Why become a CNA? Be a Medical assistant instead - page 4

by Faro

21,311 Visits | 97 Comments

This isn't a commercial but a warning. Like most folks here, I decided to become a CNA to learn from the "ground up"," pay my dues", get in contact with healthcare professionals. It's the biggest mistake I've made in recent... Read More


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    I have been both. It could be these job choices that have led me on the path to RN (pre-nursing right now, won't be held down, oh no!). Being and MA is still tough work, and yeah, there are definitely perks to working in an office. The pay is better for MA's in most places, depending on where you are. I understand that in nursing, you still clean up a lot of poo...read some of the forums on here. One gal ASKED for the gross out poop stories and some are quite hysterical! I say give Medical Assisting a try. I learned administrative and clinical concepts both in school and on the job. Let me tell you though that school is NOTHING at all like what you find in real life. Very rewarding career choice and some offices only hire MA's instead of nurses. Not sure exactly why, but they are. If you really want to do it, go for it! I didn't regret my choice...I love (most!) of our patients and that's why I'm in this biz. Go for it!
    CarribeanDreamin' likes this.
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    I think you are very wrong here. I am a certified Medical assistant, and I have had no prolems finding jobs, however, there is no room to move up. I decided to go back to school and get my RN, but in order to do so I had to take the CNA classes... even though I am a medical assistant. You have to go back and start over from the begining. CNA, LPN, RN. My medical assisting classes were uselss for purposes of moving forward w/my career. It did give me good work history/background, but the money I spent would have been better spent on becoming and LPN first.
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    Quote from FraidoCat
    The sad thing is, if CNA's would realize their power, they could really change things, sadly I believe most will stay in the dark.
    Funny... I routinely hear/see nurses making the same comment.
    heathert_kc likes this.
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    There are a couple reasons that people should do their CNA: first it is a requirement now a days for getting into nursing schools whether rn or lpn. This means a great potential of advancement (my wage just about doubled from CNA to LPN) that simply does not exist with medical assisting (my cousin spent nearly a year to become a medical assistant only to start all over again to get into nursing school/ plus I was actually making more as a CNA than she was).Though choosing it as a life long career isn't advisable because it is hard, and far less than glamerous work. Plus those dirty, back breaking tasks are all incompassed in total nursing care. When I worked in a hospital, med/surg it was the RN who assisted me with repositioning the pt. As a nurse working homehealth, if your patient needs assistance with toileting or bathing, you are the only one there, you do it. The position of nurse's assistant was created in order to assist nurses with less-medical tasks that lay people can do, so that they can focus on the more skilled tasks but at the end of the day it is the responsibility of the nurse to ensure all of these tasks are done. There is less opportunities in medical assisting, where as CNAs work in ltc, hospitals, homehealth, dialysis and occassionally out patient clinic settings.
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    Quote from Faro
    This isn't a commercial but a warning.

    Like most folks here, I decided to become a CNA to learn from the "ground up"," pay my dues", get in contact with healthcare professionals. It's the biggest mistake I've made in recent years.

    Know why? CNA school doesnt really tell you what being a CNA is about. The private CNA school admission officers lie and gloss over the truth all the while collecting that exorbitant tuition. At a skilled nursing facility where 99% of you will start in, it's 80% changing diapers and making beds. It is a back-breaking, thankless, feces-collecting, low-paying scut job that you can master within months if not weeks or days. I should know. I have.

    All those techniques of bedbathing, turning, grooming? Hah. Out the window. CNA school makes you think you have all the time in the world to attend to these patient needs. No way. You have an overloaded roster of patients and no time to talk, let alone groom them. You have your lead CNAs, your other residents and the nurses themselves yelling at you to attend to their needs. The first month, I was almost crippled for a week because my back was so aching and I had used proper body mechanics. These patients are so overweight, that turning them on the bed just to change their diaper is excruciating at times. CNA school didn't help with that problem among the other REAL situations that arise in LTC.

    Being a CNA means you see the whiniest, neediest dark side of people. After I became one, I've heard one consistent caveat amongst nursing professionals, "You'll get burnt out and will start hating your patients." All true.
    Another caveat? The nurses, whom you work with and are hoping to become one day, you eventually deeply resent. Why? CNAs do ALL the heavy lifting. If a resident vomits or ***** in his pants? Guess who the nurse immediately calls because she can't stomach it. You'll have three call lights to answer and the nurse is yelling at you on top of that to get her vitals done.

    And for those hoping to get into a hospital? Good luck, because to basically get in you have to be a blood relative or really lucky. Especially if you have no experience. Those CNAs working at those hospitals are basically lifers doing the same thing over and over for years on end. Don't envy them too much.

    Become a Medical assistant. You have more interaction with the doctors and nurses, higher variety of patients rather than just old people. No heavy lifting except for maybe transferring once in a long while. The pay is roughly the same, the schooling is longer though. Tuition is a little more but totally worth it. It also counts as healthcare experience which is key since my eventual goal is to get into physician assistant school. Barring that, then nursing school.

    I came in like you all nursing hopefuls wanting to help people. It gets harder week by week to maintain that attitude but there are some bright spots like when one of my residents relatives pulled me aside to tell me that her mother loves me taking care of her. Yet, I can feel my attitude waning. I've been in for three months and it feels like years.

