Difference Between Medical Assistant and CNA

Medical Assistant vs CNA

If you are a young man or a woman desirous of entering the noble medical profession as you want to take care of the patients, it is not necessary to get a medical degree to become a doctor. You can enter the medical world as a medical assistant or a certified nursing assistant to become a part of the healthcare system. Both titles refer to healthcare professionals who provide care and serve patients of all ages and condition. Despite overlapping, there is a great deal of difference between the responsibilities and the area of work of a medical assistant and a certified nursing assistant. This article is meant to highlight these differences to enable young people desirous of becoming a part of the healthcare system to choose one of the either roles.

Medical Assistant

A medical assistant, as the name implies, is a professional who provides support to the doctors and medical staff by performing many of the clerical and administrative duties. They are invaluable help in the medical record keeping system, using and maintaining medical instruments, collecting samples of blood, urine, and cough of patients for lab testing and, in general, taking care of the prep work of the patients such as cleaning them, feeding them, and taking their vital signs such as blood pressure and temperature.

To become a medical assistant, no formal training is required, and anyone who holds a High School Diploma can apply to become a medical assistant. However, to become a registered or certified medical assistant, an individual is required to pass the examination conducted by American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). A medical assistant can be seen working with physicians and other health care 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 wide ranging duties to help the nurses to lessen their workload. Besides taking temperature and blood pressure of the patients, a CNA also helps in cleaning, bathing, and in feeding patients of all ages and physical conditions. In general, a CNA is a care giver to a category of patients who are not very serious but require assistance to complete their personal maintenance that is necessary in between medical checkups and other procedures. CNAs are seen working with old age patients taking their vital signs, ordering tests and recording information after getting answers to questions from the patients about their health condition. The most important virtues in a CNA are empathy and compassion besides having patience.

To become a CNA, an individual requires passing a competency test and 75 hours of on the job training.

What is the difference between Medical Assistant and CNA?

• Medical assistants perform more of administrative and clerical duties than CNAs.

• Medical assistant requires the presence of a doctor in a healthcare setting whereas CNA is more of a help to nurses.

• CNA works to provide care to patients whereas medical assistant can be employed to perform wide ranging duties.

• CNA requires undergoing 75 hours of state approved training and passing a competency test while a medical assistant requires passing an exam conducted by AAMA.

• CNAs perform basic care to patients while medical assistants perform many clinical tasks.