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Differences between Medical Assistants and Registered Nurses?

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by MA2006 MA2006 (Member) Member

MA2006 has 1 years experience and specializes in Med-Surg.

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nursesaideBen specializes in Medical Telemetry, LTC,AlF, Skilled care.

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Training to be a CMA really just varies state to state and even program to program, where I live there are a couple medical assisting programs that result in an associate degree in medical assisting. It used to be that medical assistants didn't have to have ANY formal training and while it has a long way to go, the profession has come a LONG way.

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Is that a patient care tech?

I dont think there is anywhere in my area that trains for that, but I could pick up phlebotomy. I would really like to do EKGs: don't know where I could get that training though. I did memorize a boatload of arrythmias, call me crazy;)

So, if I could gather some of these skills, I would not be that far behind anyhow? I have spent some considerable time on medical vocabulary, but I would rather put a cigar out in my right eye than to work a clerical position. UGH!

Yea PCT is patient care tech. In my facility there is a class offered, and then afterwards you just have to get check off on the certain procedures you are allowed to do by a nurse.

Check around, many hospitals or facilities will offer their own classes.

Rebecca

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clyen specializes in Oncology and Perioperative.

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A lot of things in this forum! :nuke:

I did an MA program before going to nursing school, and I learned so much more during my present schooling than I did my MA program (1 semester to go, then I'll be dreading the NCLEX more!). In my training, we took 6 weeks of A&P, 6 weeks medical terminology, etc. A 6 week block isn't enough to learn more than the very basic stuff. One of my instructors while going through the MA program actually stated that she thought eventually MAs would be allowed to work in hospitals because of the nursing shortage - according to her, we were only 1 or 2 classes away from an LPN anyhow. As I learned, that's an incorrect statement. Unless more monitoring of MA training is done, and more schooling, MAs don't need to be in a hospital setting since the critical thinking skills needed to properly care for patients is lacking. As an MA, you're taught how to give injections and draw blood. You are not taught the reasons why the injections/venipuncture is necessary. MAs aren't taught that lab values should be X & Y, they just place the lab results on the patient chart, and put it on the physician's desk. I'm not picking on MAs, don't get me wrong, since I've been one. However, the skills learned for MAs are more proper for a clinic/office than they are outside of that setting. I'm so glad I went back to school for my BSN, even if it is heck at times. Even though there are times I feel dumb trying to learn it, I stop & remember it's more than I knew during my MA class/jobs as an MA. :icon_roll

Regarding the PCT stuff, PhoenixGirl must have a wonderful & trusting facility. If their PCTs can do not just vitals but also phlebotomy, EKGs and other microbiology tests, that's great. In our facility, PCTs are pretty much stuck to CNA duties. I guess the abilities of a PCT will vary from facility to facility, depending on how much that facility wants to be liable for any errors made on behalf of the PCT (unless they recommend the PCT to carry Liability Insurance).

So much to learn, not just from school but others in the field. We all show how vast differences are depending on where you're at, from MA training to PCT duties!

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"* Provides care to patients. Assists patients with personal hygiene, nutrition, comfort, and safety. Maintains comfortable, orderly, safe, and clean environment.

* Prepares patients for examinations. Provides routine information related to medical treatments and procedures.

* Measures and records vital signs. Collects specimens.

* Prepares examining rooms. Selects and lays out medical supplies. Maintains medical equipment.

* Records and reports patient information. Retrieves laboratory test results and patient files.

* Escorts patients and visitors.

* Orders and maintains inventory of supplies.

* Performs clerical functions related to medical activities."

This sounds more like a CNA to me... and they need 12 months of school for this? OK... so maybe a fancy CNA...

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chadash specializes in Nursing assistant.

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"* Provides care to patients. Assists patients with personal hygiene, nutrition, comfort, and safety. Maintains comfortable, orderly, safe, and clean environment.

* Prepares patients for examinations. Provides routine information related to medical treatments and procedures.

* Measures and records vital signs. Collects specimens.

* Prepares examining rooms. Selects and lays out medical supplies. Maintains medical equipment.

* Records and reports patient information. Retrieves laboratory test results and patient files.

* Escorts patients and visitors.

* Orders and maintains inventory of supplies.

* Performs clerical functions related to medical activities."

This sounds more like a CNA to me... and they need 12 months of school for this? OK... so maybe a fancy CNA...

If this is the job description of a MA, you are right, a CNA could do this. (But, frankly, I can't get a job scrubbing floors at this point ;) )

I thought there were more skills involved, EKGs and what not.

BUT not nursing skills.