    I'm doing you a favor here. Do yourself a favor and wave off becoming a CNA and be a MA. I wish I did. As for the tuition? There are public school options. I found one for $750, that teaches front and back office at local adult school here in California.

    You have been warned.

    I agree whole-heartedly. The nurses are very non-understanding of how hard we work. They keep you short-staffed and rarely ever give praise. I do it on the weekends and have for a year. It is a very thankless job, but I do love the clients. I am, however, starting to realize that I may have a slipped disk. It is back-breaking work. In many nursing schools, you don't have a chance inless you get your CNA. So, I think this is why people go this route. All the nursing schools in my area expect that you will have your CNA by the time you apply.
    FraidoCat likes this.
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    This is a hard one because this is too general a subject. MA job availability differ by city. School's are all different, tuition is all different....it ALL depends on area. CNA is a pre req for the RN programs where I'm from so if I choose to do that I have to take a CNA course..period. I think it depends more on your long term goal. If MA is right for you-do it. If CNA is a baby step or where you want to stop-do it.
    I'm sure most CNA's won't admit to not liking thier job to reflect thier choice was a good one. If they indeed feel that way. I really think this is different for eveyone. Although I must admit eveything in the original post is everything I worry about being a CNA! And everything I've heard from CNA's working at a LTC Hospital.
    Maybe if you could find some sort of job shadowing or take a lower paying job in an LTC Hospital (activities, etc.)to see what they do daily. Interview a few, say it's for School & go with a bunch of questions. Just a thought.
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    It sounds like you have had an awful experience as a CNA. I am 40 years old and have been a CNA since I was 20 and I love my job. I cannot work in a nurseing home because I am not strong enough to do transfers. I always strain my neck muscles and I am a wimp LOL. Some girls are strong but not me. I also dont like rushing around but I have never experienced the type of workload you are referring to. I did nurseing homes in my 20's but then I switched to home care and its great. I make $15 an hour and up. I live in Ct. The average pay in Connecticut for CNAs is $10 to $17 an hour. In homecare you only have the one client and you go to their home. I dont have to do lifts or transfers at all. I usually have alzheimer patients and they are ambulatory and can use the toilet unless they have an accident. No big deal. That doesnt bother me. My old lady cries if she soils herself. She feels bad. I help her into the shower and get her cleaned up and changed, throw the laundry in the washing machine and shes good to go. Sounds like you have allowed yourself to be taken advantage of and am now angry about it. If I was in a job like yours I would have left right away. You often get what you tolerate and I agree there are bad places to work but that holds true in any profession. I wouldnt trade CNA work for anything else. I have a friend who is an LPN and she doesnt make much more than me and she is paying on a student loan of $15 thousand dollars now. I dont want the debt or the added responsibility of her job. Im happy right where I am and if your thinking of being a CNA I think you should go for it and dont let anyone discourage you because there are great jobs out there, just dont settle for a bad one. No matter what you decide to do.
    pca_85 likes this.
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    Quote from rxgirl6903
    I think you are very wrong here. I am a certified Medical assistant, and I have had no prolems finding jobs, however, there is no room to move up. I decided to go back to school and get my RN, but in order to do so I had to take the CNA classes... even though I am a medical assistant. You have to go back and start over from the begining. CNA, LPN, RN. My medical assisting classes were uselss for purposes of moving forward w/my career. It did give me good work history/background, but the money I spent would have been better spent on becoming and LPN first.


    You do present a very valid argument that I had not considered. Some folks don't want to move on or up, but rather stay w/ being an MA for whatever reasons. I do share the same sentiment as you in regards to the money spent on school. The only class worth a darn was the clinical portion and even then, it doesn't really get you ready for the real thing. If one doesn't want to become a full fledged nurse, then MA is suitable. However, has you pointed out so succintly, it doesn't really prepare one for nursing. I was just pointing out that MA's are being utilized more and more in the offices and some people really prefer the office setting. Not all of us aim for the sky! I'm glad that you pointed out these aspects. It's good to gain a different perspective every once in a while. Thank you!
    lina.561 likes this.
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    What a disappointing post!

    Why do you want to be in the health care field? To interact with doctors and other health care professionals or take care of people.
    Cleaning poop and lifting is part of it.
    If your grandma was in the hospital or nursing home and had incontinence wouldn't you be grateful for the aide/nurse who cleaned her up without making remarks? lovingly restoring her cleanliness and dignity? that when you came to the nursing home where people sometimes end up against their wishes (I do not think that anyone plans to retire in a nursing home), it doesn't smell?

    I LOVE PEOPLE, that is why I do my job.

    I started in the field working 7-11a only 3 days a week for $6/hr bathing elderly people at an assisted living facility. I was grateful to have a job, to help those souls who needed help.

    Tali
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    Many others have said it but I'll say it again. Do yourself a favor and become a LPN instead. The time in school is the same (sometimes shorter) if your getting an A.A.S in MA, plus your paid a little more to do virtually the same job (minus pt assessment) and it's much easier to find a job as an LPN than it is as an MA.
    lina.561, heathert_kc, and juliaann like this.


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