Exploring the Difference Between a CMA and an STNA

December 10, 2019

Becoming either a certified medical assistant (CMA) or a state tested nursing assistant (STNA) is a true accomplishment for anyone. Both positions pay well and also command a reasonable degree of respect in the medical community. Still, the two positions are not at all identical. Here is a quick rundown of the principal differences between the two positions and what you can expect if you do become one or the other:

State Tested Nursing Assistant Career

A state tested nursing assistant (STNA) is responsible for the hands-on, daily personal care of one or more patients. These duties, more often than not, include assisting patients with their daily routine – activities of daily living in medical parlance – such as bathing patients, making beds, following regular patient rotations (turning relatively immobile patients in their beds to reduce bedsores and other ulcers) and accomplishing any number of other tasks involved in direct patient care. Although STNAs are certified, they are not qualified to administer any prescription medications and make no independent health treatment decisions. In other words, everything they do is overseen by the nurse on duty. CNAs will mostly be found in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospitals working directly under a registered nurse.

Certified Medical Assistant Career

In contrast, a certified medical assistant (CMA) works mostly as an administrator and usually interfaces directly with the medical provider rather than with the patients themselves although there can be some significant patient contact. A CMA’s main responsibilities include the initial patient work-up at check-in, checking vital signs, noting relevant medical and medication history, performing a physical exam and obtaining any pertinent allergy information. In rare cases, a CMA may be instructed to administer medications per the doctor’s or nurse’s order in the form of immunizations or intramuscular injections. They also perform phlebotomies, minor wound care and splinting. In addition, CMAs perform clerical duties such as prescription refills, and janitorial tasks like sanitizing treatment rooms, keeping stock rooms full, or cleaning medical equipment. CMAs commonly work in private healthcare centers and out-patient medical facilities.

For more detailed information on pursuing a career as either a certified medical assistant or a state tested nursing assistant, please contact us today, or stop by for a campus tour. We offer flexible class schedules and full and part time programs for both of these rewarding careers.