What Is the Difference Between a MA and LPN?

Many people dream of starting a career in the healthcare industry, and maybe you are one of them. The healthcare field is continuing to grow, and the different types of available jobs are also increasing. When you work in healthcare, you have the chance to make a difference in people’s lives by helping them when they need it most.
With so many different opportunities to starting your healthcare career, it can be challenging to figure it all out. To help you do this, we’re explaining the difference between a medical assistant and a licensed practical nurse. Keep reading to learn more about these healthcare career options!

Career Outlook

Medical assistants have a promising career outlook here in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, medical assistants have a projected growth rate of 19% from 2019 to 2029. This is very high compared to the average growth rate of 4% for all other occupations. This means that employers will need even more qualified and skilled medical assistants in the future to fill open positions.

The BLS estimates the projected growth rate for licensed practical nurses will be 9% for 2019 to 2029. This is also more than the 4% growth rate for all occupations, but not as high as the growth rate for medical assistants. This means that employers will also need skilled and well-trained licensed practical nurses at a higher rate in the future.

Skills Needed

Medical assistants complete both clinical and administrative tasks while on the job, focusing on assessing patients and helping with care and treatment. They need to learn various skills, including performing lab tests, practicing phlebotomy, taking vital signs, assisting with minor surgeries, and performing EKGs.

For those who choose to become a licensed practical nurse, the focus is more on providing basic medical care while working under the supervision of doctors and registered nurses. Skills a licensed practical nurse needs include performing IV therapy, caring for wounds, assisting patients with daily activities, and monitoring medical equipment.

At United, our Practical Nursing program gives students the opportunity to gain valuable experience practicing their skills as they complete their clinicals while in the program. With this valuable hands-on experience, Practical Nursing students are ready for their careers in just one year.

Training Required

To start a career as a medical assistant, you will need to prepare for this specific job via specialized training. Most medical assisting programs are comprised of both classroom instruction and hands-on skills and are completed in under two years. It is also beneficial to choose a Medical Assistant Degree program that will prepare you for professional certifications, as many of today’s healthcare employers prefer certified candidates.

For example, students enrolled in our Medical Assisting program at United learn valuable knowledge in the classroom and practice their hands-on skills in labs and their externship. Additionally, students prepare for professional healthcare certifications, including National Certified Clinical Medical Assistant*, Certified EKG Technician**, and Certified Phlebotomy Technician**.

To become a licensed practical nurse, students are required to complete a state-approved program that can usually be completed in one year. Students are trained in areas like nursing, pharmacology, and biology. After graduating from a practical nursing program, students must take the NCLEX-PN° exam and pass to be employed as a licensed practical nurse in their state.

Work Environment

According to BLS data, 57% of medical assistants work in a physician’s office, and 15% work in hospitals. The remainder of medical assistants works in outpatient care centers and at chiropractors. Most medical assisting positions are full-time with a 40 -hour workweek. Those who choose to work in healthcare facilities that are open all the time, like hospitals, for example, may be required to work evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Licensed practical nurses are more likely to work in nursing and residential care facilities, with 38% working there, 15% working in hospitals, 13% in physicians’ offices, 13% in-home healthcare services, and 6% in government, according to BLS data. LPNs are required to be on their feet for a lot of the workday, and they need the ability to lift patients who cannot care for themselves. Due to the type of healthcare facilities they work in, many practical nurses must work nights, weekends, and holidays.

Now that you have a good understanding of the difference between medical assistants and licensed practical nurses, you can decide on the best way to start your healthcare career!

Explore our healthcare training programs in Medical Assisting, Medical Billing and Coding, and Practical Nursing today. Request information now to start your dream healthcare career!

 

°Passing the NCLEX – PN exam is required to become a Practical Nurse.

*Certification is contingent upon passing the corresponding industry certification exam. Required/included in tuition/fees.

**Certification is contingent upon passing the corresponding industry certification exam. Optional at own expense.

 

The Benefits of Completing an Externship in Your Degree

Kudos to you for deciding to continue your education and earn a degree! It’s now time to decide what school and program will be the best option for you and your goals.

One of the aspects you may want to think about is whether there’s an externship opportunity that you can do while you earn your degree. An externship allows you to work in real-world environments while still in school and is beneficial for you and your career path. Continue reading to discover the top benefits of completing an externship!

Gain Valuable Experience

One of the main benefits of doing an externship while in school is that you can get hands-on, real-life experience in your selected career path. Learning the critical knowledge required to start your career is great; however, gaining hands-on experience allows you to take it to the next level and gives you an advantage as you apply for jobs. If an employer is considering two candidates, and one has real-world experience, and the other does not, they will most likely select the person who has experience.

Choosing a program that includes an externship and getting real-life experience are great resume builders. Add your externship experience, any tasks you performed, and other skills you developed while completing your externship to your resume.

During the time you are attending school and completing your externship, you can start to consider what types of organizations you want to work for after you graduate. Perhaps you wanted to work in a hospital setting, but then you realized that you would prefer a doctor’s office. Or maybe you thought you wanted to work for a public firm, but now you realize a nonprofit would be better for you. Having on-the-job experience at your externship helps you better understand the work environment, so you can decide which type of company suits your needs.

Develop Your Skills

Practicing the hands-on skills you learned in classroom and lab settings is another great benefit of completing an externship. Employing the knowledge you’ve gained in a real-life work environment can set you up for continued career success. The more work experience you get, the better you will be at your job, as the additional practice helps to upgrade your skills.

During your externship, you will have the opportunity to improve your soft skills, including your communication skills, ability to work with a team, time management skills, and much more. Soft skills are equally as important as the hard skills you acquire for your job. Many employers review candidates for soft skills while completing interviews. Additionally, soft skills can help make you more confident in yourself and your abilities, helping you perform better in your career.

Make Professional Connections

Another benefit of choosing a degree program with an externship is that you can begin creating your professional network while you’re in school. Creating positive relationships with people at your externship and with prospective employers can help you build a network that will be of great value when the time comes to submit job applications.

Once you complete an externship and create a professional network, you will have a head start with local organizations and prospective employers. If you have a great experience with your externship and you would like to work for that company, make them aware and be on the lookout for any job opportunities that come along.

An externship provides you with the opportunity to locate a mentor that could assist you on your career path. Perhaps there is someone that could help by offering you guidance and advice along the way that would be a great mentor. Furthermore, you can receive feedback from professionals in the field to help improve your skillset. You can also ask people you worked with during your externship to provide you with references and recommendations when the time comes for you to submit job applications.

Get Started With United

Are you ready to get on the fast-track to a great healthcare career? At United, we have exciting programs that work for you with externships, caring instructors, career services, and student support. Discover our healthcare degree programs and contact us now to get started today!