The Difference Between Practical Nursing and Medical Assisting

a woman wearing a stethoscope

Medical assistants (MA) require much less training than nurses. This might include on-the-job training or a certified program, which can range from nine months to two years. Associate degrees and certification courses for MAs are offered online and at traditional schools. Courses typically involve some basic medical education, as well as administrative training.

Medical assisting and practical nursing are both important professions in the healthcare industry, but they have different job duties, educational requirements, and responsibilities.

Medical assistants typically work in outpatient or ambulatory care settings, such as physician’s offices or clinics, and perform a variety of clinical and administrative tasks to support the healthcare team. Some common tasks that medical assistants may perform include taking vital signs, assisting with patient examinations, collecting and preparing laboratory specimens, performing basic lab tests, administering medications, and providing patient education.

To become a medical assistant, individuals typically need to complete a postsecondary education program, which can range from a certificate to an associate’s degree. These programs can be completed in one to two years and often include both classroom and clinical training.

In contrast, practical nurses, also known as licensed practical nurses (LPNs), work in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, and home health care. They provide basic nursing care to patients, such as monitoring vital signs, administering medications, changing dressings, and assisting with personal care.

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