Distinguishing Medical Assistants & Certified Nursing Assistants

Medical Assistant vs CNA

If you’re considering a career in the medical field and want to care for patients, you don’t necessarily need a medical degree to become a doctor. You can become part of the healthcare system by becoming a medical assistant or a certified nursing assistant. Both roles involve healthcare professionals who provide care and serve patients of all ages and conditions. However, there are significant differences between the responsibilities and work areas of a medical assistant and a certified nursing assistant. This article will highlight these differences, helping those interested in joining the healthcare system to decide between the two roles.

Medical Assistant

A medical assistant is a professional who supports doctors and medical staff by performing various clerical and administrative duties. They are essential in the medical record-keeping system, using and maintaining medical instruments, collecting samples of blood, urine, and cough from patients for lab testing, and generally taking care of patients’ prep work, such as cleaning, feeding, and taking vital signs like blood pressure and temperature.

No formal training is required to become a medical assistant, and anyone with a High School Diploma can apply for the role. However, to become a registered or certified medical assistant, an individual must pass the examination conducted by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). Medical assistants can be found working with physicians and other healthcare facilities, such as hospitals and nursing homes.


CNA stands for Certified Nursing Assistant. A certified nursing assistant is an assistant to a nurse and performs a wide range of duties to help lessen the nurses’ workload. In addition to taking patients’ temperature and blood pressure, a CNA also helps with cleaning, bathing, and feeding patients of all ages and physical conditions. Generally, a CNA is a caregiver to a category of patients who are not very serious but require assistance to complete their personal maintenance necessary between medical checkups and other procedures. CNAs work with elderly patients, taking their vital signs, ordering tests, and recording information after asking questions about their health conditions. The most important virtues in a CNA are empathy, compassion, and patience.

To become a CNA, an individual must pass a competency test and complete 75 hours of on-the-job training.

Key Takeaways

  • Medical assistants perform more administrative and clerical duties than CNAs.
  • Medical assistants require the presence of a doctor in a healthcare setting, whereas CNAs primarily assist nurses.
  • CNAs must complete 75 hours of state-approved training and pass a competency test, while medical assistants must pass an exam conducted by AAMA.
Dmitri Ivanov
Dmitri Ivanovhttps://whats-different.com
Dmitri Ivanov, a writer and managing editor, was educated in Canada and holds a BS in Science. Dmitri loves doing research, writing, and teaching various courses.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles