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Medical Assistant vs. Nursing Assistant

Medical Assistant vs. Nursing Assistant

CNAs and medical assistants may work in similar settings and perform similar tasks even if their level of education and their requirements for licensure or certification are different. A crucial difference between the two is that CNAs tend to provide bedside care to senescent patients, where medical assistants assist more with procedural or administrative preparation and housekeeping.
medical assistant
What is a Medical Assistant?

Medical assistants work alongside physicians, mainly in outpatient or ambulatory care facilities, such as medical offices and clinics. Medical assisting is one of the most in-demand careers in healthcare. In many states, medical assistants are not required to be licensed or certified, though becoming certified provides better job opportunities and higher earning potential. The position of an MA focuses on the medical care of the patient, as well as the administrative work. MA’s will administer injections, medications, and take the patients health information. MA’s will often perform office tasks as well as medical. They may gather patients information as they check in to be seen, and collect all insurance information from the patient.

Medical Assistants

Medical assistants are cross-trained to perform administrative and clinical duties. Here is a quick overview (duties vary from office to office depending on location, size, specialty, and state law):

Administrative Duties (may include, but not limited to):

  • Using computer applications

  • Answering telephones

  • Greeting patients

  • Updating and filing patient medical records

  • Coding and filling out insurance forms

  • Scheduling appointments

  • Arranging for hospital admissions and laboratory services

  • Handling correspondence, billing, and bookkeeping

Clinical Duties (may include, but not limited to):

  • Taking medical histories

  • Explaining treatment procedures to patients

  • Preparing patients for examination

  • Assisting the physician during exams

  • Collecting and preparing laboratory specimens

  • Performing basic laboratory tests

  • Instructing patients about medication and special diets

  • Preparing and administering medications as directed by a physician

  • Authorizing prescription refills as directed

  • Drawing blood

  • Taking electrocardiograms

  • Removing sutures and changing dressings


Top Five Reasons to Become a Medical Assistant

1. You’ll Have the Power of Knowledge

Medical assistant schooling covers a variety of skill sets, which opens more doors.

2. Your Skills are in High Demand

There are more job opportunities available for MAs than for CNAs in the current job market.

3. Choose the Field You’re Most Excited About

If you want to specialize in a particular area, MAs have more flexibility in choosing specialties.

4. No Two Days Are the Same

If you’re interested in both administration and patient care, medical assistants have the opportunity to get involved in both areas.

5. Rewards for your Hard Work

As a medical assistant, you’ll be paid more, but it’s important to recognize that both medical assistants and CNAs are entry-level jobs. In order to work your way up the ladder, you’ll need to complete further training.

What is a Certified Nursing Assistant?

A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is not the same as a medical assistant. The occupations both involve working with patients and collaborating with nurses and physicians in medical settings, but a CNA has much more specific duties. A CNA tends to take the role of caregiver to patients as well as help patients with medical needs. They often serve patients who need long term care and in need of help with basic hygiene maintenance. A CNA will also will tend to all bedside care of the elderly and can work in hospitals and nursing homes.


Duties of a CNA may include:

  • Test vital signs, order blood tests, take temperatures

  • Maintaining records of patient information

  • Care for disabled or anesthetized patients while they recover

  • Availability

Certified Nursing Assistant

A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) works under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN) to give personal, hands-on care to patients, residents, or clients. The CNA provides assistance with essential daily task such as dressing, eating, toileting, and personal hygiene. Thanks to CNAs, each patient receives individualized care that maintains the best possible quality of life. The benefit of becoming a CNA is the chance to start a long career in healthcare. An experienced CNA has a wide choice of work settings and can specialize in an area of medicine, such as hospice or home health or the CNA may decide to train as an LPN or RN.

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