Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Difference between a Nurse and a Medical Assistant

When most people hear the term "medical assistant," they think about a nurse. Even though nurses and medical assistants can take on many of the same tasks in their workplaces, they are not the same people in the slightest. Before you jump into a medical career along these lines, you may want to make sure you know what each position is going to consist of. That way you can determine which one is right for you. Here is a look at the difference between medical assistants and nurses so you cab find your true path in life.

What Nurses Do

Nurses are responsible for patient care at a minute level. They check vital signs, administer medication, answer basic questions, and watch over patients under their care. They do not do any sort of examination like a doctor would, but they do work directly with the health of a patient. Without nurses, doctors would be on call 24 hours a day to monitor the patients they care for. Nurses are needed to do all of the little tasks that make a doctor's job easier when he or she comes to work.

What Medical Assistants Do

Medical assistants take on the clerical duties in healthcare. They are in charge of organizing documents, scheduling appointments, and making sure that patients get to where they need to be. Some medical assistants will check vital signs like a nurse would, but they mainly do the secretarial tasks in their place of work. Nurses write down the documents that medical assistants file away. That is an easy way to remember the difference between the two workers. Don't let the term "assistant" fool you. Medical assistants don't do much with regards to patient care.

Differences in Education

A medical assistant does not necessarily have to have an education related to the medical field. As long as he or she has a business administration background and some knowledge of medical terminology, he or she can get a job. Nurses have to go to school specifically for nursing. They cannot stray from a medically based education. Both workers may end up in the same environment, but their roles within that environment change the education they have to pursue. If you want to learn more about the business side of the medical field, medical assistance would be the right path for you.

Both educational programs only take two years to complete at the base level, so there is no major difference in commitment between the jobs. If you want to get into work quickly, either one of these programs should allow you to do that. Thus the only thing you have to determine is what you want to do at work in the future. This will help you decide which career is ultimately going to be ideal for you.

Getting the Best of Both Worlds

In some cases, you may be able to act as both a nurse and a medical assistant for an establishment if you have a good education. This will require you to take business courses and nursing courses in college, but it would allow you to work in both roles at once. This is not an ideal pursuit for everyone, but it could be right for you. You just have to think about what you want out of your life.

Take the time to really assess these career options, and determine which one you think you would do well in. You should be on your way to a rewarding career in no time.


  1. Hey, i was also so confused with role of nurse and medical assistant and use to think that they have same roles and responsibilities. After reading your share i am clear with the confusion between the both.

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    Thanks to give us awareness about this important rule, I didn't know about that before reading this post.

  3. Hey!
    Thank you for sharing this post regarding the difference between nursing and medical assisting.

  4. Before reading this, i thought they are just the same. But afterwards, I get to understand What does a medical assistant do really do and the roles the perform.

  5. Hmmm I actually have to disagree, depending on the school that you go to for medical assisting, most MAs these days actually do a lot of clinical things. I was trained to do vitals, ekgs, blood draws, injections, PFTs and much more. Nurses these days are still working on the floor, but a lot are taking on more of a desk job. I think this needs to be clarified more and have some more research put into this.


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  7. Before reading your article i though nursing and medical assisting both are same. Thanks for sharing informative post.

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  8. I'm genuinely contented My spouse and i used your time to understand with in the first sections. You might have much expressing a lot to grant.
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  9. I really disagree with your description of what a M.A. does. I was trained in school to do a lot more than just file paper work in school. I was trained in school and in the office to do blood draws, EKG's, assist with in office minor surgical procedures, clean wounds, remove sutures, give injections (immunizations, allergy shots..), vitals, perform various lab tests etc. What you are taught or trained to do depends on the school that you go to. I received a lot of training in the office. For those of you that want to go into the medical field and want to be able to be hands on with patients I would highly suggest becoming a medical assistant. Just check into what classes the school has to offer.

  10. You are completely incorrect and putting out bad information. Medical assistants do plenty on the clinical include giving injections, drawing blood, assisting physicians in office minor surgeries and giving medication. Medical assistants ALSO know how to run the office administratively. The ONLY things Medical Assistants DO NOT do that Nurses do, starting and IV and a catheter. I am in Medical Assisting school right now. We do a lot.