How do Nurses feel about CMAs?

  1. I just wanted to get a some information on how Nurses feel about Ceritifed Medical Assistants because I am currently in a CMA program. Since my ultimate goal is to become a NP, I plan on going into Nursing in the future. Unfortunately my current personal situation prevents me from attending Nursing school. I wanted to get into the medical field until I am able to attend Nursing school. In the area I live in CMAs are a valuable commodity in the Physicians office. I feel that CMAs, although we are not licensed, serve as a valuable member of the healthcare team. We are trained specificly for the ambulatory care setting in both clinical and administrative procedures. Please give me your feelings on CMAs.
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  2. 38 Comments

  3. by   tonicareer
    I also started out in a MA program and am trying desperately to get into a nursing program. However the nursing programs are difficult to get into many more applicants than space. Recently I have been exploring allied health fields and find those programs are closiing down too. The few that exist only admit 20 students each year or in some cases every other year. They are also making huge increases in tuition and not allowing any transfer credit. However there are increasing numbers of medical assistant programs in my state. Now people I have talked to here say MAs only make minimum wage or slightly above that and no benefits. For the most part hospitals don't hire MAs in my state. However the recruiters at these programs say due to the nursing shortage MAs will be placed more in hospitals. I don't understand why they just don't start LPN programs instead. There are very few allied health, LPN or ASN programs in my state now. However I have talked to people in other states who make big money with an MA. My state (Indiana) seems to be way behind the times. I asked some nurses what they think about MAs and they think they are only trained in typing and such (NOT TRUE). In fact an associate degree MA has more credit hours then an LPN. Also they do require alot of clinical training now for MAs. I think it depends on where you live how much respect nurses have for MAs. Due to the shortage of nurses that may change though. However as I said MAs make very low pay and a LPN gets paid much more. But there are like 50 MA programs and only like 7 LPN programs in my state.
  4. by   KP RN
    I'm an RN in home health, and I have the opportunity to speak with many MA's over the phone regarding my patients.
    As in all fields, there are good MA's and bad MA's. Those who are formally educated can be quite helpful.
    I think most of the nurses on the BB would agree with me, the biggest problem exists when MA's call themselves "nurses". Only an LPN or an RN can legally address themselves as "nurses".
    MA's should be proud of their accomplishments, and call themselves medical assistants instead of nurses.
  5. by   sjoe
    toni writes: "I don't understand why they just don't start LPN programs instead. "

    Read my lips: $$$$$$$.
    Last edit by sjoe on Mar 14, '03
  6. by   tonicareer
    But doesn't running a MA program cost money too? I would think just the same as LPN. LPN is a shorter program than MA.
  7. by   rebelwaclause
    LVN program is 18 - 22 months in my state. How long does it take to get CMA certified?
  8. by   NRSKarenRN
    Medical Assistants training program was developed by physicians as they saw a need for an office assistant who could perform hands on care like their nursing staff did AND perform clerical activities (which the nurses were not trained to do nor desired to do as took time away from patient care) all at a CHEAPER cost.

