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CNA vs Medical Assistant

By Edited Jun 22, 2014 0 0

Working in the medical field is always a great course of action because people will always get sick, have babies, die and need medical attention in some way.  Becoming an RN or physician takes a lot of time and if you are broke and need a new career quickly then you will probably be debating between CNA vs medical assistant.

Most people don't know what the difference is between a CNA and a medical assistant and so choosing which one to spend your time and money on can be difficult.  That's why I'm going to take some time and go over the differences for you.  Keep in mind that both jobs vary state to state and can vary based on where you get the job, but overall this is a good breakdown.

Medical Assistant-What it Takes and What You'll Do

A medical assistant or frequently called an MA usually requires more schooling and not every state has a certification exam, so once you complete the school you can just start applying.  Usually MA's go to school for 2-3 semesters at a local community college or to a private institution for about a year.  The pay depends a lot on the area but can range from 9-14/starting.

A very big difference between an MA and CNA is that an MA works under the license of a physician, meaning they are overseen by the doctor that is on shift and a CNA works under an RN or in some states a LPN or RN.  This means that a great majority of MA's work in doctor's offices and clinics.  Your main duties will usually be taking preliminary patient information such as weight, blood pressure, temperature and medical history.  Then you'll usually be the one who finishes and files the chart after the doctor has seen the patient.

CNA-What's Your Job Requirements

As for a CNA the work and schooling varies a lot based on your state and where you get a job.  Every state requires you to take some sort of approved training course.  Some states require as little as 120 hours and some double that which means the length of the course will be different depending on your state.  Overall most CNA programs run 4-12 weeks and will cover classroom work and hands on clinical training.  

CNA's are hired at a lot of different places including long-term care facilities, rehab centers, nursing homes, hospital's and clinic's.  However, in most areas the common place to be hired is at a long-term care facility or hospital and each place will require very different responsibilities.

At a long-term care facility a CNA will most likely be in charge of changing diapers, changing sheets, helping patients in and out of bed, entertaining them, helping feed them if they are unable, etc.  This is the most common and also the hardest job to work as a CNA.

At a hospital it will depend a lot on what floor or ward you are in.  So if you are in the ER you will probably be in charge of taking blood pressure, temp, and assistant the nurse in patient care.  If you get on the surgical ward, you may assist in surgery, help wheel patients from prep, to the OR, to recovery and then give them what they need such as fluids or food.  In the cancer ward you will probably help patients get ready and take them to and from chemo.  You may be in charge of cleaning up after the drugs make them puke or entertain them while they are receiving treatments and so on.

Also with a CNA you can often apply your CNA to reduce the amount of school you need for an RN or LPN.  So if you're final route is one of those then I would highly suggest you go for your CNA.

If you are seriously considering becoming either of these then I would highly suggest you put a lot of research into it in your area.  Look at what jobs are available out there, what they pay, and if they have any special requirements.  If there is a specific place you want to work then call their HR department and ask what they prefer, CNA vs Medical Assistant training.  I would even look and keep track of the jobs over a month or two to see how high a demand each one is in for your area. 



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