CNA vs. PTC vs. LPN vs. CMA . . . my doctor's take

  1. I'm in Connecticut
    (I often wish people would specify their geo locations!)

    I had an appointment the other day with my PCP (I have Pertussis!!) - anyway . . . I spoke to her about my plans to enter the Certified Medical Assistant program at a local private school.

    She responded positively and told me that "good MAs are always in demand around here" and that many of the MAs in that office came from the school I'm enrolling in. I told her I was having some doubts and was having some doubt about which certification would be best for me to pursue given my long term goals and current limitations.

    She then broke it down to me this way: (At least in this area, Fairfield Count, CT - can't speak for any other geo location in the country):

    CNA: You're going to work in a nursing home (that's literally what she said)
    PCT: You're doing the duties of a CNA, but you can work in the hospital and will have somewhat more expanded duties (as PCTS are trained in EKG and Phlebotomy, I believe)
    LPN: You'll be a nurse in an outpatient setting (she said they don't need the expertise level, and expense, of a fully trained RN in an outpatient setting)
    RN: You'll be a nurse in an inpatient setting
    CMA (certified medical assistant): You'll work in an outpatient setting

    Of course, these aren't hard and fast rules. But she said that is the reality I will face when I start job hunting in this area.
  2. Visit Xolibear profile page

    About Xolibear

    Joined: Sep '12; Posts: 4


  3. by   gummi bear
    In my state CNAs and PCTs are interchangeable. And CNAs also work in the hospital setting as well. Some hospitals still hire LPNs.
  4. by   sueall
    Xolibear -- Thank you for that post! It confirmed what my research has been showing, and it's always nice hearing what practitioners have to say about the various healthcare worker roles. There will always be variations, but your doc's thumbnail sketch seems pretty spot on.
  5. by   WannaBNursey
    CNA's and PCT's are the same thing in my area too, and I've heard of people going right from a CNA program to the hospital. LPN's are hired as surgical techs in some of the area hospitals, but they're mostly hired in nursing homes and as you said in outpatient settings. I've seen RN's around here work both inpatient and outpatient, and yes CMA's only work in doctor's offices around here.
  6. by   nursel56
    LPNs tend to work in Long Term Care facilities, too although that may change if the job market for RNs (especially new grads) stays as it is now. I'm in So Cal, but many members omit the geo information to help protect their anonymity.
  7. by   Xolibear
    I didn't know that LPNs can sometimes go right into med surg! That's pretty interesting. I'm interested in med surge myself.
  8. by   Xolibear
    @nursel56 Thanks for mentioning you location!
  9. by   Paws2people
    I am a CNA who went directly into acute care in a hospital
  10. by   funtimes
    You dont have to work in a Nursing home if your a CNA. However pretty much the reason CNA exists is because so many people in Nursing homes were being abused and neglected by people taking care of them who were poorly trained, monitored and vetted. So states decided everyone doing direct patient care who isnt licensed should have to undergo formal training and testing to become a CNA and be listed on a Nurse aide registry so instances of abuse and neglect can follow the person around to any LTC facility they apply to. This is why in my state least, and I believe all states, all people working as aides in LTC facilities are legally required to be CNAs.

    People doing aide type work in hospitals however are NOT required to be CNAs. Some hospitals might still require they be CNAs though, but its not a legal requirement, so hospital policies and hiring practices vary, along with the titles they use and training required for their unlicensed assistive personnel. Many hospitals just hire CNAs and call them CNAs. Others hire CNAs and call them PCTs, and others have no CNA requirement but rather base who they hire on specific qualifications like having phlebotomy or ECG training in addition to some sort of patient care training or experience.

    At least this is how I understand it.