You’ve probably heard of Medical assistants and certified nurse assistants (CNAs), but what’s the difference between the two?
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The main difference between CNAs and Medical Assistants is their job duties. CNAs mainly provide direct patient care, while medical assistants perform both clinical and administrative tasks. Both occupations require completing a brief training program and passing a certification exam, but medical assistants usually need to have a high school diploma or equivalent whereas no formal education is required to become a CNA.
Training and education
While both CNAs and medical assistants are crucial members of the healthcare team, there are some key differences between the two roles. Perhaps the most significant difference is in the training and education required for each position.
CNAs must complete an accredited certification program, which typically takes between 6 and 12 weeks. The program includes both classroom instruction and clinical experience. Once they have completed the program, CNAs must pass a state-administered competency exam before they can begin working.
Medical assistants, on the other hand, typically have more formal education, completing either a one-year certificate program or a two-year associate’s degree at a community college or vocational school. Some medical assistants also choose to earn certification through organizations such as the American Association of Medical Assistants or the National Healthcare Association.
While both roles involve working closely with patients, CNAs typically perform more hands-on care tasks such as bathing and dressing patients, while medical assistants are responsible for clerical tasks such as scheduling appointments and updating patient records. In some cases, medical assistants may also be trained to perform basic clinical tasks such as taking vital signs or drawing blood.
There are a few key ways in which medical assistants and CNAs (certified nursing assistants) differ. Firstly, medical assistants generally have more responsibilities related to direct patient care than CNAs. Secondly, medical assistants usually possess more clinical training than CNAs. Finally, while both CNAs and medical assistants must be licensed in most states, only CNAs are certified by a national organization.
Medical assistants and CNAs (certified nursing assistants) both work in hospital settings, but their duties and responsibilities are quite different. CNAs provide basic patient care, such as bathing, dressing and feeding patients. They also take vital signs and collect patient medical history information. Medical assistants, on the other hand, perform administrative and clinical tasks. They may schedule appointments, take medical histories, prepare patients for examinations and assist physicians during examinations. They also may handle laboratory work, such as collecting urine and blood samples for testing.
While both CNAs and medical assistants are important members of the healthcare team, their salaries reflect the different nature of their work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a CNA was $28,530 in 2019, while the median annual salary for a medical assistant was $34,800.
The job outlook for both CNAs and medical assistants is good. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of medical assistants is expected to grow 23 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. The job outlook for CNAs is also positive, with the BLS predicting a 11 percent growth in employment from 2019 to 2029.
Pros and cons
There are many differences between a CNA and a medical assistant but the most important difference is the scope of their respective duties. CNAs are primarily responsible for providing basic patient care, while medical assistants have a more expansive range of responsibilities that include both patient care and administrative tasks.
One of the main advantages of working as a CNA is that it requires significantly less training than becoming a medical assistant CNAs can complete their training in as little as six weeks, while medical assistants typically need to complete an accredited program that takes several months to complete. As a result, CNAs tend to be able to find employment more quickly than medical assistants.
However, medical assistants earn significantly more than CNAs. Medical assistants typically earn between $30,000 and $40,000 per year, while CNAs typically earn between $20,000 and $30,000 per year. In addition, medical assistants generally have more opportunities for advancement than CNAs. For instance, some medical assistants may eventually become licensed practical nurses or even registered nurses.
At the most basic level, the main difference between CNAs and medical assistants is that CNAs typically work in long-term care facilities assisting residents with their activities of daily living while medical assistants generally work in clinics and hospitals performing both clinical and administrative duties. However, there is some overlap between the two roles and it’s not uncommon for CNAs to also perform some medical assistant tasks or for medical assistants to provide personal care to patients.