There is a difference in training. LPNs are trained in 4 domains of patient care; med-surg, psychiatry, women's health and pediatrics. Also, we are taught of the nursing process of Assessment (or data gathering for the LPN), Diagnosis (nursing diagnosis), Planning, Implementation and Evaluation. In most states, it is very true that the Medical Assistant works under the license of the physician, but if there is a mistake, the physician is usually held to be more liable whereas a nurse is liable for herself under the Board of Nursing. It seems that the MA position is not as regulated, because some places have on the job training, others have the education, but not the certification/registration and some have a 2 year program while others have a shorter one.
I am also not saying that one is better than the other. What I am saying is that one is licensed, thus is held more liable and responsible than the other. Yes, they do similar tasks, and if someone (meaning the physician) is going to vouch for their additional skills, then, sure, they can perform them. And, I can see how, if an MA is employed at a place where more complicated tasks are performed, that they are able to do more than an LPN. But, it seems to me that if there is a mistake, then, the patient can sue the physician for not delegating a qualified person who is performing the skill properly, but if it is a nurse, then, that nurse can be held legally liable and responsible for her own actions based on the scope of practice. I took a medical assisting course many years ago, and after I took the LPN course, I really saw that it was apples and oranges in the way that we were taught.
Some LPNs say the same thing about RNs..."We do the same thing that they do...we are nurses, too (that is true, we are)"...I already know that we don't. We have skills that run parallel to the RN, for sure. However, they have even more liability and accountablility than we do. Again, this does not say that there are not shotty MAs, LPNs and RNs out there. It is the person that makes the job, not the level of education. However, I see clear differences between how all of these programs teach, and the level of accountability rises with each elevation of title.