Tasks

  • Preparing examination rooms for patients before seeing the doctor
  • Explaining treatment procedures to patients
  • Performing basic laboratory tests and preparatory tasks
  • Administering medications and injections

Both the administrative and clinical roles require professionals to possess excellent recordkeeping skills, the ability to use and understand technology, a good eye for detail, and strong analytical prowess. MAs need to have strong customer service skills when working directly with patients.

If becoming a Medical Assistant sounds like the career path for you, great news, the field is growing, and training is readily available.

What is the Job Outlook for Medical Assistants?

Much like other healthcare jobs, the demand for MAs is quite high. the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) May 2020 Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics, the average annual salary of a medical assistant is $36,930. Jobs in this field are expected to grow 19% through 2029, which is almost four times faster than the average growth rate.

People who become MAs will also gain keen insight and knowledge of the medical fields in which they work. They can build upon this knowledge should they decide to pursue other healthcare and medical job opportunities.

What Training and Certifications are Needed to Become an MA in Virginia?

Most MAs pursue certification after graduating from high school, as better earning potential comes with training and certification.

Centura College offers 12-month* programs where students can earn their Medical Assistant Diploma. We understand our students often need the flexibility to balance home and work responsibilities with school, so we offer both day and evening programs at our Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Newport News, and Richmond campuses. Our programs prepare students to take the AMT and RMA examinations to become Registered Medical Assistants.

*Program completion time is based on a full-time student schedule.

To learn more about how we can help you to achieve your dreams in this exciting and growing area of healthcare, contact us.

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