Differences Between A Medical Assistant and a Licensed Practical Nurse

Posted On September 10,2018

What Is The Difference Between A Medical Assistant and a Licensed Practial Nurse

If you have a desire to work in the healthcare industry but don’t have the time or money to get the years of education needed to become a doctor, then you should look into becoming a medical assistant or a practical nurse. Both occupations are in serious demand and will continue to be in high demand throughout the future.

Additionally, you can gain employment as either after just a year of training. While both require that you deal directly with patients, there are some major differences between the two.

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The following are some of the differences between medical assistants and practical nurses:

Medical Assistants

Medical assistants are often required to perform both clinical assistance and administrative services. The following are some of the administrative and clinical tasks that medical assistants typically perform:

  • Working at the reception desk to answer phone calls and to schedule appointments with patients.
  • Properly coding, filing, and submitting insurance forms to ensure that the practice or facility you’re working at gets paid.
  • Maintaining patient records, billing patients, and doing general bookkeeping.
  • Recording patient medical histories.
  • Recording patient vital signs.
  • Drawing blood.
  • Administrating medications according to the instructions of the physician.

To become a medical assistant, you can either enroll in a two-year program at a community college or complete a one-year medical assistant training program to receive a diploma or a certificate. Some of the courses you can expect to take as part of any program include Medical Terminology, Medical Office Management, Patient Preparation, Anatomy and Physiology, Basic Laboratory Procedures and Tests, and more.

To become a medical assistant, certain skills and traits are helpful. Things that are important include attention to detail, the ability to multitask, and communication skills. The average salary of a medical assistant in Ohio in 2015 was $29,240.

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Practical Nurses

Practical nurses focus more on clinical tasks as opposed to administrative tasks. Practical nurses are required to provide basic nursing care to their patients under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN). As a practical nurse, you’ll be expected to:

  • Measure patient vital signs.
  • Feed and bathe patients.
  • Provide the proper medications.
  • Record patient information.
  • Collect samples for testing.

To become a practical nurse, you’ll need to complete a one year program as well as pass the NCLEX-PN exam, which is required by every state in order to receive a practical nurse license. If you enroll in a practical nurse program, you will take courses that include Practical Nursing Clinical Applications, Nursing Fundamentals, Nutrition, Psychology, Legal and Ethical Concepts, Nursing Pharmacology, and more.

To become a practical nurse, there are several skills or traits that you will need to succeed. Because you’ll be interacting directly with patients, it’s important that you are able to communicate clearly and that you are empathetic. Critical thinking and decision making skills are particularly important in critical situations. You will also need to be able to work effectively with others since practical nurses regularly work alongside and under other nurses and health professionals. The average salary of a licensed practical nurse in 2015 in the state of Ohio was $41,060.

If you’re looking to pursue a career in the medical field due to your desire to help people, then you should consider enrolling in a program for medical assistants or practical nurses. Knowing what the differences are between a medical assistant and a practical nurse will help make it easier for you to figure out which occupation will best suit your wants and needs. For information about our medical assistant or nursing programs, be sure to contact us at Athena Career Academy today.

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