    Do you realize a physician can train anyone to perform almost any activity in their office under their license---they can give injections, administer IV's, suture, assist in minor procedures without ANY formal training required----just can't call themselves a nurse. I saw that a dermatologist had his office assistants removing warts and biopsing skin lesions when I accompanied my Dad for Grandmom's skin cancer treatment. Patients all acceptented this practice "cause Dr is so busy"---didn't understand THAT IS WHAT THEY ARE PAYING FOR THE DOCTOR'S TIME!!!!!!
  9. by   CMERN
    NurseKaren is correct..I my self.was first a certified M.A. in 1994...I to wanted to "get in to the medical field" but was a single mom who couldn't afford time or money enough to go to college for my R.N., My R.N. was my ultimate goal. My experiences as a CMA were valuable..I never called my self a nurse until I was a NURSE!...If at all possible go for your R.N....If not possible use the CMA as a stepping stone. But physicians are the ones who developed the program and IT was done to undercut R.N.'s and was what the physician could use as his "cheaper" help... think it through make a SMART decision and good luck with whichever you persue....
  10. by   sr moore
    In my are (San Fransico bay - east) most of the medical assistant programs are between 8mo to year. Most are AA degrees. I work in a pediatric group with five pediatricians. We have no nurses on staff LPN or RN. I supervise 5 ma,and provide externship training for schools in our area. I am a EMT, have worked for the U.S. Army as an medical assistant for 4 years, and a current RN student. As anEMT and the back office supervisor I must triage anyone that walks in (even though we don't have walk in clinic). As an MA i can gather information only. I love my job and most of our patients. Our practice is well respected in the area, and our doctors definately beleive in working with the less privelaged population in our area. Interestingly when i was hired i asked why no nurses? We can't afford them with the salary requirements in this area. Our group belongs to an HMO and we usually get7 -10$ per month per patient as capitation. No matter if we see the patiet 1 time or 12 times that month. Really good reimbursement. over 40% of our patient base are on state sposored medial programs. MA's will never replace nurses but I do see a need for this career field. I think the healthcare industry needs all parts of the equation to work together,each in their own scope of practice, and as a way to start in the medical field while ever expanding your knowledge base, and scope of practice. In our office the only ones who still try to call us nurses are our docs, and some of the front office staff. None of my staff ever calls theselves a nurse, and always refers to themselves a Dr.so and so's assistant. Two of my staff are in nursing school now and it is difficult with my supervisor to arrange work schedules but i beleive it to be very important to work out. My goal in providing extenship to the schools is building on their knowledge base and reinforcing their skills while challenging them to think. Think about now, where they want to go in the nursing field, encouraging them to go for the RN. Some of them come out of school right on top o their skills, wanting to learn and then some you wonder what they did in school. We interview all our candidates or externship just like a job intervew. I am sorry that this is so long, but as I said I love what I am doing and where I am going. Happy Holidays!
  11. by   Q.
    Currently, I have a negative opinion of MAs, only because I have seen them intentionally mislead patients into believing they are a nurse, and, because my former employer just eliminated all the RNs and replaced them with MAs.
  12. by   TeresaRN2b
    Ok, here are my thoughts since I am a medical assistant going for my RN. I have been to nursing school and I have been to MA school. Medical assistant school is a joke compared to nursing school. Please do not take that the wrong way, but the school I went to was pathetic. I had a 100% GPA. You could miss one day a week of class and still pass. The clinical time was all in the lab and no hospital or doctors office time with real patients at all. That being said the procedures you would be doing in an office are not difficult and honestly don't require that much training. It gave me good patient experience. I am great at drawing blood now and can do EKGs. I also have insurance training and other clerical skills that will help me in nursing, but that being said the training is not even close to the training nurses get. If you do go to be a CMA please check the accreditation of your school. I know Excelsior College takes CMA into their nursing program, but your school has to be accredited through the AAMA (America Association of Medical Assistants). My program was not. I am glad that I am going to a traditional nursing school though because I don't think I'd honestly be prepared to work as a nurse. Yes, I know how to do vitals, injections, draw blood, lab work, and EKGs and some other procedures, but there is so much more that I don't know that nurses do. If I had my choice to do it over again I would have gone to school to be an LPN. Where I live CMAs can make the same as LPNs however when you go back to school being a CMA helps you diddly as far as time goes and had I gone for my LPN it would have saved me a lot of headache. CMA programs are appealing because they are easier to get into, but if you want to advance your career you will pretty much have to start over from scratch. So think about that before you start your schooling. The 8-12 months you spend on this CMA program would be better spent in nursing school. First off most hospitals will hire nursing students as techs and in the same amount of time you spent in a CMA program you could get enough qualifications to work in a hospital making comparable pay. Just my thoughts anyways, but if I had to do it all over again I would not have wasted my time going to school to be a CMA.

    Teresa
  13. by   Agnus
    I have been an CMA, LPN and now RN.
    #1 MAs will not can not replace nurses in a hospital. That is a flat out lie. The person telling you is either misinformed themself or delusional. The consumer protection laws simply do not permit that.
    Most MA programs are taught and headed by a CMA not a nurse. So the have very limited knowledge themselves. They think they know more than they do, and do not know what it is that they do not know.

    I am familiar with Excelsior. MA with no other experience than an MD office do not qualify for admission. I even referred a CMA and they rejected her base on this. Perhaps there have been some change to Excelsior that I am not aware of.
    You have received very good answers to your original question from all the other posters here. I cannnot take issue with any of it.
    You can perform certain task that is true but that is all you are qualifed to do and you cannot do ANY of it without working under a physician's license.
    You are a valuabel comodity as you say. It is a way to get your feet wet. It may or may not be less expensive than LPN school. The income varies from geographic local to local, and can vary depending on the amount and type of experience you have. Often you may find that even in an MD's office you will be working under and LPN or RN.
    It is a great way to learn.
    Consider looking very cl;osly at financial aid for Nursing school it is usually better than aid for CMA.
    Good luck.
  14. by   Agnus
    You used the word "recuriter" saying that hospitals would be using MA's.
    Maybe, but ONLY in outpatient clinics. And then under the direction of an RN.
    Recruiter is a sales person. Keep this in mind.
    Their only function is sales. They are selling you the program. They may not even have a medical background themselves.

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