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.

 

Medical Assisting Students At Irwin Begin Externship

Classroom knowledge lays the foundation for the Medical Assisting program at United Career Institute Irwin. Classes like Medical Terminology and Anatomy & Physiology are the building blocks for students to advance in their careers. However, hands-on skill learning and application will always be the key component of our Medical Assisting program. United Career Institute started our first class of medical assisting students in September of 2019. To start the new year, those three students will be the first ever to begin their 12-week externships with local healthcare providers.

“It’s an exciting and fulfilling time,” says Campus President Arnold Thimons. “To think back when we opened this campus with these three students, and now their goals are coming to fruition, could not make me more proud!” Since that inaugural class, the Medical Assisting student population has grown to 35, and that number continues to grow each week. With the incredible feedback from local healthcare providers like Excela Health, Premier Medical, Allegheny Health Network, UPMC, William Penn Care Center, and many others, our students are exposed to such great opportunities to spend 12 weeks, the length of their externship, shadowing and applying the skills they’ve learned on campus in the real world. “I tell my students to look at these 12 weeks as a 12-week job interview,” says Thimons. “Students have input in the area and discipline that their interests lie, and if they perform well during their externship, the goal would be to get hired at that facility immediately upon graduation.”

During this COVID pandemic, it is vitally important to train and make available healthcare workers for local hospitals, doctors’ offices, and countless other primary care facilities. Having a chance for students to spend three months at the end of their program seeing and participating on the front lines of healthcare gives them such a great insight into this career path.

To learn more about United’s externship program, request information here!

Perryo Medical Center – Externship Highlight

One of the most exciting and rewarding parts of the medical programs at United Career Institute is the externship that students participate in at the end of their program. Externship takes place during the last twelve weeks of a student’s program and provides invaluable educational opportunities. It allows students to apply what they have learned in their medical classes in a real-world, hands-on environment. United Career Institute Mt. Braddock prides itself on the externship partnerships we have forged over the years and we love seeing our students excel in real life medical offices, clinics, and hospitals.

One of these partnerships is with Perryo Medical Center in Perryopolis. Perryo Medical Center is an internal medicine primary care office that has been in operation since 1998. In their 22 years of doing business, they have touched the lives of numerous patients. Their dedicated medical staff works hard to ensure that their patients spend more time with their service provider than waiting in the waiting room. “We help our patients live a healthier life thorough periodic evaluations, implementation of preventive health guidelines, timely referrals to specialists, health education, and wellness options that fit their lifestyle”, they proudly state on their website. Perryo’s mission is to provide their patients with personal attention, unparalleled dedication, and the highest quality health care that they deserve! The team at Perryo Medical Center is happy to report that business is great! Jillian Clay who is the site coordinator for Perryo says, “We are accepting new patients every day. We are constantly growing.” She continued, “Our five-year outlook is promising with continuous patient and organizational growth.”

 United students love their externships because it not only allows them to practice the skills they learned in their programs in a real-world environment, but it also gives them one on one time with employers in their area. Clay says that externships students will “receive a valuable education and hands-on learning at our organization.” However, the student isn’t the only one who benefits from externship partnerships with United Career Institute! The externship site also has a lot to gain. “The students keep us on our toes, up to date with new information, and we always welcome an extra set of hands,” says Clay.

Jillian left us with some advice for students entering medical programs this year. “Treat every patient as if they were your family.”

To learn more about United’s exciting externship program or if you are a medical site interested in partnering with you United, give us a call at 724-437-4600!