CNA or MA for points?

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    Hey everyone~ I love this site and have been lurking for awhile! I recently started taking my prerequisites at PCC for my RN. PCC is opening up another Medical Assisting program next spring in Beaverton (close to where I live). Do you guys think it's worth it? Or should I get my CNA? If I get me MA do companies assist in college to get my RN? Any advise is appreciated:-):heartbeat
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  3. 9 Comments so far...

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    I think the two are fairly evenly weighted, with a CNA giving you more of an edge. Both are opportunities for direct patient care, but a CNA is closer to your final goal. Clackamas will give you extra points if you completed your CNA with them.
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    I am currently a medical assistant and work at a pediatric clinic. Being a medical assistant give you much more you can do, like blood draws (not just finger pokes for blood sugars), injections, throat cultures, wound care and so much more.

    I also worked as a caregiver, I know it's not a CNA but pretty much the same concept. I worked in a retirement community/assisted living. It wasn't a nursing home. I helped with exercises, toiletting, showers, basically the ADLS.

    They both have their advantages. I love being a medical assistant smuch more. I feel like I got some much more out of it as an MA than a caregiver. I did not like being a caregiver at all.

    I think for the most part is that I took so much pride in my work. On my shift I always made sure residents who needed to be toiletted got toiletted. I would come on and start my shift and my residents would be soaking wet. So wet that I needed to change their clothes, bed sheets, etc. It was so frustrating when others didn't take as good of care as they should have. I felt like some things were getting neglected and I just couldn't see that anymore so I quit. I know that it probably isn't like that everywhere.

    The residents were great! That is a good thing I can say about that. It was great getting to know some of them and listening to some of their stories. I found that I had a lot in common with some of them. It was so great when I would get a hug, thank you or a huge smile. Made me feel like I was really making the difference.

    Last year I applied to 5 nursing schools (didnt get in), but if I remember correctly, most of them gave some sort of points for work experience (regardless of MA or caregive/CNA). I got points from one school for working as a caregiver. It went by how many hours I worked. I think full time for one year was 6 points, that was the max. I think that was for Clatsop Community College (where I am going this year!).

    Clackamas gives 3 points, plus I think 3 more or so for getting the MA from them.

    From what I have heard, all schools want you to have your CNA, or at least take the NA course before you start nursing school. I haven't taken the NA course but I can take a nursing skills class through Clatsop. It takes place of the NA course.

    So it is kind of a tough decision for you. Either way you will get some great hands on experience.

    Another thing to think about is pay as an MA and a CNA. I do believe MA's get paid more. You can work in hospitals, clinics, urgent care, etc. Most places you wont have to work nights. It is basicalloly M-F 8-5 kind of thing. You get paid holidays, decent benefits (depending on where you work). At my clinic there are some Saturdays availabe, it is not manditory. But nice when you do work a weekend (about 4 hours), we get paid time and a half. Winter hours for weekends are a little different.

    As a CNA you may work nights. And will miss out on holidays, sometimes without extra pay. Again that will depend on where you work. I know the place I worked at as a caregiver did offer benefits but it was for full time employees, oh vacation time too (as well as for MA. I get 2 weeks a year after my first year, plus sick time).

    One other thing (I know this is getting kind of long), if you plan to work full time as an MA, it might be hard to take classes. Some clinics may not work with your school schedule. If you work part time though, some would be pretty accomidating. It gets pretty busy during flu season. Our hours change to accomidate a large patient flow (I work for a really big clinic, 4 locations, total of 10 providers).

    Just something to think about from someone who as done both. I do have to say I love medical assisting. It is great! If you want to talk more send me a private message. I can answer any more questions you have.

    Good luck.
  6. 0
    Quote from SunnySunshine
    Hey everyone~ I love this site and have been lurking for awhile! I recently started taking my prerequisites at PCC for my RN. PCC is opening up another Medical Assisting program next spring in Beaverton (close to where I live). Do you guys think it's worth it? Or should I get my CNA? If I get me MA do companies assist in college to get my RN? Any advise is appreciated:-):heartbeat
    If you are just looking for points for acceptance to a nursing, it seems the CNA would have more advantages. It's costs less and it takes less time.

    If you are seeking a career the previous poster has great information.... CNAs won't make as much as a RMA and have more challenging work situations (usually)...

    But if you goal is points for RN program acceptance, the difference is easy to see...

    Of course, I could be wrong. YMMV
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    Banjoeer has a good point. It does take longer and costs more money to become an MA.

