Is There a Difference Between CNAs & CMAs?

Is There a Difference Between CNAs and CMAs?

Published on Sunday, December 06, 2015
Is There a Difference Between CNAs and CMAs?

If you plan on becoming a CNA, you may have heard the term CMA mentioned from time to time. Just what is a CMA? Is it the same thing as a CNA, or are they two totally different occupations? Although nursing assistant and medical assistant careers are quite similar in some ways, they are also very different in other areas.

The main differences between CNA and CMA careers involve four key areas: training requirements, job responsibilities, work environments and average yearly salaries. In the information provided below, we will examine these areas and briefly discuss how they differ for each career.

Training Requirements

Perhaps the biggest difference between CNA and CMA careers is the training required for each occupation. While aspiring nursing assistants only need to complete a short four to eight week training program, medical assistants must complete a certification degree or associate degree before they can become certified.

While the extra training that CMAs complete can equate to higher-paying job positions, the training that CNAs complete places them in a better position to move on to nursing careers. This is because much of the coursework in CNA programs are required for LPN and LVN programs as well and can be easily transferred.

Common Job Responsibilities

Nursing assistant and medical assistant careers also differ in their common job responsibilities. Whereas CNAs are involved mainly in direct patient care, CMAs are not. The primary responsibilities of CNAs are to ensure that patients are comfortable and to report any abnormalities to the nurse in charge.

The main responsibilities of CMAs, on the other hand, are to prepare patients for doctors and to perform various clerical tasks. Of course, there may be many times when the job responsibilities of these two positions overlap depending on such things as patients' immediate needs and shortages in staffing.

Typical Work Environments

Because of the different job responsibilities of these two careers, they are often found in different work environments. The most common work environments for nursing assistants include nursing homes, assisted living centers, hospice centers, rehabilitation centers and home healthcare companies.

However, the most common work environments for medical assistants include hospitals, urgent care centers, specialty hospitals and physician's clinics. Additionally, while CNAs work under such medical professionals as practical, vocational or registered nurses, CMAs work under licensed physicians, psychiatrists or surgeons.

Average Yearly Salaries

Finally, there is a slight difference in the average yearly salaries for CNAs and CMAs. Based on information provided by the United States Department of Labor, medical assistants earn slightly more per year than nursing assistants. While CMAs earned an average of $31,220 per year in 2014, CNAs earned an average of $26,250 per year during the same year.

The typical salary range for each of these careers differs a bit as well, with CNAs earning anywhere from $18,790 to $36,170 yearly and CMAs earning $21,540 to $42,760 per year. Both careers are high in demand today, and the U.S. Department of Labor expects both of them to grow by 21 and 29 percent respectively until 2022.

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