The medical profession has many different jobs for those interested in entering the field. Some career titles are very confusing to some people. Medical Assistants and Certified Nursing Assistants are two of those careers. Many people think that these two medical professionals are the same, but they are not. CNAs and Medical Assistants are actually quite different.
Job Description of a Medical Assistant
Medical assistants are professional who work in medical centers, offices of doctors, and clinics to help these establishments run smoothly. Their jobs depend on the specific needs of their employers. They may perform administrative, clerical, or clinical tasks, or all three.
Clinical duties that Medical Assistants perform may include the following:
- Creating medical records
- Performing laboratory tests
- Authorizing prescriptions
- Taking X-rays
- Dressing wounds
- Removing sutures
- Relaying information to patients
- Assisting with patient exams
- Administering medications
Clerical duties that Medical Assistants perform may include the following:
- Filling out insurance forms
- Answering phones
- Arranging lab services
- Management duties
- Running the medical practice
- Patient admissions
Administrative duties that Medical Assistants perform may include the following:
- Submitting medical claim forms
- Scheduling medical tests
- Arranging hospital admissions
- Updating patient files
Job Description of a CNA
CNAs are medical professionals who attend to the needs of patients who are terminally ill, recovering, and aging. They carry out many of the tasks needed for the daily operations of medical facilities. CNAs perform the following tasks:
- Setting up equipment for patients (irrigation bottles and oxygen tents)
- Administering treatments such as enemas, catheterizations, and suppositories
- Collecting food trays from patients
- Restraining patients when necessary
- Feeding patients who are unable to feed themselves
- Changing bed linens
- Maintaining medical inventory in medical facilities
- Grooming, bathing, and dressing patients
- Delivering specimens to laboratories
- Collecting specimens from patients
- Directing visitors
- Answering phones
- Transporting patients to treatment
- Processing documents
- Working in conjunction with a medical team
- Repositioning patients to prevent bedsores
- Supervising patient exercise routines
- Observing patient conditions
- Answering patient call signals
Employment Setting for a Medical Assistant & CNA
There are currently over 500,000 Medical Assistants working in the United States today. Currently 11% work in other health practitioners’ offices, such as chiropractors and dentists; 62% work in physicians’ offices, and 13% work in private and public hospitals. The remaining Medical Assistants work in nursing care facilities, outpatient care centers, residential care facilities, and colleges, professional schools, and universities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a 34% increase in Medical Assistant positions is expected through the year 2018.
Certified Nursing Assistants hold over 1.5 million jobs in the United States today. Approximately 29% of CNAs work in hospitals and 41% work in nursing care facilities. The remaining Certified Nursing Assistants work in government agencies, family services, residential care facilities, individual services, outpatient care centers, general medical hospitals, employment services, surgical hospitals, and home health care services.
The differences between CNAs and Medical Assistants are as follows:
- Certified Nursing Assistants have more involvement with their patients than Medical Assistants do. Medical Assistants mainly perform office management tasks in medical facilities.
- Medical Assistants work under the supervision of physicians or office managers, whereas Certified Nursing Assistants report to Licensed Practical Nurses or Registered Nurses.
- Medical assistants do not require as much training as CNAs do. CNAs receive more training than Medical Assistants, and they can become more involved in the clinical aspects of their jobs.
- CNAs can use their training to advance to higher degrees and get into nursing school. Medical Assistants will have to start at the beginning of a program if they decide that they want to become nurses later.
- Medical Assistants have more job responsibilities than Certified Nursing Assistants do.
- Medical Assistants generally receive phlebotomy training to become more marketable while CNAs do not.
- Medical Assistants receive training in managing the front offices of medical facilities.
- CNAs have a better understanding of patients’ needs due to the greater level of exposure to them.
Certified Nursing Assistants and Medical Assistants are much more different than many people think they are. Both provide specialized skills to the medical field, but their jobs are vastly different for the most part. The decision to become a CNA or a Medical Assistant depends greatly on what each individual wants for their future.