    Another thing I forgot to point out is that if you go to a community college for your MA you can use your courses towards your nursing degree. I am glad and upset that I went the way that I did.

    Glad because I know that nursing is where I ideally want to be. I just can't wait to start nursing school in September and get out there and dig my feet into the sand (work).

    Upset because I went to a trade school, spent WAY too much money and feel like I wasted time. But, I think I was really immature when I got out of high school, I didn't have great grades either. I barely graduated from high school.

    I would do your research. Either way you go, they are both great choices and will give you experience and you will learn so much.

    Banjoeer:

    I love your beer nursing experience. Thats great!! What a good laugh.
    WisdomSeeker55 and Banjoeer like this.
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    Not every school requires a CNA - I think it's more the community colleges. One thing to keep in mind is that (unless things have changed) I know after I finished my first year as an undergrad at OHSU (that's the equivalent of the jr. year in a regular 4-year institution) you are considered trained to the CNA level. One thing that allowed one to do was to apply to the VA for a SN (student nurse) position. Pay's not bad, and they let you do anything you've gotten training for in your program, not just whatever the normal CNA scope of practice is. Also, while there are + and - in working at the NSCU (the skilled nursing care center) part of the VA, which is over in Vancouver, you do get to do a lot more things than "normal" CNAs including wounds, placing foleys, etc. (again, as far as I know, b/c they've gone through some changes there too)
    Cinquefoil likes this.
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    I did the MA program at Clackamas for points. I have yet to see if it has gotten me anywhere because I just graduated last month, but here was my reasoning:

    I get brownie points on the Clackamas Application for doing one of their programs, working in the medical field w/ direct pt care and also if I get a job at one of their clinical partners for a total of 9 extra points. There are other schools where I will also get points for experience.

    PLUS in the meantime while I am working on getting accepted to a nursing program, I will have a job that pays a bit better and be gaining valuable knowledge and experience.
    Last edit by amberp83 on Jul 17, '08
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    Like others have said, it really depends on what schools you are applying to. PCC dosnt give any points they are lottery at least for one more year. CCC, gives points if you have taken the CNA, EMT, or MA course throu them, working with direct patient care, and if you work at one of their clinical sites. MT Hood, gives points it you are a CNA, but it is based on how many hours you have worked, 0-1 year full time is like 2 points and goes up from there. Linfield dosn't require a CNA, but if you have experience it is a good idea to include a resume.

    That said, being a MA, dosnt nessecarily mean more money than a CNA. If you are a CNA in LTC care you make less than a MA, but if you get a job in a hospital you can make more as a MA.
    I work in a ER, as a CNA, make about $1.50 more than MA in the same hospital system, and get to see much more. Where as a MA, you would have some experience of giving injections and blood draws.
    The hours for most MA are usually office or clinic hours so Mon-Fri 9-5. Where as a CNA the hours can be more flexiable.
    The cost of the MA program is more and takes longer than the CNA, the MA is a school year and the CNA is about 6 weeks.
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    Quote from KellT1203
    Banjoeer has a good point. It does take longer and costs more money to become an MA.

    Another thing I forgot to point out is that if you go to a community college for your MA you can use your courses towards your nursing degree. I am glad and upset that I went the way that I did.

    Glad because I know that nursing is where I ideally want to be. I just can't wait to start nursing school in September and get out there and dig my feet into the sand (work).

    Upset because I went to a trade school, spent WAY too much money and feel like I wasted time. But, I think I was really immature when I got out of high school, I didn't have great grades either. I barely graduated from high school.

    I would do your research. Either way you go, they are both great choices and will give you experience and you will learn so much.

    Banjoeer:

    I love your beer nursing experience. Thats great!! What a good laugh.

    I am really happy to read this reply in regards to CNA or CMA as I just posted a question on this myself and was wondering what route to take while studying to become a Cardio Technologist. I know CMA will take me 6 months with this one school I found in my area and I'll only be taking 1 class from my pre-reqs for the cardio but I do believe that I'll be doing something I'll enjoy more as a CMA then if I take a much quicker route of 10 wks as a CNA. I especially don't want to work in a retirement home taking people to potty, change them, wipe them, feed them etc. and that is probably why I just wouldn't be good if I were to choose to become an LPN or RN later on. Thanks a lot for your post as I am pretty sure I will just take those 6 months and go for the CMA !
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    Clatsop no longer offers patient care points.


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