Medical Assistant or Straight to BSN?

  1. Hello all!


    (Please excuse any typos I may look over while the typing from my phone. I'm very new to posting here.)


    So, this may seem like a very obvious question, I know, but I'll give you a little insight.


    I have been pursuing an associates degree for nursing (on and off) for about 6 years now. It's taken so long due to serious life issues getting in the way, however, things are better, now.


    Now, I originally planned to take a path of ASN>BSN>MSN, but people always tell me to just go for my bsn, so I'm thinking that's what I'll do. The issue that I'm having is choosing whether to spend a couple more years working retail and going to school to finish my BSN, or becoming a medical assistant (the program I'm considering is a certificate program for 8-9 months) and finishing the BSN later on. Becoming a CNA has been considered before, but I'm more interested in MA. I also know a couple MA's who say they can get me a job once I'm done with school.


    I'm currently going into my mid-twenties, living with family. I'm not being forced out in anyway, and I definitely contribute, but (at the risk of sounding naive) everyone wants to feel completely independent, you know? I know having family help you with a place to stay while going to school is amazing, I just feel like I'm getting too old for it, but my current job definitely doesn't cut it.


    Keep in mind, I've taken a lot of my prerequisites. I've actually taken anatomy twice (which is the cut off for my university's BSN degree). Most of my general courses are done. I'd have mostly science and math courses left for prerequisites. In the University I'm considering, when all prerequisites are completed, the actual nursing program they offer will range from Full time, Part time, or 16 months (fast track).


    I feel like I'm just rambling so I'll stop there, but if any of you could answer my question and offer advice, that would be greatly appreciated!

  2. Poll: Medical Assistant or BSN

    • BSN! Duh!

      90.00% 9
    • Medical Assisting! Why not?

      10.00% 1
    10 Votes
  3. Visit FlowerAD profile page

    About FlowerAD

    Joined: Feb '14; Posts: 4

    12 Comments

  4. by   meanmaryjean
    The problem with MA is it is less applicable to nursing AND it sort of locks you into clinic hours - which is not flexible for nursing school. MA program is going to cost you money and time- and not really move you towards RN- your ultimate goal.

    If I were you, do the ADN, get a job and let your employer help you pay for an RN-to-BSN program while you bring home RN wages.
  5. by   mackenstadtb
    it sounds like your pretty set on being in the medical field but have you every worked in a clinical setting?

    I became a MA first to see if it was a good fit. I have been a MA for 6 years now and have gained a lot of good experience in multiple different specialties that will help me in nursing school. Because you have done most of your pre reqs you should probably just go for your BSN because most likely your MA courses will not be transferable to a BSN program and the cost of a MA program, at least in Oregon where I am, was around 13,000. I would say as long as you are sure nursing is for you RUN with it and go get that BSN but if your wanting to gain experience in the medical field first becoming a MA is a great choice.

    I am applying for a nursing program that starts in November and as a medical assistant I will be working nights and weekends in urgent care. I am lucky enough to have an employer that is willing to work with my school schedule. Best of luck to yo.
    Last edit by mackenstadtb on Jul 1 : Reason: adding
  6. by   caliotter3
    Your friends promise you an MA job, but I would not take that to the bank. You are better off pursuing a nursing degree from the start. If you want to help your cause, then become a nursing assistant.
  7. by   111th
    If you're looking to get more relevant nursing experience... I think becoming a CNA will get you a lot more exposure and have more flexible hours for nursing school. And at least in Florida....you'd be making close to the same amount of money. I have worked alongside MAs who are fantastic, but the education and thought process is vastly different. You'd likely have some good injection and medication skills but you'd work in an office or urgent care and it would t help a ton if you were to work inpatient later.

    If you wanted to spend 8-9 months in a program before becoming an RN, I'd recommend going through an LPN program which is typically 11-12 months. Then you would have great nursing experience and could do an LPN-RN bridge program.

    Just my opinion.
  8. by   FlowerAD
    To "meanmaryjean,"

    Thank you for your reply! That's a very great point. I'll have to think about what you said. Thanks, again.
  9. by   FlowerAD
    Quote from mackenstadtb
    it sounds like your pretty set on being in the medical field but have you every worked in a clinical setting?

    I became a MA first to see if it was a good fit. I have been a MA for 6 years now and have gained a lot of good experience in multiple different specialties that will help me in nursing school. Because you have done most of your pre reqs you should probably just go for your BSN because most likely your MA courses will not be transferable to a BSN program and the cost of a MA program, at least in Oregon where I am, was around 13,000. I would say as long as you are sure nursing is for you RUN with it and go get that BSN but if your wanting to gain experience in the medical field first becoming a MA is a great choice.

