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.

 

What’s the Difference Between a CNA and MA?

Many people want to start a career in the healthcare field, and for a good reason. The healthcare industry continues to grow rapidly, and the variety of jobs available is expanding as well. Working in healthcare also gives you the chance to help people and make a difference in their lives when they need it most.

There are so many opportunities to begin a healthcare career that it can be confusing to try and figure it out on your own. With this in mind, we’re going to help by explaining the difference between a certified nursing assistant and a medical assistant.

Career Outlook


The career outlook for medical assistants is promising. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected growth rate for medical assistants in the United States from 2019-2029 is 19%, well above the 4% average growth rate for all occupations. This means that there will be even more medical assistants needed in the future, and employers will need qualified people to fill these positions.

For certified nursing assistants in the United States, the BLS estimates that the growth rate will be 8% between 2019 and 2029. This is still more than the average rate of 4% but not anywhere near as high as the growth rate for medical assistants.

Skills Required

Medical assistants perform various duties while on the job, including both clinical and administrative tasks that focus on assessing patients and helping doctors with patient care and treatment. Skills a medical assistant needs to learn include taking vital signs, helping with examinations, giving injections, preparing lab tests, and handling patient information.

At United, medical assisting students have the opportunity to practice their hands-on skills in a real healthcare setting as part of an externship. This real-world experience sets students up for success as they begin applying for jobs and start their careers.

Certified nursing assistants focus more on direct patient care and help with daily living activities. Performing baths and cleaning patients, helping patients get dressed and use the bathroom, moving patients between beds and wheelchairs, feeding patients, and changing linens are all common necessary skills of certified nursing assistants.

Training Needed

To start a career in medical assisting, you will need specialized training that prepares you for this specific job. Most medical assisting degree programs can be completed in under two years and include classroom instruction and hands-on skills. It’s also a good idea to choose a medical assistant program that includes preparation for professional certifications, as many employers prefer candidates who have these credentials.

For example, in our Medical Assisting program here at United, students learn valuable knowledge and practice their hands-on skills in their medical assisting classes, labs, and externship. Students also prepare for healthcare certifications specific to being a medical assistant, including the National Certified Clinical Medical Assistant*, Certified EKG Technician**, and Certified Phlebotomy Technician** certifications.

To become a certified nursing assistant, specialized training is required for this career path, and it is usually completed in under six months. The training must be state-approved and typically teaches direct patient care, patient safety, and documentation. CNAs must also pass a competency exam and complete a number of hours of hands-on clinical training, which varies by state.

Work Environment

According to BLS data, medical assistants are most likely to work in physician’s offices, with 57% employed there in 2019. Another 15% is working in hospitals, and the rest in outpatient care centers and at chiropractors. Most medical assistants are full-time employees with 40-hour workweeks. Medical assisting professionals who work in medical facilities that are always open, like hospitals, may work evenings, weekends, and holidays.

According to the BLS, certified nursing assistants are more likely to work in nursing care facilities, with 37% working there, and hospitals, with 27% working there. The remainder of nursing assistants work in retirement and assisted living facilities, home healthcare services, and government. The job duties are more physically demanding and strenuous, as CNAs are on their feet a lot of the time and expected to lift over 50 pounds. Most certified nursing assistants work full time, but some work part-time. They may work longer shifts and more on nights, weekends, and holidays.

Get Started

Now you know the difference between medical assistants and certified nursing assistants! If you’ve decided to go with medical assisting for your career, we may have the perfect Medical Assisting program for you. With hands-on training, academic support, and career services, we can help you reach your career goals. Request information today to get started!

 

*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.

Our Proven Process for Success

At United Career Institute, we take pride in providing quality education, training, and preparation for students starting new careers. It’s an honor to ensure that each and every student is empowered to achieve their career goals.

We have created and established a proven process that helps us cater to each student’s journey in their career. Our proven process helps guide students through these six steps: Plan, Equip, Learn, Enhance, Apply, and Succeed.

Continue reading to learn more about each step and request information to begin your path to a new and exciting career!

Step 1: Plan


We understand that everyone is different. We all have our unique circumstances, requirements, and goals. At United, we believe in identifying each student’s needs to create an individual educational plan that works specifically for you.

Once you request more information, you will be introduced to one of our supportive and friendly career advisors. They will work with you to develop a plan that gets you on your way to achieving your financial goals. You can ask any questions you have to learn all about the student experience at United. After your meeting, you will be provided with an opportunity to tour the campus, see classrooms and labs, and chat with your future instructors.

Step 2: Equip

After you’ve met with an admissions advisor, our dedicated enrollment team will ensure you are equipped with everything you need to get started with your classes, including creating a financial plan that helps you accomplish your career goals.

You will have a meeting with a financial aid advisor, who will explain and guide you through the financial aid process. You will get the opportunity to learn about the different financial aid programs you could qualify for, for example, grants** or loans.

We will assist you in completing your enrollment by getting you registered for your classes and helping you plan for other support you may need, like childcare or transportation.

Step 3: Learn

You are now officially enrolled, and it’s time to start your classes! You will gain important career training, learn practical skills, and practice them while in the classroom and with our interactive labs.

Each of our career-focused degree programs offered here at United includes hands-on training. For instance, students in our Medical Assisting program will learn essential skills, such as measuring vital signs, giving injections, conducting lab tests, drawing a patient’s blood.

While you train for a new healthcare career, you will be in a supportive and helpful environment that caters to all students through our WE CARE educational approach. Academic advising, tutoring, and other services are provided to empower you to succeed in your classes.

Step 4: Enhance

As you learn the important practical skills taught in our healthcare training programs, you will also improve your marketability to employers and prepare for professional certification or license exams. The certifications and licenses will differ depending on the career field you choose, as employers have different criteria for different jobs.

For instance, students who complete our Medical Billing and Coding program are prepared for the Certified Billing and Coding Specialist* certification exam, while students who are enrolled in the Practical Nursing program will prepare for the NCLEX-PN° exam.

Improving your skillset with professional certifications shows your value and can give you an edge over those who may not be certified as you apply for healthcare jobs.

Step 5: Apply

Outside of learning in a classroom or lab setting, you will be given the opportunity to apply what you have learned through an externship or a clinical experience. This provides you with real-life experiences, which is a great asset for potential employment. You will practice the new skills you have gained to be successful on the job and after graduation.

While you apply your skills in the real world, you will be presented with opportunities to create positive relationships with potential employers and others in your local healthcare community. This networking will be of great value when you start your job search. For students enrolled in our Practical Nursing program, you will have clinical rotations at local healthcare facilities.

Step 6: Succeed

Once you finish your classes, complete your externship or clinicals, and pass your certification exams, it’s time for you to graduate. You are now equipped to begin your new healthcare career!

At United, we provide career services that help students kick-start their new careers. You can take advantage of many benefits, including resume development, professional interview training, and access to our network of employers.

After graduation, you will receive continued support with brush-up courses and career services to enable your success now and in the future.

If you are looking for a school with a proven process for success in training students to succeed in healthcare careers, then United may be the right place for you! Discover our career-focused degree programs and request information to start your path to a new career today!

**For those who qualify. See catalog for detailed eligibility requirements.

*Certification is contingent upon passing this industry certification exam.

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