LPN or Medical Assistant

  1. Which is a better career for a young parent...with a young child? This is a nursing website...so I know most of you will probably say LPN...but I don't really know anyone in the medical field so this is the only place I could think of for an opinion on this. Thanks in advance for replying

    Oh, and can you tell me the duties of an LPN? Googling things just isn't the same as asking someone that's actually in the field. I know what medical assistants do...it seems like I spend a lot of time in the doctors office o_O
    Last edit by Joe V on Nov 23, '16
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    About peppapig123

    Joined: Jan '11; Posts: 105; Likes: 46


  3. by   Juwon
    Hands down lpn, I am not biased. More opportunities, more room for advancement, better pay. There is a variety of jobs for lpns. You can work hospital if some still hire but that's few and far between, nursing home, rehab facilities, home care, hospice, and other fields Im sure I didn't get to. Medical assistants are mostly limited to doctor offices.
  4. by   DogWmn
    First, if your goal is to become a nurse do not become an MA.

    After that it will all depend on where you live and what your finances are. You have many options.

    You could get your CNA (certified nursing assistant) in a few short weeks and begin working in the nursing field either full time or part time, this will give you a view of what nurses actually do (both RN and LPN).

    Keep in mind the nursing field is oversaturated right now in many areas of the country, if you can be mobile and move to where there are jobs, you can then look at all your options.

    Next, again it will all depend on where you live, LPN's rarely work in hospitals anymore, most work in Long Term Care Facilities and other non-hospital environments. RN's pretty much can work anywhere they want and have many more options.

    I would suggest you look at getting your RN, you can take your pre-reqs while working and then go for the core nursing classes. Again, your finances will dictate what works for you and your situation. Many get their LPN first and then bridge over to an RN program.

    I'd first suggest going to several local schools and see what their waiting lists are like, at all cost stay away from the for profit schools if you can. Check the schools graduation and NCLEX pass rates, many schools will let you talk with students to get an idea of what it's like.
  5. by   mom3student
    I too asked this question, as medical assistant to me sounded like my ideal job! But in the end I have decided to go the LPN route as it offers much more options. Also in the doctor's office setting LPN and MA's have *similar* roles but quite a difference in pay. There are also things an Lpn can do that a ma can't do in a doctor's office setting limiting what you can do as an ma. I have a grade school-er and two toddlers and so far it hasn't been to bad but I am still doing prerequisites as a full time student.
  6. by   MarieYee
    It also depends on the cost of each program. Beware of the programs from tech/medical school you see advertised on tv. *cough* Everest *cough*
  7. by   AndiSN
    I absolutely say LPN hands down. With MA you can only go so far and your education doesn't help you if you decide to further your education down the line. With the LPN you can do a bridge program later on if you want to get you RN but you can't do that with the MA. An LPN can do all the things that an MA can do but not the other way around.
  8. by   abrn348
    I am an MA working towards becoming an RN. I would recommend that you go straight for RN, but if that's not an option, LVN would be best.

    First, LVNs advance more easily. There are more options available and it is possible to get in a fast track to RN program.

    Also the pay is better. Depending on where you work, you may or may not have the same duties as an LVN, but the pay is going to be low. I have worked at a large clinic where LVNs, MAs, and an RN worked. At that place, the nurses got the nicer job descriptions and more money. I have also worked at a small clinic where only MAs were employed and we did everything. I got a lot of experience, but still was paid as an MA. Now, I work at a hospital as a PCT. There are very few LVNs there, as they are being phased out at many hospitals. However, there is one on my floor, and she is a nurse with a few limitations in what she is allowed to do, and I am a tech.

    Furthermore, if you think that the market is flooded with nurses, the situation is far worse for MAs. As far as I know, only 2 other MAs in my class are working in the medical field at all! It's not just my class, either. At the small clinic I worked in, we always had MA externs around. When they graduated, they generally didn't get jobs. These vocational schools churn out as many MAs as they can, charging more money than many nursing programs, while lying about what a shortage there is, how you will be able to work anywhere, and how great the money will be. Because it's such a short program, a lot of people are drawn to it

    Sorry this has been such a long post, but I feel strongly about the topic. If you want a quality education, go for a nursing degree. Usually your MA courses don't transfer anywhere, so if you want a nursing degree later, you start from scratch. Your opportunities as an MA are usually limited to doctor's offices. I was lucky to get a hospital job. MAs aren't really trained for that. Also, while MAs can be perfectly intelligent people, you just don't learn the assessment and critical thinking skills that you get in nursing school. I have heard some pretty scary things said to patients by MAs over the years. Not because they are dumb, but because they are often encouraged by the doctors employing them to basically be nurses for rock-bottom prices, and an MA program doesn't prepare you for that. It's just not fair to you, the patients, or the more qualified people who could do the job.
  9. by   peppapig123
    Do lpn's work 12 hr shifts like rn's? I don't really like the idea of that. I kind of wanted to be a medical assistant just because I know they have a 9-5 type of schedule, and working in a dr.'s office might be fun.....but I do think I'd ultimately like to be a nurse one day.

    You have all made good points, I'd like to be able to advance and have more opportunities....and a decent paycheck would be nice also lol. I have a few months before I start school in spring, so I still have some time to decide.

    :::EDIT: ABRN348-wow, you've really opened my eyes about medical assisting...I actually do know quite a few people going to school for it. Unless you go to community college, the MA programs around here (I live in cleveland) are pretty expensive...I took a tour of remington...they said $16,000 for an 8 month program....I would have had to take out 11,000 in loans :/ I think I may just go with the lpn program at my comm. college.
    Last edit by peppapig123 on Oct 11, '11
  10. by   abrn348
    Your schedule depends on where you work. LPNs can work in offices too.
  11. by   ChristineN
    Quote from hopefullyfuturenurse
    Do lpn's work 12 hr shifts like rn's? I don't really like the idea of that. I kind of wanted to be a medical assistant just because I know they have a 9-5 type of schedule, and working in a dr.'s office might be fun.....but I do think I'd ultimately like to be a nurse one day.

    LPN's, MA's, and RN's all have the potential to work 8hr shifts. If you are in a doctor's office, school nurse, long term care/rehab facility, and homecare you are more likely to find 8hr shifts. Some floors in hospitals do 8hr shifts, but the majority are 12hrs.
  12. by   realnursealso/LPN
    LPN vs. MA vs. CNA ??? HELP
    LPN versus CMA
    NEED ADVICE Lpn or Medical assistant?
    Check these threads out, this topic has been discussed many times. I'll even put a link to the search page for that question:
  13. by   Cuddleswithpuddles
    I am definitely biased as a LVN turned RN but, objectively, the LVN has a far larger scope of practice, choice in work settings and more room for advancement.

    Another thing to consider though: The length of time to become a LVN and a MA may be somewhat comparable. Here in CA a LVN program is a year full-time, MA programs are about 8-9 months. However, ask what the daily schedules are like. My LVN program was 5 days a week, 8-12 hour days on campus or in clinicals throughout the spring, summer and fall semesters. My RN programs schedule was far less break-neck actually. This is a HUGE factor to consider, especially since you have little ones to look after.

    Good luck!
  14. by   Juwon
    Even more, not trying to center around money, but i have never known of a medical assistant to clear over six figures a year, but i do know LPNs who have done so, usually average 60 to 70 thousand a year though. Medical assistants pay usually suck and if you are raising little ones, money is something that needs to be considered. In ny area medical assistants start around $3 more per hour than the going minimal wage and doesn't slow nearly the flexibility of working two jobs like you can as a nurse.