Why Medical Assistants Have a Better Job Than CNAs
As the name suggests, certified nursing assistants work less with doctors and directly support nurses. This is why they’re also referred to as nursing aides. All of their tasks relate directly to hands-on care and patient support, but they wear many hats throughout any given working day.
Prospective medical assistants might be able to work without any formal education, and can receive on-the-job training from their employer. Each state has its own medical assistant requirements, however, this will likely result in lower future salary offers.
Medical Assistant Certification
The most common method for becoming a medical assistant is to complete an MA certificate program. Accredited medical assistant training courses can take around 10 months to one year, and are held at thousands of community colleges throughout the country.
Some colleges may offer online medical assistant programs and nursing assistant programs, but accredited courses are recommended as they require the completion of a guided internship.
Medical Assistant Associate Degree
Though an associate degree takes around 18-24 months to complete (and requires substantially more money than a certification program), graduates have more training and a much more competitive resume.
No Matter the Program, One Thing Is Certain
Whichever you choose, being exposed to different types of training can help you discover what your strongest skill sets are, and what you enjoy doing most in a medical environment. Investing time in your education means that you’re more likely to have greater job satisfaction.
Are There Specializations for Medical Assistants and CNAs?
Future MAs may not be sure if they want to specialize in a particular field (like OB/GYN, IVF, or cardiology), but experience typically informs these allied health professionals about the sectors that most appeal to them.
How to Become a CNA
First thing’s first: Each state has its own CNA training requirement, so be sure to check local regulations before enrolling in any CNA program. Technical schools, community colleges, local health providers, and the American Red Cross tend to provide CNA courses that last anywhere from one to four months.
After training, you’ll be required to take your state examination, which includes practical and clinical questions. Because you’ll be working with controlled substances and at-risk patients, your state may require a background check and annual education credits.
For the most competitive resume, choose a CNA course that requires a real-world internship. This will ensure that you have the necessary skills to show prospective employers that you can hit the ground running.
What Are Salaries and Job Markets Like for MAs and CNAs?
As of May 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics concluded that the average income for medical assistants was $32,480, or $15.61 per hour. This is one of the higher-end salaries for allied healthcare careers. Conversely, the average certified nursing assistant pulled in around $27,500, or an hourly salary of just over $13 per hour.
The difference in these incomes is credited to the extended training that medical assistants go through, as well as the high demand for skilled workers. In fact, from 2016 to 2026, the medical assistant field is expected to grow by a whopping 29% compared to a healthy (but considerably smaller) growth rate of 11% for CNAs.
Where Do MAs and CNAs Work?
While CNAs generally work in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and hospices, medical assistants tend to have a greater selection of job opportunities. Thanks to the huge demand for MAs, they are able to find a more work in a wider variety of work environments (like private practices and clinics, which provide the ability to work closely with practitioners).
If you prefer one-on-one learning, a smaller clinic may suit some MAs better than fast-paced hospital. These locales can also provide the ability to work in both the clinical and administrative fields.
It’s All About Who You know
Just like any workplace, the people you work with possibly have the greatest impact on your happiness and confidence.
If you prefer to work more directly with patients, a CNA role might be a great fit for you. While MAs also work with patients of all ages and health conditions, For people who prefer a slightly more unpredictable list of tasks each day, becoming a medical assistant might suit you better.
Always Weigh the Pros And Cons
Remember that both MA and certified nursing jobs are crucial to supporting patients who need your help. Whether you’re checking their temperature, writing up their records, helping them take their first steps after surgery, or helping them navigate the insurance process, it’s endlessly rewarding work.
Ready to Become a Medical Assistant?
If you’re certain that becoming an MA is the right choice for you, take the first step and check out our medical assistant certificate program today!