20+ Difference between Medical Assistants and CNA

You have a calling in the medical industry. You always wish you could be the one in scrubs, assisting doctors and helping patients instead of just being a patient. Recently, the urging has become intolerable.

You’ve finally decided to stop daydreaming and start deciding between all the possible healthcare careers.

You don’t have the time or energy to devote to earning an associate’s degree or higher in order to become a registered nurse.

Comparison Between Medical Assistant And CNA

ParameterMedical AssistantCNA
DefinitionCollecting patient information, drawing blood, cleaning and preparing exam rooms, organizing and sanitizing medical equipment, and obtaining blood samples are just some of the tasks that a medical assistant (MA) is responsible for.The numerous titles given to CNAs indicate the various tasks they do in the healthcare system. You could also hear them referred to as a patient care assistant, a nursing aide, or a nursing assistant (PCA). They work closely with RNs and LPNs, who supervise every move (LPNs).
WorkAs a result of the fact that their main role is to give help to medical experts, medical assistants often find employment in settings such as private physician offices.Certified nursing assistants often search for work at medical institutions like hospitals, which generally have many open nursing positions. This is a result of the fact that the primary job of certified nursing assistants is to assist registered nurses in performing their tasks.
CertificationEarning a medical assistant certification is suggested but not required. Even though no state mandates any particular credentials for medical assistants, many companies want to see them on a candidate’s resume. For MAs, there are two primary qualifications.Certification as a nursing assistant is not standardized throughout the country. Standards typically include completing a training program and test for nursing aides authorized by the state and a clean criminal record check. After completing the necessary steps to become a certified nursing assistant, your name will be posted to the register maintained by your state.
SalaryAccording to the information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for medical assistants in 2021 was $37,190. This figure was derived from the statistics.According to data provided by the National Association of Certified Nurse Aides in 2010, the yearly salary of a CNA in the United States was around $30,310 on average. This statistic reveals a significant increase when evaluated compared to the preceding year’s sum.
Skills requiredThose with strong verbal and written communication abilities and an eye for detail can thrive in assistant medical employment. These positions are ideal for people who thrive in intimate, collaborative teams and like working in doctor’s offices.A Certified Nursing Assistant position may be ideal if you thrive in a fast-paced, hands-on environment where you provide direct patient care. Since most CNAs work in big hospitals or nursing institutions, this profession is a good fit for those who thrive in busy situations and like contributing to a cohesive team.

Major Difference Between Medical Assistant And Cna

Who exactly is Medical Assistant?

Medical assistants are often used in outpatient clinics and hospitals to assist physicians with patient care.

They carry out a range of tasks at the request of the physicians to assist the doctors in streamlining their procedures and devoting their whole focus to the treatment of their patients.

A doctor’s office may employ more than one medical assistant. These kinds of assistants are helpful in private companies, governmental administration offices, and research establishments.

Key Difference: Medical Assistant

  • Injections and drug administration are among the tasks that MAs may do when ordered to do so by a doctor. 
  • Certification is available, although medical assistants are not mandatory in every state. The minimum level of education required of medical assistants varies from state to state. 
  • Some states just demand a high school diploma or GED to enter the workforce, while others insist on a degree and certification in medical assistance. 
  • Training programs for medical assistants may be found at many vocational and community institutions. 
  • The length of time it takes to complete a degree program varies from one to another. Because of their dual role in healthcare institutions, MAs get the best of both worlds.
  • It typically takes roughly two years to complete an associate degree program in medical assisting. Graduates are prepared to work as medical assistants in a variety of situations.
  • Their primary focus is on the care of patients, and they are responsible for things like monitoring vital signs, giving injections and medications, and collecting blood samples. 
  • Medical assistants are often found in administrative roles, where they schedule appointments and update patient files with new information gleaned from visits.

Who exactly is CNA?

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are entry-level members of the healthcare team who undertake essential patient-centered duties under the direction of registered nurses (RNs) and physicians (MDs).

A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is not a registered nurse but does assist nurses, doctors, and others in the healthcare industry.

The Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program is often the first step for those interested in working in the healthcare industry. While some CNAs may progress to more senior nursing roles, many others find fulfillment in their current position.

Key Difference: CNA

  • Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) help registered nurses (RNs) provide routine patient care. CNAs do more hands-on tasks than MAs do. 
  • Nurse aides cannot give out drugs unless they have additional training. Formal education in nursing is usually not required to work as a certified nursing assistant. 
  • Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) in nursing homes must be trained and included in their state’s nursing registry by federal law. 
  • If you want to work in a nursing home, you’ll need to get your 75 hours of certified nursing assistant training and get on your state’s nurse aide registry. 
  • Additional training hours, certification renewal, and ongoing education requirements vary by state. Program duration for Certified Nursing Assistants varies per institution. 
  • The typical program length is between a few weeks and a year. They take patient vitals and relay information about patient concerns to nurses.
  • Graduates are prepared to work as nursing aides in hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings. Certified nursing assistants often interact with patients. 
  • Workers in this field assist patients with activities of daily living, such as getting dressed, taking a shower or bath, eating, and transferring from a bed to a wheelchair. 

Contrast Between Medical Assistant And CNA


  • Medical Assistant – A medical assistant works in clinics, hospitals, and other medical institutions, performing various clinical and administrative duties.

