CNA vs. CMA

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    I recently became a certified medical assistant and am having a terrible time of finding a job. Every hospital in my area accepts only licensed nurses (lvn's and rn's) and every other job posting is for cna's. I am not sure the rules but since technically, I work the same things as an lvn, can I challenge the cna board at least? I can't find anything on the state board website. I know I can't challenge the lvn but need a job..even if it means being a cna until our town catches up with the rest of the country and acknowledges that a CMA is a good thing. Help!
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  3. 15 Comments so far...

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    Hi. Here in MA the terms are used interchangeably IF you're a medical assistant. I held a CMA prior to my RN and worked in two hospitals as a CNA and one as an ER tech. Usually CMAs work in physician offices, do phlebotomy, EKGs, etc...Did you check job postings for practices? I'd also check emergency departments to see if they have anything open.
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    I'm not sure what state you live in, or what the scope of practice is in your state, but a CMA does not do "basically the same thing as an LVN." Since you said LVN and not LPN I am guessing you are in Texas or California. An LVN is a licensed nurse, and while in a doctor's office you may have most of the same responsibilities as an LVN, in a hospital it is much, much different. I'm not trying to be a jerk, but when you throw those kinds of statements around it is not taken very well by the people on here that worked really hard and took the NCLEX to be "basically the same as a CMA."

    That being said, I know that in my area you don't have to be a certified CNA to be a care tech in the hospital setting and I am sure your medical knowledge will be a good thing if you apply for that. Also look into doctor offices as that is where you will find the most CMAs and have the best shot of getting into the job you want. If you did the phlebotomy course in school you could also look at your local blood bank or hospital lab.

    Hope this helps.
    Dolce, BookwormRN, and lindarn like this.
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    In some states (whether it should happen or not is irrelevant, the point is it does) LPN/CMA are hired equally for physician practices. Job postings state LPN OR CMA needed. They do the same tasks - from education to injections to assisting in procedures to telephone triage. An LPN goes through a 10 month program, a CMA goes through a 12-18 month program. The difference is the rationale. There is a lot more education given for an LPN course whereas a CMA has a more more hands-on and technical component.
    Last edit by VivaLasViejas on Jul 27, '08 : Reason: quoting deleted post
    Little Panda RN, beckersSN, and cmadeit like this.
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    Hospitals rarely take medical assistants, unless you are applying for unit secretary/ tech positions. Your first message did seem, whether you knew it or not, to be challenging a LPN (not so much RN) position. LPN's can do far more than you can as an MA.

    Your best chance is a clinic. Or you need to broaden your job focus and become a unit tech/ secretary/ tele tech
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    Well here in this part of the country CMA's and LPN's perform the same functions in a physcians office.


    Being a CMA myself a few years ago I do understand where the OP is coming from. I am now an LPN but do not hold myself in higher regard than a CMA. We are all vital parts of the healthcare team.

    Just my 2 cents
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    I know of a few girls who went through a course to become an MA, and a lot of the intructors like to tell the student that there are so many things you will be doing similar to a nurse. I think the students are misguided through no fault of their own and don't mean to sound as if they are going to be doing nursing duties, but lead to believe they are a very important part of the healthcare team. I am an LPN student currently and I have been amazed at what the CNA's now do at the hospitals I do rotations at. I found it ironic that the CNA's were doing more than I thought they could do (many are phlebotomy certified) and I was delegated to do more CNA work while there; kind of a switcheroo.
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    Just remember... most of the CMA schools out there are for profit money making machines. I thought about applying to a LPN program at a local "tech college". One year of classes and it costs abot 25,000. Of course there is a much shorter waiting list, however I am just not willing to drop 25 grand to became an LPN, when it will cost me about 6500 to complete the ADN program at the local community college. When I initially started looking into nursing programs, I filled out this online form to have schools contact me. 99% of the schools were tech schools telling me about their MA programs. Fortunatly I looked into everything and found out the real deal about MAs in my area (Indiana/Chicago). The pay for a MA is usually 9-11 bucks an hour. There are TONS of graduates from the area school flooding the market. So I decided to just get my CNA cert. Got a job at a hospital. Now I am trained in basic patient care, as well as the more MA like skills (the hospital taught me phlebotomy, EKGs, and more). I make about the same base pay as an MA, but make much more when I factor in shift diff. All for the low price of my 550 dollar CNA class. Seriously... before anyone goes to a CMA program... look into the local job market! Also remember that some hospitals will hire you with no training before they hire you with MA training. I know where I work our listings specifically state no MAs need apply to the PCA/PCT jobs. Apparently they have had too many problems with the nurses and MAs bickering on the job. Now if you want to work in a doctors office... go for the MA program. I know I personally love the MAs at my docs office. Truth be told I would prefer that an MA take my blood any day over an RN, thats just for me. I would let an LPN/RN assess me WAAAY over an MA.
    lindarn and Dolce like this.
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    As above poster stated - look to see what the job market is before committing to school. An LPN and/or RN is USUALLY marketable. However, I work in a large physician practice and most of our personnel are MOA (medical office assistants). I was surprized by this as this is my first office setting. Howevere, overall an RN has the best prospects by far at least in my area.
    Siddhartha and lindarn like this.
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    Also, as far as challenging the CNA boards... you would be hard pressed to be able to. The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 require that all CNAs/STNAs attend at least 75 hours of education at a state approved training program with at least 16 hours of direct clinicals. I know in Indiana that you have to have 30 hours of class and 75 hours of clinicals. Either way you would have to be provided the minimal set of education provided by a certified school/facility. This is to comply with federal standards for ALL CNAs. There are some loopholes (such as having military training in patient care in some states, however this is only allowed because their training complies with OBRA '87 standards) Some other states allow foreign trained nurses to challenge the board, but they must still take the practical and written tests. It might be worth it to look into just taking the class. Besides, the stuff you learn in CNA class is nothing like CMA classes. I know in my class we focused on residents right, and personal care procedures.
    lindarn likes this.


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