What Is the Difference Between a MA and an RN?

Posted On August 17,2017


The healthcare industry is constantly expanding with ample job opportunities that enable individuals to find employment in different environments. If you’re interested in joining the healthcare field, you could have a tough time making choices between the several career options.

Should you become a registered nurse or a medical assistant? Although these two popular career choices have some similarities in the sense that they allow you the opportunity to contribute to patient care and well-being, they are two different careers. So, what exactly are the practical differences? Let’s take a look.

Duties and Responsibilities

There are major differences between these two careers when it comes to job duties and responsibilities. Medical Assistants assist physicians with a variety of tests and procedures. In addition, they are responsible for a variety of administrative duties such as scheduling appointments, managing inventory, answering phones and performing billing functions. M

As are also responsible for providing patient instructions, taking vital signs, recording patient histories and maintaining the records. Duties for Registered Nurses are exclusively focused on patient care with a minimal amount of administrative duties. Nurses also follow doctor’s orders but the difference is that they are responsible for writing the patient care plans, documenting patient condition, vital signs, and treatments.

Training Requirements

Education and training requirements for an MA and RN have many differences. There are states that provide on-the-job training for MAs but in most cases, you have to complete an accredited training program which is important if you want to be registered after graduation.The training program for an MA will take around one year at minimum to complete and involves a hands-on training and internship.

To become an RN, you must complete an accredited nursing program. Training for a registered nurse takes around two years to complete and consists of book study and clinical experiences. RNs are then required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) upon completion of the program in order to become licensed to work.

Employment and Salary

A medical assistant will typically work in ambulatory care, clinics, physicians’ offices and similar facilities. A registered nurse, on the other hand, tends to work in large clinics and hospitals where patients can come for short visits or be assigned beds to stay through the night. MAs can be able to work a regular day job while RNs are often required to provide patient care for long hours. This translates into nontraditional schedules, rotating shifts, and on-call sessions. There is also a considerable difference in the earning potential between the two careers.

Career Advancements

Whether you are a medical assistant or registered nurse, there are different opportunities for you to advance your career into positions of greater responsibility. As a registered nurse, you can pursue further education to earn a Master’s of Science in Nursing that will expose you to a lot of career choices. As a medical assistant, you have the option of pursuing higher education in an administrative or clinical capacity.

While both the registered nurse and medical assisting career fields have much to offer and are full of promise, they are different in various ways. When making a career choice, it’s important to have a better understanding of which career path that is in line with your interests and aspirations.

Start Your Journey Now

If you are interested in becoming a registered nurse, learn more about the roles of an RN in the healthcare system. If you are leaning more towards medical assisting, learn more about the desirable skills of an MA. Enroll for a program in your perfect career path at Athena Career Academy by contacting us today at (419) 329-4075.