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Training to Become a Medical Assistant vs. a CNA

So you’ve decided you wish to pursue a career in healthcare – congratulations! This is a field that offers a variety of opportunities. Now that you’ve decided that training for a career in healthcare is what you wish to pursue, the next step is selecting a specific path to take and obtaining the necessary education to get you started on the road to your new career. There are a variety of jobs and careers one may choose to pursue in the field of allied health and it can often be confusing to determine the differences between various occupations. For example, a student may ask “what is the difference between becoming a Medical Assistant versus becoming a CNA (Certified Nurse Aide)?” This is an important question, because there are a number of differences in these two occupations in terms of where they work, the duties they perform, and the requirements in order to enter the field under these titles. Below we’re going to explain some of the differences between becoming a Mecical Assistant versus becoming a CNA.

Where do Medical Assistants and CNA’s Work?

Both Medical Assistants and CNAs (once certified) can be found working in a variety of healthcare settings. For example, CNAs may be found working in long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities, home health care agencies, extended care facilities, and skilled nursing facilities. Medical Assistants, however, are most often found working in doctors offices and clinics. Some Medical Assistants may also be found working in hospitals. While some overlap may exist in terms of where Medical Assistants and CNAs work, a Medical Assistant will often have a broader skill set that may allow them to pursue additional employment opportunities.

What are the job duties that a Medical Assistant and a CNA perform?

Medical Assistants and CNAs both play a vital role in today’s healthcare system by providing direct patient care and assistance. For example, those working in both roles may have close physical contact with their patients, but the contact they have with their patients relative to the specific duties they perform may vary. Communication with their patients and the patient’s family is also imperative for those working in both roles. Duties that a Medical Assistant may perform (but a CNA would likely not perform) include blood draws, EKGs, monitoring and recording vital signs, and working with EMR systems.

Another one of the biggest differences in terms of the duties each perform is the type of patient they interact with on a daily basis. For CNAs, given the settings they are often found working in (see above) they most often work with the elderly and end-of-life patients. Those who are working as a Medical Assistant, however, could work with patients of all types depending upon the setting they are working within and their job assignment.

Are there other requirements to become a Medical Assistant or a CNA?

It’s always important to check any role or position that one may be pursuing to see if an employer requires any type of licensure or certification. In order to obtain employment as a CNA, one has to challenge and pass the State of Michigan Certified Nurse Aide Competency Evaluation, which allows them to be placed on the Michigan Nurse Aide Registry (that’s why they call it a “Certified” Nurse Aide). For a Medical Assistant, certification may be desirable but isn’t necessarily required in order to obtain employment in the field.

Medical Assistant Training at Dorsey Schools

The Medical Assistant diploma program at Dorsey Schools provides students with the opportunity to learn a unique combination of specialized skills that are necessary for employment as a Medical Assistant. The program combines comprehensive classroom education and practical hands-on experience in both the labs on campus as well as during the externship. Students enrolled in this program will be exposed to both the clinical and administrative aspects of a Medical Assistant’s role. Clinical topics such as recording patient histories, vital signs, administering injections, phlebotomy, and EKGs are covered. Administrative topics such as scheduling patient appointments as well as other routine office tasks are also discussed.

Ready to take the next step? Learn more about the Dorsey Schools Medical Assistant program by requesting info today!

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