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Medical Assistant vs. Registered Nurses: What Exactly is the Difference?

There are quite a number of differences between medical assistants and registered nurses. For the scope of this article, I will focus on the following main categories:

1. Duties/Responsibilities

Although medical assistants and registered nurses may share some duties and responsibilities, there is always a limit. Remember, these are two different careers and even the training program is not the same.

Here are a few things you should note:

Medical assistants can perform a range of tasks and duties. These may include administrative, clerical and patient care duties.

Some practical examples are answering telephones, changing bed covers, disinfecting beds, medical billing etc.

On the other hand, registered nurses focus on patient care with very minimal administrative tasks. In most cases, nurses write care plans and document condition of the patients, which is not the case for medical assistants.

Medical assistants strictly follow either doctors or nurses’ directives/instructions. However, even though nurses may follow doctors’ directives they may also outline patient care plans since this is part of their training.

2. Education and Training

In most cases, it takes 6 to 12 months for one to become a medical assistant. On the other hand, an Associate Degree in Nursing takes 2 years while a Bachelor’s degree takes between 3 to 4 years.

Obviously, you will take more years to become a registered nurse than a medical assistant.

3. Work Environment

Well, both the medical assistant and registered nurses work in medical facilities or hospitals. However, there are critical factors that distinguish the two careers and they include:

• Registered nurses earn nearly twice the salary of medical assistants. For instance, hourly wage for registered nurses is $28.47 while that of medical assistants is $14.69.

• The working hours and conditions may vary depending on the employer.

Generally, it is the registered nurses who are directly responsible for the well-being of patients and they also earn more than medical assistants.

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