What is the difference between Medical Assistant and CNA?

Nurses Career Support


I am going through a program that will let me go to school for free. I am interested in Medical assistant and CNA. I wanted to know what the duties are of both? What is the pay difference? If I want to become an RN or an LVN do I have to be a CNA first or can I be a Medical assistant too? If I become a Medical assistant and what to move up how do I go about doing that? Sorry about all the questions if you could answer them all I would appreciate it. Oh I live in California, so I would like to know the pay difference between the two. Thanks

cjcsoon2bnp, MSN, RN, NP

7 Articles; 1,156 Posts

Specializes in Emergency Nursing.

I think the pay difference depends on the area of the country to be honest. Medical Assistants assist physicians in doctors offices where as Certified Nurses Assistants work with nurses in nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, home health care and hospitals. Hospitals and home health tend to pay more then nursing homes or rehab facilities but it really depends on where you live. Medical Assistants tend to perform both clinical and administrative functions in a doctor's office; they can function as a secretary or office manager and also perform some clinical duties like taking vital signs, taking basic histories, prepare patients for examination or procedures and collect blood other fluid samples for testing (it depends on what your state allows for the scope of practice of medical assistants.) Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) usually only perform clinical duties which including assisting patients with the activities of daily living (such as eating, bathing and using the bathroom) and assisting nurses with the care of patients. In the hospital setting CNAs can be trained to draw blood, perfrom EKGs and various other tasks under the supervision of a registered nurse. If your going to be a nurse I would suggest that you become a CNA because it allows you to see and learn about what nurses do everyday and puts you in a place to get the best nursing education possible.

!Chris :specs:


7 Posts

Although Medical Assistants are typically found in an office, it doesn't mean they have to push papers. I work in a multi-physician, multi-disciplinary practice where I am strictly "back-office" ~ meaning I work directly with patients.

In addition to taking vital signs and histories I also perform EKGs, x-Rays, venipuncture, wound care, ear lavage, and many others as well as providing patient education on topics such as diabetes and weight management.

Everything about any type of career you choose depends upon the part of the country you live in. I live in Michigan and make approximately $13/hour.

If you wish to become an MA and work strictly with patients then you will have to be patient when searching for a job. I was very fortunate in that the office I performed my internship in hired me directly.

Good luck and try not to get discouraged!


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