Medical assistants and LPNs

  1. HI all,

    I have just finished a medical assisting program and im now looking for a job. I have noticed alot of job openings for lpn but nothing for medical assistants. I was wondering first of all what is the difference? I can pretty much do everything an lpn can do. I was wondering if I applied to lpn positions would I be a candidate for lpn positions or would I be wasting my time? Please somebody answer my question I would greatly appreciate the advice.
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    About Angela Ma

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 1

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  3. by   work4choc
    *I can pretty much do everything an lpn can do. *

    Actually, no. But I will let the LPNs cover that as they can explain it better than I.

    Around here, MAs can apply for patient tech positions, EKG techs, HUCs etc.... in addition to regular clinic work. If you are having trouble finding MA jobs in offices, check the local hospitals for tech jobs. See if any labs are hiring phlebotomy techs or clinical lab assistants.

    You could not sub for an LPN in a position that requires a nursing license but some dr offices hire LPNs and MAs to do basically similar jobs so you can always apply for those kinds of openings in the event that they will hire an MA instead but I cannot imagine a hospital or nursing facility would hire an MA to do an LPN's job. Its a licensed position (LPN) versus an unlicensed caregiver position (MA).

    Good luck. There is a medical assistant forum that might be helpful for you but I don't have the link right now.
  4. by   Tweety
    There is a practice licensed by the state for the LPN that include duties you are not able to perform. Yes there are "tasks" that are similar. You will be wasting your time I'm afraid.

    Good luck!
  5. by   Kidaroo102
    "Actually, no. But I will let the LPNs cover that as they can explain it better than I."


    Not to be a devil's advocate but in reality MA's can do the same as an LPN and sometimes even more......Medical Assistant's work under a physicians liscense and are not regulated by the Nursing Board. If a physician is confident in a MA's skills and directs the MA to do a task then by law as long as they have been trained to do the task they can perform it.

    In Alaska this is the norm not the exception. Physicians and hospitals are hiring MA's because there is more flexability in the position as an MA, than an LPN. They are hiring Certified MA's that have taken national certification tests not just OJT MA's. They are also looking at the educational facility where the training was completed. CAAHEP and ABHES approved facilities are those that are having 88-95% placement for thier MA's here.
  6. by   txspadequeenRN
    doctors office's hire ma's because they can employee them for cheaper and rightly so they do not have the educational background a lvn does. if a hospital is hiring ma's then it is not in a nurse role but more in the line of a tech position.


    ****old thread alert****

    Quote from kidaroo102
    "actually, no. but i will let the lpns cover that as they can explain it better than i."


    not to be a devil's advocate but in reality ma's can do the same as an lpn and sometimes even more......medical assistant's work under a physicians liscense and are not regulated by the nursing board. if a physician is confident in a ma's skills and directs the ma to do a task then by law as long as they have been trained to do the task they can perform it.

    in alaska this is the norm not the exception. physicians and hospitals are hiring ma's because there is more flexability in the position as an ma, than an lpn. they are hiring certified ma's that have taken national certification tests not just ojt ma's. they are also looking at the educational facility where the training was completed. caahep and abhes approved facilities are those that are having 88-95% placement for thier ma's here.
  7. by   CHATSDALE
    a md office can hire pretty much whom they chose even someone off the street
    hospitals and other similiar facilities are required by state to have licensed personnel
  8. by   Kidaroo102
    I am not trying to convince anyone, but MA's are working on the floors in clinical positions, not just tech positions. If you compare an LPN program to an MA program up here there are almost NO differences. MA's here are trained in surgical procedures, IV therapy, pharmacology...ect. positions at hospitals are advertised LPN/MA. They are not at a loss for the liscensing issue because MA's fall under the physicains liscense and they are nationally certified just like an EMT would. In Alaska they fall under the State Medical Board.
  9. by   suzanne4
    Would be surprised that a hospital would hire them to function in that role, since there is no malpractice insurance available for them without a license.

    And in the realm of the hospital, they also are under the Board of Pharmacy as well in administering medications. The physician is not there and therefore cannot be held accountable for their actions.

    If a hospital wishes to do that, and have not seen any that do, then they have to deal with the consequences. And you may see jobs offered for the MA, but again, that would be in a clinic type setting where the nurse was working on with patients belonging to that one physician or group of doctors. But have never seen any hospital ever in the world hire someone that is unlicensed. And being under the Board of Medicine still does not give one a license to practice.

