Confused...RN or CMA

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    Hello all this is my first post,forgive me if it's in the wrong section. I am currently taking my pre-reqs for the nursing program at my community college but lately I have been feeling doubtful and confused if this is what I really want.

    I want to work in a clinic (preferably pediatrics or ob/gyn) not a hospital, but I heard they only hire medical assistants and if they do hire nurses it's only for the phone calls not dealing with any patients. I live in southern California if that's any help. My community college has both programs (both certified and both lead to an associates) but classes are really full so it is taking me longer than I had hoped to do nursing.

    My family wants me to do nursing for the money (I am married and have a 8 month old baby girl) but I am worried about not being able to work at a physician's office. If I choose medical assistant I am worried about the money and not having enough to live by. Any opinions out there I would really appreciate it! BTW I am not against becoming a medical assistant,I just want to work in a clinic and do a great job for my future patients.
    Joe V likes this.
  2. 9 Comments so far...

  3. 1
    I've seen clinics that hire RN's, ofc you get paid less than you would working in a hospital. If your only goal is to work in an office then go for the CMA. You won't get paid as much, I feel there are fewer opportunities (you can only work in an office, and offices are rarely hiring), and you'll probably pay more for your CMA degree than you would for an RN program. I would look in the paper and see who is hiring where in your area, maybe talk to a few CMA's and see how much they get paid in your area.
    anie10 likes this.
  4. 1
    I'm an RN and I couldn't get a job in a hospital because no one hires new grads. I work in a doctor's office. I make the same as I did in a LTC office there and have better hours and holidays off. MAs get paid much less than I do. I do lots of hands on care and see many patients. I hate peds though, thought I'd love it before I did nursing school but I hated it and still do haha.
    anie10 likes this.
  5. 1
    I completed a medical assistant program in southern California 12 years ago and was unable to ever find a job as a MA.

    Now that I am an RN, I can honestly say that I would have extreme difficulty living on the typical pay rates that are paid to most MAs. Since many of the hands-on clinical skills overlap, you might as well become an RN and be paid more money for all that you'll do.
    anie10 likes this.
  6. 1
    I have my MA and I never made enough. I had to take a non-nursing job to pay the bills while trying to go back to nursning school. Best of luck!
    anie10 likes this.
  7. 0
    You need to do what YOU want to do and not pick a career just because your family thinks you should do it. MAs sure don't get paid much and nurses not much better, IF you can find a nursing job. Nurses have to be very caring and dedicated people and if you are not, you are going to burn out so fast. You're gonna have to bust your butt once you do get into nursing school too.. its a very time intensive commitment. Do you have full time daycare available so that you can study when you're not in class? You will need it. What about when you go to clinicals? I don't know about your school but mine are 12 hour long days plus travel time to and from. Do all of us (and more importantly yourself) a favor and think long and hard about whether or not you really want to do this.
  8. 1
    Quote from hgrimmett
    MAs sure don't get paid much and nurses not much better, IF you can find a nursing job.
    I am going to have to respectfully disagree with this statement. In my experience in several states, nurses (especially RNs) are usually paid two to four times more money than their MA counterparts. In my area, MAs are paid between $9 and $14 hourly, whereas RNs are paid between $22 and $40+ hourly (that $22 per hour is a new grad pay rate for a nurse with no experience).
    anie10 likes this.
  9. 2
    Hello-

    I worked as an MA in an outpatient clinic (Reporoductive Endo/OBgyn). I used to work with nurses in the clinic and yes most of them will do Triage, and mostly teaching.MA does the venipuncture, vital signs, etc.
    If you really like to work in an OB/GYN or PEDS setting, I'd recommend inpatient setting as an RN, where you can do more hands-on.
    Medical Assistant job is way different from an RN, the salary (esp you have a child), the knowledge/skills, and the flexibility/ opportunities.
    I am currently in the nursing program and i really like it better than an MA.


    GoodLuck to you!
    LilacHeart and anie10 like this.
  10. 0
    I was thinking of doing the MA program at my community college but now I am worried about not finding a job, as a lot of you have put it. I thought long and hard, to be honest my heart isn't in nursing(at least not yet,maybe later I know the opportunity is always there) for now I would love to be an MA,I will get not only regular certification but also California certification and phlebotomy certificate. When I think about it I get really excited!
  11. 0
    If your heart isn't in nursing then you should put it on the back burner for the time being. The time spent in school will demand a great deal of dedication from you and there will be times that you want to throw in the towel due to exhaustion, frustration, etc. If your heart isn't in it you likely won't stick it out through the rough times and you could end up dropping the program and having spent all that money without anything to show for it.

    There's not a darn thing wrong with being a CMA. I am and I'm very proud of the education I've had and of the work that I do. If you are excited about being a MA/Phlebotomist, then follow your heart and go for it! If you want to become a nurse later you can always go back to school at another time and follow that path. Who knows? Your employer may even give tuition assistance depending upon where you work.

    I know this is a nursing forum, but this section IS for CNAs and CMAs, therefore I can say here that being a nurse isn't the be all/end all. Medical Assisting is a very rewarding career choice. And salaries vary depending upon where you live and upon the facility. I live in a pretty economically depressed area of the country, yet there are still PLENTY of MA positions out there and I've been offered everything from $8.00 per hour (uh, no) to $16.00 with full benefits (including laundry service for my scrubs and a uniform allowance!). Just accept the good job, turn down the others.

    Good luck to you. Follow your passion!


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