CNA vs Medical Assistant

Thinking about a healthcare career but not sure which path to choose: CNA vs MA? Let's explore two options: Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and Medical Assistant (MA). While both involve patient care, they have differences. In this blog, we'll compare CNA and MA training, job duties, and career prospects to help you decide.
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Let’s start with a quick look at what CNAs and MAs do:

  • Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA): CNAs help patients with daily tasks in places like hospitals and nursing homes. They do tasks like bathing and taking vital signs.
  • Medical Assistant (MA): MAs work in medical offices and do various tasks, from scheduling appointments to assisting with medical exams.

Now, let’s compare CNA and MA training and roles.

CNA Training

  • Length: 4 to 12 weeks, depending on your location and the program.
  • Coursework: Covers basic nursing skills, infection control, anatomy, patient rights, and communication.
  • Clinical Experience: Hands-on training in a healthcare setting under nurse supervision.
  • Certification: You’ll need to pass a state competency exam to become a certified nursing assistant.


Medical Assistant Training

  • Length: Can vary from 9 months to 2 years, depending on the program type and full-time or part-time status.
  • Coursework: Covers medical terminology, anatomy, pharmacology, office procedures, billing, coding, and clinical skills.
  • Clinical Experience: Hands-on training through clinical externships.
  • Certification: While not always required, many employers prefer certified Medical Assistants, with CMA and RMA certifications.


Requirements to Become a CNA

  • Education: High school diploma or GED.
  • Age: Most states need CNAs to be at least 18 years old.
  • Background Check: Criminal background check is mandatory for patient safety.
  • Health Screening: Some programs need a physical exam for physical fitness.


Requirements to Become a Medical Assistant

  • Education: High school diploma or GED.
  • Age: Generally, there’s no specific age need for becoming a Medical Assistant.
  • Background Check: Background checks depending on the employer’s policy.
  • Health Screening: Some programs may need a physical examination to ensure students are fit for the role.


CNA Duties

  • Help with daily tasks like bathing, dressing, and feeding patients.
  • Record vital signs, such as blood pressure, temperature, and pulse.
  • Turn and move patients to prevent bedsores.
  • Assist patients with moving around.
  • Support nurses with medical procedures.
  • Offer emotional support to patients and their families.


MA Duties

  • Record patient medical histories and vital signs.
  • Help with patient exams and procedures.
  • Give medications under a doctor’s guidance.
  • Conduct basic lab tests and collect specimens.
  • Manage patient records and appointment scheduling.
  • Assist with medical billing and coding.


Job Opportunities

  • CNA: Hospitals, nursing homes, home healthcare, etc.
  • MA: Medical offices, clinics, hospitals, etc.


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Why Choose Medical Assistant Training?

  • Medical Assistant training gives you a wider range of skills compared to CNA training.
  • Medical Assistants can work in both administrative and clinical positions.
  • Getting certified as a Medical Assistant can improve job prospects and lead to higher earnings.


Why Choose CNA Training?

  • CNAs can care for patients every day, impacting their well-being.
  • CNA training is usually shorter than Medical Assistant programs.
  • CNAs can work in various healthcare settings, from hospitals to long-term care facilities.


Final Thoughts

Whether you opt for CNA or Medical Assistant training depends on your preferences and career goals. Think about the level of patient interaction, the skills you want to get, and potential for growth.

For those leaning toward Medical Assistant training, it’s vital to find accredited programs in your area. One excellent option is the CCI Training Center. They offer comprehensive training with hands-on experience, seasoned instructors, and career support to help you thrive.

Keep in mind, whether you choose CNA or Medical Assistant, both are vital to healthcare, impacting patients’ lives every day.

Written By

Martin Zandi

A committed leader in the career education industry, Martin enjoys working with the community and colleagues in further improvement and expansion of education programs to improve outcomes.

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