Is a CNA the Same as a Health Care Assistant?

If you’re looking for an entry-level healthcare job you can find one. Do you want more than just a job but feel like a career in the healthcare field is out of reach? Pursuing a bachelor’s degree is expensive and a huge time commitment you may not be able to fit into your busy life. Fortunately there are several healthcare careers that don’t require years of training and large student loans to achieve. You may have heard of a health care assistant, also known as a medical assistant (MA), and a certified nursing assistant (CNA), but what you might not know is they aren’t the same thing. While a certified nursing assistant and a medical assistant perform essential jobs in the medical field, they have distinct responsibilities, roles, and career paths.

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What Are the Duties of a Medical Assistant?

A medical assistant does both administrative and clinical duties in a healthcare facility. A medical assistant’s duties will vary from one office to another, depending on the facility’s size, location, and specialty. However, if you decide to become a medical assistant, your job responsibilities will most likely include:

  • Explaining treatment procedures to patients.
  • Filing and updating patients’ medical records.
  • Preparation of treatment rooms for examinations.
  • Administration of injections and medications.
  • Scheduling hospital admissions, appointments, and laboratory services.

Although you will be cross-trained to perform both front-office and clinical tasks, you may have to specialize in either clinical or administrative work in larger hospitals or practices if you choose to become a medical assistant. An administrative medical assistant mostly focuses on front-office duties like scheduling appointments, filing paperwork, and other general clerical duties while a clinical medical assistant performs back-office duties, including helping doctors with patient examinations and drawing blood.

What Are the Duties of a Certified Nursing Assistant?

If you like helping people every day, becoming a certified nursing assistant because the job entails providing basic care to patients in nursing facilities and hospitals. Being a nursing assistant means that you will interact with patients more than a medical assistant because you will help them with basic tasks such as repositioning, bathing, or moving. You will also monitor a patient’s vital needs.

Unlike a medical assistant, if you become a certified nursing assistant, you will only work on the clinical side of healthcare. This is great news for people who would like a career in healthcare that focuses more on patient care and less on the clinical side of running a medical office. However, you will play a significant role in residential care facilities and nursing homes because you will often act as a patient’s primary caregiver because of the amount of time you will spend at each facility. Most certified nursing assistants are most likely to work in hospitals than medical assistants because of their critical responsibilities in helping patients.

Some of your job responsibilities as a CNA may include:

  • Reposition bedridden patients.
  • Measure a patient’s vital signs.
  • Measure and record liquid and food intake.
  • Answer the call signals of a patient.
  • Clean and dress patients.
  • Report any changes in a patient’s condition to their physician.

Education, Training, and Certification

You will not need a four-year degree to become a certified nursing assistant or a medical assistant. Although you don’t need a postsecondary degree to become a medical assistant, most employers prefer a candidate who has gone through a formal MA training program. Earning a Medical Assistant Diploma may take up to 12 months.

If you want to join the healthcare field as soon as possible, becoming a certified nursing assistant could be your best option. Most nursing assistant programs don’t take as long and are broken into clinical practice and instructional hours. Once you complete the classes, you will become a certified nursing assistant by passing a state-mandated competency examination. Some states may have additional requirements like passing a mandatory background check or completing continuing education.

If you want to become a certified nursing assistant or learn more about the role, contact Trinity School of Health and Allied Sciences in Gardena, CA. Our nursing assistant training program will prepare you to work in hospitals, care facilities, and nursing homes in as little as eight weeks. Classes are forming now.