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What is the Difference Between a CNA and a CMA?

Posted On May 27, 2021

If you’re interested in a career in the medical field but don’t want to dedicate years of schooling to get there, then becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA) or certified medical assistant (CMA) are excellent options to consider. Both occupations involve working directly with patients and collaborating with members of a health care team, and both careers are quick and easy ways to break into the field, but that’s where the similarities end. Before making a final decision, it’s important to research the differences between them to ensure you’re choosing the best career for you.

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Medical assistant duties and responsibilities include a mix of both clinical and administrative tasks performed in doctor’s offices, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. 

While the duties vary, they generally include the following job responsibilities (and more): 

  • Updating and filing patient records. 
  • Answering phones and scheduling appointments. 
  • Preparing treatment rooms for patient examinations. 
  • Explaining treatment procedures to patients. 
  • Collecting laboratory specimens and performing basic laboratory tests. 
  • Administering medications and injections. 

Nursing assistants provide basic care for patients in hospitals and nursing facilities. CNA’s have a much more physically demanding job than CMA’s, often being asked to bathe, transfer, or reposition patients. Unlike medical assistants, CNA’s work solely on the clinical side of healthcare. 

Which Career is Right for You?  

Medical assistants need to be detail oriented as they are entrusted to accurately record patient information and vital signs for insurance purposes. They must also possess analytical skills and quick decision-making skills as reading patient charts and being able to understand medical diagnoses are critical aspects of the job. Medical assistants deal with a large volume of patients every day and may only see a patient once or twice a year, depending on their medical needs. Being friendly and personable is a must when it comes to providing quality patient care. 

Nursing assistants provide critical care to patients who are usually elderly or severely ill, making them essential members of the healthcare team. However, the demands of the job can be difficult, both on an emotional and physical level. CNAs work with nursing home residents who often stay months or years with CNAs as their primary caregivers. This allows nursing assistants to form close bonds with their patients, which is beneficial, but also heartbreaking when they pass away.    

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When deciding between becoming a medical assistant or a nursing assistant, it’s important to ask yourself if you want to take on the role of a caregiver. CNAs often serve patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and hospice facilities and they require long-term care and assistance with basic tasks, such as bathing and eating. If you have a strong desire to work with the elderly, then a career as a nursing assistant is worth pursuing. 

However, if you’re interested in the administrative and clinical side of healthcare, versus providing more of a caregiving role, then becoming a medical assistant is a better fit. Medical assistants are unique as they’re cross trained to perform a wide variety of administrative and clinical skills, making them more versatile and valuable than many other healthcare professionals. 

To Get Started Soon 

If becoming a medical assistant sounds like a good fit, or you’re interested in learning more about the versatile role of a medical assistant, contact Athena Career Academy. Their reputable and established certified medical assisting program will prepare you to work in a modern medical facility in less than a year’s time, so don’t delay! Transform your life with a career you can grow with. Contact Athena Career Academy today for more information about enrolling in one of our accredited programs. 

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Athena Career Academy is accredited by the Commission of the Council on Occupational Education. The school is registered with the Ohio Board of Career Colleges and Schools; State of Ohio – School Registration Number – 10-09-1943T and operates under the authority of the Ohio Board of Nursing. Please contact the Student Operations Manager for more information.

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