Medical Assistant vs Nurse Aide: Which Career Path Suits You?
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If you’re considering a career in the medical field, becoming a nurse aide or a medical assistant could be the easiest way to break into medical practice. Both jobs require you to collaborate with other nurses and physicians, and patients within medical setups.

The two careers aren’t the same, and you need to understand the difference between a medical assistant and a nurse aide. Here is everything you need to know:

What Is a Medical Assistant?

Medical assistants undertake administrative and clinical tasks in physicians’ offices, hospitals, and other health care facilities. Depending on the size, location, and specialty of the medical facility, their duties may vary from office to office.

A medical assistant is generally expected to:

  • Schedule appointments, laboratory services, and hospital admissions
  • File and update patient health records
  • Administer medications and injections
  • Make treatment rooms ready for patient examinations
  • Explain treatment procedures to patients
  • Perform basic laboratory tests, and collect laboratory specimens


If you’re looking to become a medical assistant, you’ll need to achieve a high school diploma before completing a post-secondary program. You’ll earn a certificate if you complete a one-year community college or trade school program, and an associate degree if you undertake a two-year community college program.

The programs enable you to learn and master important medical terms, including anatomy, EHRs, and other basics. This means you’ll need to attend classes, as well as several laboratory sessions, to qualify as a medical assistant.

While many states may not require you to have licenses and certifications, most employers may need the following credentials to help you complete your career path to a medical assistant job:

  • Certified Medical Administrative Assistant: Pass the 110-question test to get this NHA credential.
  • Registered Medical Nurse: Pass an exam, pay an annual fee to the American Medical Technologist, and obtain continuing education credits yearly.
  • Certified Medical Assistant: Complete and pass a 200-question exam by the American Association of Medical Assistants, and renew it every 5 years.
  • Certified Clinical Medical Assistant: Another NHA requirement attained by completing a 110-question exam.

What Is a Nurse Aide?

Nursing aides, also known as nursing assistants, have a more physically demanding job compared to medical assistants. This is because they work directly with patients, providing basic care in nursing facilities and hospitals.

A nursing aide’s tasks include:

  • Repositioning bedridden patients
  • Measuring and recording patients’ liquid and food intake
  • Measuring and recording patients’ fecal and urinary output
  • Responding to patients’ call signals
  • Helping patients perform daily living activities


Nursing assistants need to pass state-approved programs offered in high schools, trade schools, community colleges, and private companies. These training programs help aspiring nursing aides to learn the basics of the job through classroom and clinical work.

To complete the career path to a nurse aide job, prospective nurse aids need to complete and pass a final exam to be registered to work in long-term care facilities or nursing homes. They would not need any licensing and may undergo on-the-job training to master the specific skills needed by their employers.

Partner With Us

If you’re looking to become a qualified nurse aide or medical assistant, you may consider joining Southern Careers Institute. We have the capacity to prepare you with the skills you need to become a successful medical assistant or nurse aide from technical training to hands-on experience. To learn more about our medical assistant and nurse aide training programs, please contact us today.

This article was published on: 01/12/22 5:51 PM

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Bonnie M
Medical Assistant

“I am now a certified Lab Tech. SCI helped me get an externship, and I came out with a job. After my little sister had cancer, I knew I wanted a career in the medical field that allowed me to help others. I am happy about what I do.”


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