Nursing Vs Medical Assistant Careers: What’s the Difference?

NursingOctober 11, 2017

Nursing and medical assisting are two great medical career options. Since many of the job responsibilities of these two professions overlap, it can be difficult to distinguish between them. 

Let’s take a closer look to see what the main differences are. 

Nursing Vs. Medical Assistants

Although they share some similar job duties, there are a lot of differences between the duties performed by medical assistants (MAs) and nurses:
MAs are typically assigned a variety of responsibilities, including patient care and administrative duties, whereas job duties for nurses typically focus on patient care and include a minimal amount of administrative duties. 

MAs work under the supervision of a doctor or nurse and only perform the type of care expressed directly by the supervisor. While nurses also follow doctor’s orders, they are trained to write patient care plans.

MAs often perform administrative duties like scheduling patients, answering telephones and medical billing. The administrative duties performed by nurses include documenting a patient’s condition and writing care plans.

MAs work directly under the supervision of a licensed medical doctor or a registered nurse. Both the licensed practical nurse and registered nurse work under their own individual license.

Difference in Education

Medical assistants typically attend a medical assisting program for two years, one year, or nine months and these programs are similar to a first-year nursing program. In addition to foundational medical courses, medical assistant programs also include broad administrative training. 

Nurses can complete one year of nursing school and earn their licensed practical nurse (LPN) degree. Nursing students may complete an additional year of schooling to earn the registered nurse designation (RN). Two-year nursing schools offer an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN), while a four-year bachelor degree earns the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Nurse education does not include the broad administrative training that medical assisting programs do.

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