CMA vs. CNA: What’s the Difference?

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When it comes to the medical profession, there are a number of different jobs and roles. Whether you go all the way through medical school to become a surgeon or a doctor or decide that your skills are better utilized in nursing, phlebotomy, or anything else, working in the medical field is difficult for everyone. But when you start looking at all of the different roles that are out there, it can become even more confusing.

If you’re looking at being a part of the medical profession, then you may be looking at things like CNA, LPN, RN, CMA, and all the other acronyms out there. They can get a little confusing, and you may find yourself struggling to know even what they all are or how they could apply to you and your future plans. We’re going to take a look at two of these different career options, namely CMA vs. CNA.

With either of these two fields, you will be working in the medical profession, but your role and the people that you are directly interacting with is going to be a little different. That’s important when it comes to deciding which way you would prefer to go and how you would like to dedicate your life. After all, no one wants to choose the wrong career, and understanding what each of these roles is responsible for will help you avoid that problem.

Let’s take a look at what you can do, whether you’re a CAN or a CMA, so you can make the right choice from the start.

What is a CMA?What is a CMA?

Let’s start with a CMA nurse and what does a CMA do. A CMA is a Certified Medical Assistant. These individuals have duties related to working with a medical provider. In fact, they may obtain medical and medication history, conduct physical exams, check vital signs, and take down allergy information. In general, they are responsible for preparing patients to see a doctor or even carrying out some actions on behalf of the doctor if they are directed to do so.

That means a CMA might administer medications such as intramuscular injections or immunization. They might assist with in-office procedures, including surgery. They can even splint broken bones, perform general wound care, and carry out phlebotomy duties. Not only that, but they can be responsible for clerical needs within the office that include cleaning and sanitizing rooms, stocking equipment, and more. Your CMA study guide is going to focus a lot on administration.

Most CMA’s will work in medical clinics with out-patient interaction or in an urgent care setting. Their role is primarily to help with specific medical duties and engage with the medical professional, though they will be interacting a great deal with the patient as well. A CMA could potentially go on to work even more in an administrative capacity by leaving a doctor’s office entirely. They could be employed in a facility that is strictly related to administrative work. If you don’t like administrative tasks, this is likely not the right profession for you, as this will be a large share of what you are responsible for with less interaction directly with patients.

What is a CNA?

What is a CNA?

A CNA is a Certified Nursing Assistant. What does a CNA do? They are typically responsible for working directly with a patient or, more often, several patients that are assigned to their care. This includes assisting with personal care and routines such as activities of daily living. These can consist of bathing, making beds, turning patients, and more. They are responsible for the general care and for making sure that patients receive the personal services that they need while in a medical facility.

A CNA is not responsible for more advanced medical care and does not administer any type of medication. In fact, they generally do not make any form of decisions on their own but defer to a nurse on duty. These professionals are responsible for the minor care that is necessary for a patient but must contact the nurse on duty for any more significant needs or to make any decisions related to patient care.

Most CNAs work in nursing homes or in hospitals, but they cannot work in either of these areas alone. Because their allowed duties are limited, they must always be working under the supervision of a nurse who can take care of the additional needs of the patient. Many CNA’s will go on to nursing school to become an RN or even continue on to become a PA or even a doctor. Getting a CNA certification is relatively simple and does not take a lot of time, which makes it a significant first step to ensure that nursing is the right field for you.

Difference Between Duties of CMAs and CNAs

Difference Between Duties of CMAs and CNAs

When it comes to the difference between CNA and CMA, there are quite a few differences. Both of these professionals are within the medical profession, but that’s where most of their similarities end. While a CMA will typically work in an out-patient clinic or urgent care center, a CNA will generally work in a hospital or nursing home facility.

Where a CMA is able to perform minor medical care for a patient under the direction of a doctor, a CNA is only able to perform general personal care for a patient under the supervision of a nurse. The CMA is also responsible for other tasks that might be related to running the facility that they work at, while a CNA is responsible only for the personal care assignments that they are given. All of this means that there is a great deal of difference, and while CNA’s do work directly with patients at all times in their job, this does not mean that they have near the same level of autonomy.

If you prefer to interact directly with patients, then you may prefer to be a CNA, even though you will generally have less freedom and fewer activities you can do. You will be spending nearly all of your time at work directly interacting with patients, however, which can be personally rewarding even if you don’t get to have a lot of autonomy in the process.

If you prefer autonomy or if you want to work in the medical profession, but you don’t necessarily want to interact directly with patients all the time, you may prefer being a CMA. These professionals do a lot of work in running their facilities, such as paperwork and other administrative tasks.

Who Gets Paid More: CMA or CNA?

Who Gets Paid More: CMA or CNA?

When you look at the pay scale for a CMA vs. a CNA, you can definitely see that there are differences. The average rate of pay for a CNA is approximately $25,000 to $30,000 per year. For a CMA, however, the average rate of pay is $30,000 to $35,000 per year. These rates can vary slightly or drastically depending on just where the individual is working.

Some CMA’s or CNA’s may earn slightly more or less depending on the facility that they work for and the state that they live in. In general, however, a CMA will make more than a CNA, no matter where they are working or which state they are employed in. This is because the CMA has additional skills and responsibilities compared to the CNA and is paid accordingly.

Keep in mind that in the medical profession, it’s often not about the amount of money that you make. The key is how big of a difference you’re going to make in someone’s life or what area you find the most personally rewarding. If you are looking to get a career in the medical field that will bring in a certain level of income, you’ll want to think carefully about whether these professions will do it or if you would like to continue on in your education to get a higher degree.

Can a CMA work as a CNA?

Can a CMA Work as a CNA?

While CMA’s are generally considered more autonomous than CNA’s and may be responsible for additional tasks that a CNA is not able to perform, this does not mean that the CMA is able to work as a CNA. In fact, there are specific requirements that CAN’s must complete that CMA’s have not. For this reason, the CMA and the CNA jobs are not interchangeable in either direction.

A CMA who wishes to work as a CNA will need to take additional courses and certification in order to do so. A CNA looking to work as a CMA will also need to complete other requirements in order to receive their certificate.

For example, a CNA must complete 75 hours of training and take a certification test. A CMA must complete a one-year certification degree or even a two-year associate’s degree. For either of these roles to change, the individual would need to meet the full requirements of the other position in order to get a new job.

A CNA may have some ability to carry over experience or some of their certifications toward the requirements for a degree; however, this is not guaranteed. Likewise, a CMA may be able to count some of their hours of schooling toward the training required for the CNA certification, but this would not necessarily be the case.

In general, if you are working as one or the other of these professions and decide that you would like to change the course, you will need to go back to school or a training program in order to become properly certified to work in the other profession. That’s why it’s best if you do the research on which career you prefer before you decide to go to school for either.

Wrapping Things Up: CMA vs. CNA: What’s the Difference

If you’re looking at getting a degree or certification and you’re not sure where you want to go, make sure you’re looking at each of these different options. There are some significant differences between being a CNA and a CMA, and you don’t want to mix them up because you’ll end up in a career you don’t like or going back to school again.

A CMA has more formal education, but they work less with the patient directly. If they do work with the patient, however, they have more control and more say over what they are doing. They also have more responsibilities under the direction of the doctor.

A CNA has very little formal education and achieves a certificate, but they will work more directly with the patient. They will not have a lot of responsibilities or autonomy, even when directed by a nurse. They will, however, be involved in the personal care of their patients.

Take a close look at each of the different tasks and duties associated with each profession, as well as possible pay scales. These things will help you determine whether you’re making the right decision and going into a career that you’re going to enjoy.

Looking for more CNA resources? You may find these helpful:

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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