    The clinic’s location, size, and focus all play a role in determining what responsibilities a medical assistant will have.

    Even though medical assistants learn administrative and clinical duties, those working in bigger offices or hospitals sometimes focus only on one area.
  • CNA – In healthcare settings like hospitals and nursing homes, patients need basic care provided by a nursing assistant, also known as a nursing aide.

    When it comes to helping patients, nursing assistants are typically requested to do more physically demanding activities, such as washing, repositioning, and monitoring vital signs. In contrast to medical assistants, nursing assistants focus only on the patient care side of medicine.


  • Medical Assistant – Providing assistance to attending doctors in outpatient settings is the main responsibility of a medical assistant.

    The main responsibility of a medical assistant is to facilitate two-way communication between patients and the physicians who are treating them.

    In certain areas, the scope of practice for MAs includes the administration of medication, breathing treatments, collecting and recording vital signs, administering immunizations, and minor office operations.
  • CNA – To begin, a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and a Medical Assistant (MA) have quite distinct duties to perform in a healthcare setting.

    The Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is trained to serve patients in healthcare facilities, including hospitals and nursing homes, with personal care.

    Registered nurses and licensed practical nurses are the ones in charge of supervising and delegating the patients’ day-to-day care. This kind of care includes activities such as cleaning, feeding, ambulating, and monitoring and documenting vital signs.


  • Medical Assistant – In addition to their clinical duties, some medical assistants also handle administrative chores such as taking messages, organizing appointments, and managing payment information.

    This is especially common in solo or small-group medical offices that cannot afford to hire full-time administrative employees. The medical assistant’s responsibilities expand to include administrative work in these settings.
  • CNA – The tasks of a CNA might vary greatly from one location to another and even from one day to the next. A CNA must be flexible and ready to enter new activities as the day progresses.

    For example, the patient should not be left unattended in some situations. A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) can be taken away from their regular duties and put in charge of monitoring and caring for this patient exclusively for the duration of their shift.

Role in history:

  • Medical Assistant – The Kansas Medical Assistant Society was the first organization of its type to be established in 1955, and it was done so to elevate the prestige of the medical assistant profession to that of a more legitimate occupation.

    This organization eventually evolved into the AAMA that we are familiar with and use today (AAMA)
  • CNA – Even though there has always been supporting staff working in hospitals and clinics, the norms that dictated how they should behave weren’t established until the 20th century.

    This was even though there have always been supporting people working in hospitals and clinics. The American Red Cross is credited for creating the position of volunteer nursing assistant in military hospitals during World War I.

    This is the ancestor of the Certified Nursing Assistant function, which can be traced back to the American Red Cross.

Educational requirements:

  • Medical Assistant – Those interested in becoming medical assistants may choose from various school tracks to pursue their goals.

    They can pursue either a certificate or a diploma in medical assistance as a field of study. The normal length of time for completion of one of these types of programs is from nine months to one year.

    In these classes, you will get familiar with the foundations of the medical sector, ranging from vocabulary to anatomy.
  • CNA – Certified nursing assistants are required by law to finish a state-approved training program. Community colleges, hospitals, technical institutes, and major nursing homes all provide these courses.

    Training courses for nursing assistants usually last between 10 and 24 weeks. Classroom lectures and practical exercises are also part of these methods.

    You will acquire the fundamental knowledge and practice with patients that are necessary for employment as a Certified Nursing Assistant.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. Why should you work toward being a certified nursing assistant?

There is a plethora of merit in pondering a career as a certified nursing assistant (CNA). There is no need to attend college since this is the quickest route to becoming a professional member of the healthcare team.

A training program to become a Certified Nursing Assistant may be finished in as little as four to twelve weeks, after which you can immediately begin your new career.

Q2. Is it a tough exam to get your CNA certification?

Nursing assistants may struggle with the test if they do not already have the required knowledge and competencies.

The number of questions that are asked in the written or oral component of the exam may be close to seventy, but the specific number of questions that are asked varies from state to state. In certain states, the number of questions that are asked is determined by statute.

Q3. Which kind of CNA position provides the highest pay?

Hospitals are where Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) make the most money, with an average hourly wage of $16.18.

Earning potential for CNAs with specialized training in this environment is much higher. The Intensive Care Unit (ICU), the Operating Room (OR), Telemetry, Emergency Room (ER), and Medicine and Surgery are the specialties that pay the most for Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs).

Q4. What is the one responsibility that a medical assistant is accountable for that stands out as the most important?

As a medical assistant, you have several important obligations, one of which is ensuring that the patient’s medical records are maintained up to date.

The patient’s weight, blood pressure, and responses from the pre-exam interview will need to be recorded in a computer database. Additionally, the patient’s remarks from the interview will also need to be input.

Q5. What three subspecialties fall under the umbrella of “medical assistant”?

There are three primary types of medical assistants, namely clinical, registered/certified, and administrative medical assistants.

Although medical assistants may work in diverse medical specialties, the field can be broken down into three basic categories.

Even though there are some similarities between the three kinds, the day-to-day tasks and duties of each of the three types are very different from those of the other two types.

Similar Posts:

Was this article helpful?

Leave a Comment