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When it comes to the healthcare field, there are a number of positions that are available. Two such positions are medical assistants and CNAs. Although the job descriptions may seem similar in some aspects, there are a number of differences in these two occupations in terms of where they work, the duties they perform, and the requirements in order to enter the field under these titles. Below we’re going to clear up some of the misconceptions between a medical assistant and CNA.

Where medical assistants and cna’s can work

Medical Assistants tend to work for and directly with physicians in outpatient and ambulatory care facilities, such as physician’s offices and health clinics, as well as urgent care centers, offices of other types of health practitioners, and perhaps sometimes even in hospitals.

Whereas CNAs or Nursing Assistants can work in a variety of medical facilities. They may work in state, local and private hospitals, although they most commonly work in nursing and long-term care facilities. They may also be found working in residential or long term care facilities, home healthcare agencies, and skilled nursing facilities.

There is some overlap in the locations and options where Medical Assistants or Nursing Assistants may work; both work in various medical facilities. However Medical Assistants work primarily in clinics, private practices and urgent care centers, while CNAs / Nursing Assistants typically work in hospitals, nursing homes, and home health care agencies.

Medical assistant duties compared to CNA duties

Medical assistants are responsible for a wide variety of tasks. Medical assistants can handle both clinical and administrative functions. The duties and responsibilities of a medical assistant may vary from office to office, depending on the size, location, and specialties of the particular facility. Some of their responsibilities generally include:

  • Preparing patients for examinations and taking medical histories.
  • Explaining treatment and procedures to patients.
  • Assisting the physician during exams.
  • Collecting and preparing laboratory specimens.
  • Performing basic laboratory tests.
  • Answering telephones and scheduling appointments.
  • Updating and filing patient medical records and insurance forms.
  • Arranging for hospital admissions and laboratory services.
  • Handling correspondence, billing, and bookkeeping.

CNAs / Nursing assistants are primarily responsible for providing basic care to patients, and assisting them in the daily activities they might have trouble with on their own. Nursing Assistants are often the principal caregivers and have more contact with residents than other staff members. Some of their daily duties may include:

  • Cleaning and bathing patients or residents
  • Helping patients use the toilet and dress
  • Repositioning and transferring patients between beds and wheelchairs
  • Listening to and recording patients’ health concerns and reporting that information to nurses and doctors
  • Measuring vital signs, such as blood pressure and temperature
  • Serving meals and helping patients eat
  • Transporting patients to operating rooms or treatment units
  • Setting up equipment at a nurse or doctor’s request

There are some similarities in terms of the tasks a Medical Assistant and a Nursing Assistant perform (for example, both take vital signs) however, a Nursing Assistant is much more hands-on in terms of providing direct patient care and is heavily involved in assisting their patients with daily activities, whereas a Medical Assistant does not have these same responsibilities, typically.

Different training criteria in order to enter the workforce

A medical assistant will usually graduate from a training program with a certificate or diploma.  Some programs may issue a degree, depending upon the school.1 Before enrolling you will need to have a GED or high school diploma. A program can take up to a year to complete but how long it takes may vary based on the school/program.  Though some employers may offer on the job training it can be favorable for prospective medical assistants to have an education before entering the workforce. A medical assistant and CNA training differ in that nursing assistants usually must complete a state approved training program and depending on the state must become certified 2, whereas medical assistants may not be required by the state to be certified however it may make you stand out to employers. CNA programs are also typically much shorter.  In some cases, you can finish your CNA training in just a matter of weeks, but keep in mind, the knowledge and skills covered may not be as comprehensive as those covered in a medical assistant program which takes longer to complete.

The Nurse Aide Program at Training Direct

Interested in being a nursing assistant or pursuing a career as a CNA? Training Direct is a career training school committed to providing quality, short-term, hands-on training and education to those who wish to pursue a career in the healthcare field.  Our Nurse Aide program is a training program that aims to assist students in their development of skills and knowledge necessary to excel in the healthcare field as a Nurse’s Aide. 

Training in the Nurse Aide program includes:

  • Overview of a career as a Nurse’s Aide
  • Introduction to the human body
  • Effective Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Safety and emergency procedures
  • Patient rights
  • Patient and end of life care procedures
  • Responding to patient needs and behavior
  • Care of the cognitively impaired
  • Basic restorative services
  • ..And more!

Training Direct has locations in Bridgeport CT and Danbury CT.  Take the next step by inquiring about our nurse aide program today!

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Training Direct has determined that its Nurse Aide program curriculum is sufficient to fulfill educational requirements for certification in the State of Connecticut only. No educational determinations have been made for any other state, district or US territory in regards to certification requirements.