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I have been working as an MA and an EMT-I for a couple of years and am currently getting my associates in nursing. I was hired without the official MA education because of my combined CNA and EMT background. Nurses obviously walk away from their education with significantly more knowledge than an MA, is given greater responsibility, and can work in a variety of settings. What probably fuels your friend is the fact that MAs have replaced RNs in the doctors offices and seem to be doing the same tasks at roughly half the pay - pt assessment, pt education, injections, phlebotomy, simple lab tests, phone triage, assisting the provider with procedures (mole and cyst removals, colpos, etc). I almost daily had to explain to a pt that I was not a nurse.

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You may not have been taught in school why the injection or blood test was necessary, but I found out why if I didn't already know. I wouldn't feel comfortable administering a drug and not knowing why. Pts almost always asked questions that I wanted to have the answers to. I also had to call pts with their lab results; I was expected to be able to explain what the test was looking for and what the results meant.

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I've just finished my MA school, so I'm up on this! :)

Our AAMA national "scope of practice" is located here: http://www.aama-ntl.org/resources/library/Role-delineation-2003.pdf I'll attach it below. Granted, all MAs don't have the same training.... a lot aren't in the AAMA which requires CEUs and has higher standards for schooling. I took A&P, and it was the half year course that the LPNs in our school take, as well as the EMTs. We also had Human Disease, Medical Terminology, plus all the general Ed, computer classes, and clinical classes in order to get the Associate's degree. No, we didn't take Micro or Chemistry.

I had 220 hours of externship (which I just finished) in a doctor's office. I'm a back office assistant, so it may be a lot different for administrative MAs. The MAs main duties where I was placed were rooming patients, getting vitals, asking which medications they were on and what their chief complaint was; drawing up and giving injections, drawing blood, running EKGs, performing pulse ox and peak flow and nebulizers; running UA, Hgb, Hct, glucose, audiometer and Snellen vision tests; assisting with minor office surgeries such as colposcopies, mole removals, etc; refilling prescriptions, getting prior authorizations for prescriptions, carrying out any doctors orders for patients (mailing out diet info, etc), calling patients to deliver lab results, answering phones, answering whatever questions we could and delivering the rest to the MD; sterilizing equipment in the autoclave which involved knowing what procedure took what equipment so that it was autoclaved in the same pkg; stocking and ordering supplies. I didn't do any up front duties, but we could also schedule patients, do referrals, coding, etc.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself, even though there wasn't a spare minute sometimes to even think. Now I'm out looking for a job. In the next 2 years, I WILL be going back to school to take Chem, A&P (the harder 2 semester version), and Micro.... so I can apply to Physician Assistant school. Why did I do the MA then? You have to have so many hours of patient care experience to get into PA school, and I prefer doing that in a doctors office where I have repeat patients, rather than in a hospital as a CNA. I also didn't want to do LTC. I love being an MA!

Sadly, the other office personnel didn't understand that we were MAs and not nurses. I would hear them on the phone saying "I'll let you speak to his nurse". Then, the patients don't understand what MAs are either, and assume you are a nurse. Even if you correct them, they still don't get what we do. That's the main reason MAs want a real national group, like the AAMA.... to get the word out so people know we aren't trying to take Nursing Jobs-- we have to much to do with just the MA responsibilities!!! I have no desire to be a nurse, though some of my classmates do and are going back to school for that as well.

Ok, here's the AAMA's list of duties:

Medical Assistant Role Delineation Chart

 

CLINICAL

Apply principles of aseptic technique and infection control

Comply with quality assurance practices

Screen and follow up patient test results

Collect and process specimens

Perform diagnostic tests

Adhere to established patient screening procedures

Obtain patient history and vital signs

Prepare and maintain examination and treatment areas

Prepare patient for examinations, procedures and treatments

Assist with examinations, procedures and treatments

Prepare and administer medications and immunizations

Maintain medication and immunization records

Recognize and respond to emergencies

Coordinate patient care information with other health care providers

Initiate IV and administer IV medications with appropriate training and as permitted by state law

 

ADMINISTRATIVE

Perform basic administrative medical assisting functions

Schedule, coordinate and monitor appointments

Schedule inpatient/outpatient admissions and procedures

Understand and apply third-party guidelines

Obtain reimbursement through accurate claims submission

Monitor third-party reimbursement

Understand and adhere to managed care policies and procedures

Negotiate managed care contracts

Perform procedural and diagnostic coding

Apply bookkeeping principles

Manage accounts receivable

Manage accounts payable

Process payroll

Document and maintain accounting and banking records

Develop and maintain fee schedules

Manage renewals of business and professional insurance policies

Manage personnel benefits and maintain records

Perform marketing, financial, and strategic planning

 

