Nursing Degrees: FAQs Concerning MA-to-RN Mobility

by TheCommuter 5,410 Views | 24 Comments Senior Moderator

For many medical assistants, a career switch to the nursing profession seems like a great idea due to the overlap in procedural skills. In reality, it truly is a great idea! However, MAs who are considering becoming nurses must realize a few things before taking the plunge.

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    Nursing Degrees: FAQs Concerning MA-to-RN Mobility

    Numerous medical assistants thoroughly enjoy their jobs as workers in the allied healthcare field and couldnít imagine doing anything else. Other MAs feel trapped inside a circular vortex where rude doctors, routine tasks, rigid hours and low pay trigger their desire for another career that still involves patient care, procedural skills, and interaction in a healthcare setting.

    For many MAs, a career switch to nursing seems like a great idea. In reality, it is a great idea! However, MAs who are thinking about becoming nurses would be wise to realize a few things.

    So, are there any good MA-to-LPN or MA-to-RN bridge programs you can recommend?

    Sorry, but MA-to-LPN bridge programs do not exist. Neither do MA-to-RN completion programs. If one reads this and knows about one of these programs, feel free to share the name and location.

    Why donít MA-to-LPN or MA-to-RN programs exist? Itís a logical progression!

    The progression doesn't seem all that logical to me. This opinion is coming from a person who completed an MA program in 2000, an LPN/LVN program in 2005, and an LPN-to-RN associate of science degree bridge program in 2010. Medical assisting is a part of the medical model of care provision, whereas nursing has its own distinct nursing model of care. And even though many medical assisting procedural skills overlap with multiple nursing tasks, the two career fields are not as similar as they might seem to the naked eye. Since the LPN and RN roles both fall under the same nursing model, LPN-to-RN bridge programs are offered at countless schools.

    Can I challenge the boards to become an LPN or RN if I have years of MA experience?

    No board of nursing in any state in the union will allow applicants to challenge the board to attain licensure as a registered nurse. However, California will allow applicants with the right mix of experience to challenge the boards to obtain licensure as an LVN (licensed vocational nurse). According to the California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians (2011), qualifying for the licensure examination based on prior education and experience, often referred to as "the equivalency method," requires the applicant to provide documentation of a minimum of 51 months of paid general duty inpatient bedside nursing experience in a clinical facility and completion of a 54-theory-hour pharmacology course.

    Do I still need to attend a nursing program if I am a medical assistant?

    The admissions advisers of most nursing programs do not grant any time off for possessing many years of experience as an MA. In most cases you will still need to pass the same prerequisite courses as other applicants, attain acceptable scores on the same entrance exams that others must take, get accepted like everyone else, and enroll in the same nursing courses. If you completed your MA program at a regionally accredited community college, some credits might transfer to your nursing program. However, your credits probably will not transfer if you graduated from an investor-owned trade school that lacks regional accreditation. In other words, your medical assistant training and work experience is valuable, but not likely to cut much time off your ultimate goal of becoming a licensed nurse.
    Last edit by Joe V on Dec 23, '13
    817nurse and Joe V like this.
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  3. About TheCommuter

    TheCommuter is a moderator of allnurses.com and has varied experiences upon which to draw for articles. She was an LPN/LVN for more than four years prior to becoming a registered nurse.

    TheCommuter joined Feb '05 - from 'Fort Worth, Texas, USA'. Age: 33 TheCommuter has '8' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'acute rehab, long term care, and psych'. Posts: 27,195 Likes: 38,623; Learn more about TheCommuter by visiting their allnursesPage Website


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    24 Comments so far...

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    I have seen ads advertising MA programs (CollegeAmerica) that are claiming to be prereqs for a nursing career - trying to intertwine the two. It is also disturbing that these MA programs thru the "for profit trade schools" cost more than the ADN program at the local CC and MA's get paid like $12?? Yikes.
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    Quote from hope3456
    I have seen ads advertising MA programs (CollegeAmerica) that are claiming to be prereqs for a nursing career - trying to intertwine the two. It is also disturbing that these MA programs thru the "for profit trade schools" cost more than the ADN program at the local CC and MA's get paid like $12?? Yikes.

    This is so true! A local "career college" in my area charges double what you would pay for an ADN for just a certificate or diploma. Plus in my area many MA barely make $12 hourly.
    OCNRN63 and kaydensmom01 like this.
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    I couldn't agree more with this article. Many people seem to think that just because MA's perform nursing tasks such as catheters and shots that they are doing nursing skills and are just getting paid less, when in reality these things are tasks and not skills at all. Nursing and MA careers are much more different than most think.
    melis112287 likes this.
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    http://allnurses.com/general-nursing...ng-857345.html


    The beginning of the above thread provided an EXCELLENT topic on MAs replacing nurses. If they already perform the tasks, why not just put them on the front line of things right?

    My cousin is a PA, and to hear her complain about all the incompetence of the nurses beneath her is so frustrating. I could barely keep my mouth shut during our holiday reunion. Seriously, if nurses, in general, are that pathetic in the eyes of the physicians and PAs, then why bother with advanced education to work as a floor nurse? Let an MA do it!

    Even in my LPN-RN program, going back to clinicals, i'm astounded at how amazingly lazy floor nurses are on clinical days. As an ER nurse, I sit on my bottom hardly even a fraction of the time that those in my clinical sites did. From a LTC nurse's perspective, it is even more stupefying how much down time the floor nurse's have at clinicals! YEESH!!! Seriously.... I really want to say, just let an MA do it.

    However, i want to add... an MA, without my experience, education, and training could never be me! I get things done right and efficiently! It makes me wonder what those nurses, under my PA relative, perceive themselves as actually doing and what "critical thinking" skills they claim to possess.