    The MA cannot sign out medications either in the hospital floor setting as well to administer to a patient as they do not hold a license for that. And it is not the clinic setting where the physician is taking responsibility for it.
  10. by   suzanne4
    And if there is ever a lawsuit, guess who is going to lose bigtime? That person will be hung out to dry by any attorney for the opposing side.

    You can call it whatever you wish, but the training between the two programs are different and only the LPN is licensed, not the MA.
  11. by   Kidaroo102
    Quote from suzanne4
    And if there is ever a lawsuit, guess who is going to lose bigtime? That person will be hung out to dry by any attorney for the opposing side.

    You can call it whatever you wish, but the training between the two programs are different and only the LPN is licensed, not the MA.
    It is interesting you should say that because if you look at the Dept. of Labor Occupational Statistics the training components are the same. Also HPSO- Health Professionals Service Organization that has been in business for over 25 years offers malpractice insurance to Certified Medical Assistants. The certification is treated just like the liscensure. It's a national third party test given for competency. CMA programs have clinical rotations just like LPN students do. If an Honest Objective look is taken at the two professions the only difference is the regulatory board. The state nursing board covers LPN's and the state medical board covers MA's.

    I don't know what the big pinch is in the nursing community about CMA's. In Alaska there is ONE nursing program for RN's one 2 yr and one 4 yr at the university. With the lack of nursing instructors they allow 30 students each program twice a year. This has created a greater need for medical professionals. MA's are filling the gap for the RN shortfall.

    I am not saying that one is better than the other I am simply stating that CMA's with a physician that trains them can do MORE than and LPN in some states, specifically Alaska. I have administered narcotics IV, per a doctors order and according to the state nursing board here a LPN can't do that. And we can administer medications as well as dispense them under the physicians order in Alaska. It does vary from state to state, but here we are allowed to by law.
  12. by   pagandeva2000
    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.
  13. by   kythe
    I know it depends on the state, but in my area there is a big difference between MA's and LPN's. I was an MA for several years before going back to LPN, and I see a big difference.

    Locally, MA's generally work in doctor's offices or clinics. The only hospital positions for MA's are either in medical records or as a unit clerk, where there is nothing hands-on with patients, or as a phlebotomist in a hospital-attached lab. The only context I've seen MA's handle medication is giving injections in a doctor's office or clinic, such as administering vaccines. MA's don't go anywhere near IV's (even LPN's need to be "IV certified" before being eligible to work in a hospital) and I haven't really heard of MA's being used in tech positions on hospital floors here.

    My training for MA vs LPN was very different, especially because LPN training is longer (especially when you include prereqs such as A&P, chemistry, and psychology) and so much more intense once you get into the program. MA's use a lot of technical skills, but LPN's have a much more substantial background in theory and have greater job responsibilities.

    As an LPN, I have several skills I would never have gained as an MA, such as wound care, assessments, pharmacology theory and medication administration (with exception of giving injections). There are technical skills I used as an MA that I no longer need, though I'm sure specific skills depend a lot on the field you go into. I do a lot more critical thinking now, and have a lot more responsibility than I ever did as an MA.
    Last edit by kythe on Apr 27, '08
  14. by   pagandeva2000
    Yes, there is a big difference! The medical assisting class I took was for about two months and the skills were very basic, although I didn't see it that way at the time. I was in an LPN program in a community college that offered a bridge program to RN, so, the requirements were to take most of the same pre-requisites as the RN students. Taking college level anatomy versus what I learned in CNA and Medical Assisting was a shocker, to say the least. Then came the nutrition class, the learning of the pathophysiology of the diseases (where anatomy comes in heavily), nurse-initiated interventions, microbiology and pharmacology is broken down much more differently and more detailed. This would also apply to the RN compared to the LPN programs.

    I can honestly say that I have seen some very, very high functioning Medical Assistants. I still refer to some of the notes about specimen collection and diagnostic tests from that class, and I did see how some MAs were able to perform things that I have not in my clinic setting in the hospital. This is based on where the person practices (MA or LPN), which can expose a person to more. And, anyone will be a master of where they practice the most often. However, the nursing license verses their certification is what will open more doors and allow more exposure for most LPNs.

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