GENERAL

Display a professional manner and image

Demonstrate initiative and responsibility

Work as a member of the health care team

Prioritize and perform multiple tasks

Adapt to change

Promote the CMA credential

Enhance skills through continuing education

Treat all patients with compassion and empathy

Promote the practice through positive public relations

Recognize and respect cultural diversity

Adapt communications to individual's ability to understand

Use professional telephone technique

Recognize and respond effectively to verbal, nonverbal, and written communications

Use medical terminology appropriately

Utilize electronic technology to receive, organize, prioritize and transmit information

Serve as liaison

Perform within legal and ethical boundaries

Prepare and maintain medical records

Document accurately

Follow employer's established policies dealing with the health care contract

Implement and maintain federal and state health care legislation and regulations

Comply with established risk management and safety procedures

Recognize professional credentialing criteria

Develop and maintain personnel, policy and procedure manuals

Instruct individuals according to their needs

Explain office policies and procedures

Teach methods of health promotion and disease prevention

Locate community resources and disseminate information

Develop educational materials

Conduct continuing education activities

Perform inventory of supplies and equipment

Perform routine maintenance of administrative and clinical equipment

Apply computer techniques to support office operations

Perform personnel management functions

Negotiate leases and prices for equipment and supply contracts

 

 

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61 Posts; 1,594 Profile Views

Medical Assisting is a totally different avenue than LPN or RN. They assist us (very much) but here in CT they work under the direction of the LPN's and RN's. They assist w/ lab collection, VS etc. Here in CT they can't medicate, give injections, perform nursing assessment for the doctors or legally use NANDA's. They are not any closer to the LPN than they are to the RN.

If any comparison would be made, it would be the LPN & RN are in the same field line-up. The LPN can't start IV's & the RN can. But, give the LPN certification & she can start the IV (this isn't an available option for the MA). The LPN can't do the admitting physical here in CT....but they continue the assessment's until DC. The MA's pay here in CT is about $12/h & the LPN is about $25 (new grad) The RN about $28(new grad).

Although the MA/patient care assistant are a vital part of our team, they don't have the same education as the LPN/RN. As nurses we may lack the insurance/clerical part of the medical field...as the MA's get this type of training. ottom line we are all very different but, we need each other to provide adequate patient care. I can't care for my patients properly if I didn't have a MA/CNA/PCT to assist me. When you care for 30 patients...you better hope the is a good assistant there as your right hand!

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CritterLover is a BSN, RN and specializes in ER, ICU, Infusion, peds, informatics.

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is that a patient care tech?

i dont think there is anywhere in my area that trains for that, but i could pick up phlebotomy. i would really like to do ekgs: don't know where i could get that training though. i did memorize a boatload of arrythmias, call me crazy;)

so, if i could gather some of these skills, i would not be that far behind anyhow? i have spent some considerable time on medical vocabulary, but i would rather put a cigar out in my right eye than to work a clerical position. ugh!

i worked as a pct while in nursing school. that was in arizona, where pcts seem to be used quite a bit. i think it is a regional thing, because i don't see them used here in the south at all. in addition to ekgs and phlebotomy, we learned basic sterile procedures like catheters and dressing chagnes.

 

just to clarify: when we say "ekgs," we mean how to run the test, not how to interpret. if you are interested in learning arrythmias, then you might be interested in being a "monitor tech," which is a position on a telemetry floor that keeps an eye on the monitiors and notifies the nurse of any changes. very important on many floors where those are the only monitors (that is, there are no "central" monitors in the nurses station where the nurse can see the patient's rhythm).

 

much of this training can be on-the-job. i would be a little leary of paying a bunch of money to go to a technical school when you can be paid to get the same training at some facilities. you may need to take an entry-level position in the begining and let them know you are interested in advancing you skills, though.

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Elektra6 has 14 years experience as a ASN, BSN, RN and specializes in Home Health, LTC, subacute.

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When I was waiting to get in my LPN program from our county, I contacted one of the private career schools in the area. They tried to sell me on a MA program (for 12K) stating that LPNs can't give injections and MAs can! I have heard similar bunk from other MA students around here. If I wanted to be a medical assistant, my county school has an MA program that was highly rated for about 6K less than the private school. I am glad I waited for my public LPN program instead of being bullied into their school! You really have to do your homework and get out there and talk to people who are working in the field you are interested in. Don't just go by what the schools tell you. They want your $$$$$.:specs:

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Yeah, watch the schools.. I thankfully went to a community college, which in California is VERY cheap... $26 a credit hour. Tech schools often aren't accredited by the CAAHEP, the AAMA accrediting authority.

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