    Yet, what about this question.... what if MAs were expected to fulfill the entire job function of an RN but kept at the same pay rate as a typical MA? However, what if the hospital kept the same budget for staff? So that is 2 MAs for the price of 1 RN. If one RN has 6 patients on a med-surg floor... or even 4 patients like at my hospital, that could mean that one MA is only responsible for 2 patients (or 3 at most). Given the vast amount of personalized attention those patients should receive, one can only wonder if MAs would create more favorable outcomes.

    On the other hand, others lay claim that the type of mentality, education level, and even lowered socio-economic status that the majority of MAs come from hinders their ability to provide quality care. This seems to be something a lot of people continually insinuate in the above mentioned thread but hardly anyone comes outright and says it. So I'm saying it... Do you agree that most MA's are not capable of becoming nurses? They just can't hack it. They couldn't deal with the "stress". They can't hack the competition... oh wait, of course they couldn't hack it; that is why they became MAs, rt? - I say that is WRONG!! I really believe those people could hack it in a nursing program.

    One of the best nurse's I know possibly was one of those people. She had everything against her. She regularly failed a class every single semester of nursing school. However, she pushed forward. This woman just kept plowing onward and NOTHING EVER GOT HER DOWN!!! Wow!!! Even more so, when I talk to her about things, she comprehends them. She even blows my mind further by bringing something up that never even occurred to me! She may have failed a lot of classes, but she learned twice as much and became that much more proficient because it all stayed in her long term memory; even to this day!

    That is another thing... those nursing schools that expel a student for failing a class. That is ridiculous! I can't describe my animosity enough regarding those kinds of programs. If a student fails, the school should encourage them to try again, not remove them from the program. Oh Jeesh.... I'm stopping myself before I continue forward with this. It is this type of schooling that would have stopped my own career in nursing and many other excellent nurses.

    Okay.. point of this was....

    While there are no known MA-LPN/RN/"Nurse" programs out there; I still feel an MA given a typical hospital orientation of 12 weeks could perform equally as well with a lower MA-patient ratio as a "nurse" with a higher "nurse" to patient ratio.
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    ​<smh>
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    Quote from libran1984
    While there are no known MA-LPN/RN/"Nurse" programs out there; I still feel an MA given a typical hospital orientation of 12 weeks could perform equally as well with a lower MA-patient ratio as a "nurse" with a higher "nurse" to patient ratio.
    Oh my gosh! It is all I can do to not reply in the condescending and sarcastic manner the comment above deserves!
    melis112287, BuckyBadgerRN, and OCNRN63 like this.
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    libran1984, if that is what you truly believe, then your faculty in your LPN-RN completion program is failing miserably at teaching you about the role of the registered nurse. With the level of contempt you seem to have for RNs, I wonder why you are in a bridge program.

    Nurses are not beneath anyone...not physicians and certainly not mid-level providers like PAs.

    I don't even know how to address your last comment. It is utterly lacking in logic and comprehension regarding the difference between task-oriented care v. the comprehensive care nurses provide. The fact that your role model is someone who routinely failed courses in her nursing program says a lot about you and what you think of RNs.

    If you think MAs can replace RNs, why are you trying to become an RN? Just go back to school and become an MA. Then you can show all those lazy, incompetent nurses how it's really done. /srcsm
    Last edit by OCNRN63 on Dec 23, '13
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    Quote from OCNRN63
    libran1984, if that is what you truly believe, then your faculty in your LPN-RN completion program is failing miserably at teaching you about the role of the registered nurse. With the level of contempt you seem to have for RNs, I wonder why you are in a bridge program.

    Nurses are not beneath anyone...not physicians and certainly not mid-level providers like PAs.

    I don't even know how to address your last comment. It is utterly lacking in logic and comprehension regarding the difference between task-oriented care v. the comprehensive care nurses provide. The fact that your role model is someone who routinely failed courses in her nursing program says a lot about you and what you think of RNs.

    If you think MAs can replace RNs, why are you trying to become an RN? Just go back to school and become an MA. Then you can show all those lazy, incompetent nurses how it's really done. /srcsm
    I completely agree. This is not the first post where you bashed nurses and claimed how anyone can do a nurses job with 12 weeks of orientation- show WHY in the hell are you trying to become a RN? Oh wait it so you can get paid double to just sit on your ass....

    Go into a different field because we do not need people like you that belittle the profession. I'm sorry that you do not value your education enough to know that you could not train an MA for 12 weeks to perform a RN's job and completely understand the rationale behind everything. No one has said that MA's would not make it in nursing school, but they are saying that the MA's and RN's education are completely different regardless of performing SOME of the same tasks and it takes longer than 12 weeks to gain that education of the differences. I received a wonderful education and know that I could not train an MA for 12 weeks to perform my job at the same level. Stop generalizing nurses.
    himilayaneyes likes this.
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    Quote from kaydensmom01
    I completely agree. This is not the first post where you bashed nurses and claimed how anyone can do a nurses job with 12 weeks of orientation- show WHY in the hell are you trying to become a RN? Oh wait it so you can get paid double to just sit on your ass....

    Go into a different field because we do not need people like you that belittle the profession. I'm sorry that you do not value your education enough to know that you could not train an MA for 12 weeks to perform a RN's job and completely understand the rationale behind everything. No one has said that MA's would not make it in nursing school, but they are saying that the MA's and RN's education are completely different regardless of performing SOME of the same tasks and it takes longer than 12 weeks to gain that education of the differences. I received a wonderful education and know that I could not train an MA for 12 weeks to perform my job at the same level. Stop generalizing nurses.

    I forgot that this poster had made similar claims earlier.


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