What is your opinion of medical assistants?

  1. As you could see from my profile, I work as a CNA in a medical office, we specialize in pain managment, while I'm going to nursing school (ADN). One of the women I work with is also a CNA and is going to school to be a CMA. Now, while I have done some research and know that often times, CMAs can perform many skills that nurses (both LPN and RN) can legally perform, such as administering medications, doing vital signs, and a few other things applicable to a physican's office, I also know that a CMA does not equal a nurse, neither LPN or RN.

    The woman seems to believe that a CMA is the same as a PA (Physican's Assistant), which obviously it's not.
    For example: Our lab (we do urine drug screens) was short handed one day and another of my coworker's daughters filled in for the lab. The daughter and the woman going to school to be a CMA were in the breakroom when the daughter asked what a CMA was. She was told that it was "one step below a DO," of couse, the girl didn't know what a DO is, and she informed her that once she's certified she'll be able to sign prescriptions... Sure, that's legal.

    Now, mind you, the office manager was told of this and she had a "meeting" with the woman to clear up these "issues." But, she still thinks that a CMA is higher than an RN.

    Anyway, I thought I'd reach out to some RNs and ask what your opinion is of CMAs in general, and things like if they should be made to think that they are better then RNs because they do medical records, etc. Any input would be appreciated.

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    About MissJulie

    Joined: Sep '10; Posts: 216; Likes: 112
    Student/MVA Accounts Manager for Pain Management Office; from US


  3. by   ckh23
    Tell her not to call you when she is in jail for signing prescriptions. This sounds like a person just trying to make herself feel more important by exaggerating what duties she will be able to do. Then again she really could be that delusional.
  4. by   roser13
    It's hard to generalize about an entire profession. As usual, there are those MA's who are outstanding in what they do and who do not overreach. Then there are those who without a doubt feel that they are next to the physician in stature and clinical skills.

    It has occurred to me over the years that you are most likely to find the latter type of MA in a specialized practice that is not willing to pay nursing salaries. There are no clinical personnel other than the physician. The MA is likely running the office and the surgeon comes to depend upon them, often to the detriment of the patients. Patients always assume that the spokesperson for the MD who answers all their questions and phones in their scripts is a nurse and relies on their medical advice. I encounter this day after day in my practice with pre-op patients who relay the horrendous "nursing" advice given by the surgeons' MA's. This giving of medical advice and overall assumption of the nursing role is often subtlely if not overtly encouraged by the physician.

    I have also observed that the MA's tend to take on the attitude of "their" surgeon.....if he/she is an arrogant buffoon who bullies everyone in their path, the MA seems to feel entitled to do the same, often with the support of the surgeon.

    Again, not trying to generalize an entire profession.....just my observations.
  5. by   foreverLaur
    CMAs are definitely below a RN in terms of both training and knowledge. CMAs are trained in some back office skills as well as front office skills. They have no knowledge of nursing assessment or nursing care plans.

    IMO, the ranking goes CMA < LPN < RN < NP/PA < MD/DO

    First off, it is physician assistant, not physician's assistant. A PA is not "owned" by a doctor. Secondly, PAs and NPs are fairly equal in terms of the jobs they do. A PA completes something similar to "mini medical school" and works collaboratively with physicians as a midlevel provider. In terms of education and knowledge, a PA would be best compared with a nurse practitioner.
  6. by   Little Panda RN
    I used to be a CMA and never once did I claim to be a nurse. This person sounds very delusional to me!
  7. by   lrobinson5
    Maybe the school she is going to is pumping up the students? I can see why they would lie, trying to justify charging so much for training. I don't know what to say... the medical assistant at my daughter's clinic is wonderful, and she definitely knows that MA's are not higher or equal to an RN. She actually wants to go for an ADN at some point. I've had very positive experiences with those that I have met.
  8. by   MissJulie
    Thanks for the responses! I do think that she has a clouded view of what she's going to school for, and of course, I hope she realizes that she's not going to be equal to a nurse, neither an LPN nor an RN.
    I wonder, though, if the school is selling them lies, or if she's making it up as she goes along!
    Anyway, thanks again!
  9. by   Liz, RN
    Wow!!! Her attitude is unbelievable!!!!!
  10. by   rayne215
    Im a RN nursing student, my gf (not close) is in a tech school for MA , when we talked about our schooling she was so happy that shell be done b4 me and be a 'nurse' i told her ill have my BSN in 2 yrs , she tried to convince me that being a MA was the way to go
    she keeps saying shes in nursing school, i try to correct her and she says 'same thing;

    scrubs dont make everyone a nurse

  11. by   lindarn
    For this woman to believe, that she is somehow the equivalent to a Physician Assistant, or a DO, which is another flavor of MD, leads me to think that she is indeed delusional, or has been sold a pack of lies.

    How can someone who has gone through an MA program think that she is almost equal to a doctor?
    JMHO and my NY $0.02.

    Lindarn, RN, BSN, CCRN
    Somewhere in the PACNW
  12. by   evolvingrn
    i think that person is just a little 'off' my drs office uses cma's and they seem to have clearly defined roles that are appropriate for their training.
  13. by   MrChicagoRN
    Quote from rayne215
    Im a RN nursing student, my gf (not close) is in a tech school for MA , when we talked about our schooling she was so happy that shell be done b4 me and be a 'nurse' i told her ill have my BSN in 2 yrs , she tried to convince me that being a MA was the way to go
    she keeps saying shes in nursing school, i try to correct her and she says 'same thing;
    Nurse is a protected title and can only legally be used by LPN-LPN-RN licensed by the state. Yes, she can face criminal charges for misrepresenting herself.
  14. by   SummitRN
    My local doctor's office uses a mix of EMT-B/IVs given on-the-job training and CMAs. Both are competent, but I definitely prefer the EMTs.

    A clinic I worked at had a mix of on-the-job trained assistants and CMAs. All were competent, but the providers preferred me as an EMT-B/IV and the assistants they trained on the job.

    I took an MA pharm class at a community college with an AAS-CMA program just to expand my knowledge. It was laughable to call the content college level.

    When I teach CPR, I always like to ask students why they are taking a class. A student from the same MA program informed me that she was going to be an MA so she could work in the ER. I was like "oh, what hospitals are using MAs in the ER?" She assured me that according to her instructor all the ERs would want to hire her. I kind of raised my eyebrow and nodded politely.

    I have seen a lot of CMAs crosstrained as EKG techs and used in cardiac outpatient clinics. They were very good at hooking up the EKGs, but they couldn't interp a lick. "That's for doctors."