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.

 

Amy Murray – Student Highlight

United Career Institute Mt. Braddock is proud to introduce you to our March Student of the Month, Amy Murray. Amy is one of our practical nursing students and has a unique story behind how she ended up at United….She was a student 17 years ago when we were still named West Virginia Career Institute! At the time, she was a medical assisting student, and her experience in that program is what encouraged her to come back to United when she was ready to continue her education. “I chose United because I had an amazing experience the first time around!!! The PN program was exactly what I was looking for and located fairly close to me. United also worked with my schedule with my children. I have school when they have school, so I’m not missing a significant amount of time with them,” Amy said.

Amy had always had dreams of being a nurse and originally hoped to pursue that dream directly after completing her Medical Assisting degree. “I chose the PN program because it has always been a dream of mine to become a nurse. After the MA program, I had planned on continuing my journey to become a nurse, but God had bigger plans for me then. That’s when I was blessed with my three beautiful children and was lucky enough to stay home and raise them for several years. Now that they are older, with their support, I was finally able to return to school to finish what I started so many years ago.”

There are so many things about United that Amy loves that she had trouble picking just one! “One of my favorite parts of attending United is knowing that I am learning the skills that will help me reach my lifelong dream of becoming a nurse. Another favorite part would have to be coming to school every day and being in a class full of amazing women who support each other,” she said.

Just like Amy had trouble picking her favorite part of attending United, she also had a hard time picking her favorite instructor. “I love ALL of my teachers! Each and every one of them wants to see us succeed and will encourage and believe in us even when we may not believe in ourselves.” While Amy had trouble picking her favorite part of attending United and her favorite teachers, she had no trouble picking her favorite class! “My favorite class would have to be Lab/Clinical,” she said. “I really enjoy being able to go to the hospital for clinical and use what we have learned in class to help people,” she continued.

Amy’s ideal job after graduation is working in the Emergency Department or Labor and Delivery. In five years, she hopes to be working as a nurse and achieve financial stability.

When asked if she would recommend a friend to United, Amy said, “I would definitely recommend United to a friend, and I would even recommend [it] to a complete stranger. The small class sizes, amazing teachers, location, and hands-on experience United offers prepares you to become the best nurse you can be for future patients and their families.”

If your story sounds similar to Amy’s or if you’re interested in learning more about United’s Practical Nursing program, request information here!