    I am applying for a nursing program that starts in November and as a medical assistant I will be working nights and weekends in urgent care. I am lucky enough to have an employer that is willing to work with my school schedule. Best of luck to yo.
    Thanks for the advice! I'm about 90% sure on pursuing nursing. The other 10% is mostly fear/anxiety getting in the way. I definitely have a lot to think about.
  10. by   FlowerAD
    Quote from 111th
    If you're looking to get more relevant nursing experience... I think becoming a CNA will get you a lot more exposure and have more flexible hours for nursing school. And at least in Florida....you'd be making close to the same amount of money. I have worked alongside MAs who are fantastic, but the education and thought process is vastly different. You'd likely have some good injection and medication skills but you'd work in an office or urgent care and it would t help a ton if you were to work inpatient later.

    If you wanted to spend 8-9 months in a program before becoming an RN, I'd recommend going through an LPN program which is typically 11-12 months. Then you would have great nursing experience and could do an LPN-RN bridge program.

    Just my opinion.
    Hey, I truly appreciate your response. I have thought about an LPN program and I'd love to do it. However, the only college that I trust where I live doesn't offer the LPN program anymore. Trust meaning, I dont want to get scammed or anything. There is a trade school that offers it, but they have a tuition of about $20,000 for a 12 month course, and about $6,000 could be paid by Fafsa. The rest would have to be loaned. As far as becoming a CNA, I'll have to rethink that for sure. I'm starting to reconsider the whole MA thing.
  11. by   PRican
    You already completed a lot of your core courses so you might as well work on your BSN. However, I do understand that you don't want to work retail during those four years.

    I'm kind of on the same boat as you except I already been in the medical field for five years. I started off as a CNA at the nursing home and I now work as a Clinical Care Partner at a major hospital.

    I plan on getting the medical assisting certification to get a raise, more skills, and a promotion at my job. There is so much you do with the medical assistant certification in combination of the CNA certification. I only work three days a week(12 hour shifts) and I create my own schedule around school. It is taking me YEARS to get into the nursing program so I think this will help me supplement my income.

    I highly suggest you get your CNA. You will gain experience in the medical field and it will open up doors for you. But honestly, you can only decide what is best for you and your current situation. A step forward is still a step forward whether you do medical assistant to RN, LPN to RN, CNA to RN, or straight to BSN. Do what's best for you.
  12. by   Neo Soldier
    The MA doesn't get you closer to your nursing goals and I don't think the certificate comes cheap.

    I'm in my mid twenties too and I'm dying for my independence so I totally understand. But here's the big picture: if you leave without being ready, you will be setting yourself up for failure.
    Do your sciences expire after a couple of years? In some schools, after 5 years, you would have to retake A/P and microbiolgy to be eligible.
    Get into the program already and don't waste anymore time.
    If you want to get closer to nursing then take a CNA course. Look for one that is no longer than a month (avoid ones that are a semester long).

    One more recommendation, apply to both BSN and ADN programs and get in where you are offered a spot.
    Get your career started.
  13. by   divmndprincss
    You'd be better off doing a CNA course. I have been an MA for 3 years and it's true, you get locked into clinic hours and it's hard to continue going to school (although possible). Also you don't get any nursing experience where as a CNA course will get you closer to RN, there's flexible hours + experience and you can work in a hospital or nursing home and possibly get hired as an RN once you finish.
  14. by   RiFig_17
    I currently work in a doctor's office where I'm one of the few people who aren't an MA. A lot of my coworkers either became an MA for something quick, but others became an MA as a first stop before going into nursing. However, just as other people said they've kind of become stuck. My coworkers often times say they want to go back to school for nursing but just don't have the time. If nursing is really your ultimate goal, go straight for it to prevent you from getting stuck.
  15. by   Zombie_NSG_Student
    Just to echo what others are saying....I'd go with CNA, if I was looking to continue working though school. I worked weekend nights at a LTC facility, then on a med/surg floor though school. The most practical part of it was that I was able to familiarize myself with interacting with patients, taking vitals, etc etc. Working in LTC was slower, and it was acceptable at my facility to bring flashcards to flip though during downtime. Working on med/surge was much busier, but I was able to get some excellent studying in (and improve my patient care) by browsing though my patient's records - reviewing medications, care plans, diagnosis... all while making a pretty respectable paycheck!

    The company that I worked for offered a $3/hr raise for nursing students, and offered a really generous student loan program (I did not partake because you signed a contract to work for them for one year upon graduation, but options are good). If you get your CNA license and are interviewing for jobs, I'd ask potential employers if they have any programs for student nurses.

    There are numerous ways to get that RN next to your name. I know nurses who did it every way possible: working up from CNA>LPN>ADN>BSN>MSN, ye olde nursing diplomas, and those that jumped straight into BSN or higher. You can be a fantastic nurse by any track!
    Last edit by Zombie_NSG_Student on Jul 16

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