Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) vs. Medical Assistant (MA)

Our discussion will focus on licensed practical nursing (LPN) vs. medical assisting.

If you’re having difficulty choosing between the two, the information below should help simplify your decision. All you have to do is read to the very end for all the information you need.

Medical Assistant vs. LPN

Before choosing a healthcare career, thorough research is necessary to determine what promises it holds.

This becomes even more important when you can’t seem to make up your mind between multiple career options. Here, we compare two medical professions you may be interested.

  • About LPNs

As the name implies, licensed practical nurses have licensed healthcare professionals that work in various settings like nursing homes, hospitals, home agencies, etc.

They offer supportive services to doctors and nurses in catering to patient needs.

Also known as licensed vocational nurses (LVN), their functions or roles are collaborative. LPNs handle various tasks, such as changing wound dressings, recording patient vitals, and reporting patient status. More on these have been discussed below.

Licensed practical nurses usually work in a local nursing capacity. In other words, they have to work under the delegation and supervision of a registered nurse.

  • About Medical Assistants

These health professionals offer delegated assistance to physicians and work in clinics and medical offices.

In a bid to pursue a medical assisting career, you get to choose whether to specialize in administrative medical assisting or clinical medical assisting.

In many cases, medical assistants tend to carry out a combination of the two.

In the case of administrative medical assisting, you’ll be helping to coordinate patient appointments while also updating patient records.

Medical assistants working in clinical settings help record vital signs, prepare examination rooms for patients and collect samples, amongst other responsibilities.

MA vs. LPN – Comparison

Detailed comparisons between LPN and medical assisting will require considering certain vital aspects.

Such include work settings, job descriptions, education & licensing, skills, salaries, study duration, and job prospects. Let’s have a look at each of these points for more clarity.

i. Work Settings

Regarding working settings for each profession, LPNs work in physician’s clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, and patients’ private homes.

LPNs can also work in correctional facilities, residential care facilities, hospitals, rehab facilities, and outpatient surgery centers.

You’ll also find LPNs working in schools, immunization clinics, insurance companies, and medical or clinical call centers. There are some similarities with medical assistants.

These professionals (medical assistants) work in nursing homes, ambulatory services, and outpatient medical facilities.

Medical assistants also work in diagnostic & medical laboratories, hospitals, colleges & universities, medical research centers, and insurance carriers.

ii. Job Descriptions

There’s a long list of job descriptions associated with both healthcare professions.

For LPNs, these include assembling equipment like catheters, gastronomy tubes, and oxygen supplies, providing primary bedside care, taking patient vital signs, and checking a patient’s eating habits.

LPNs also educate and encourage patients, inform patients about test results and doctor’s orders, interview patients, and regulate injections and vaccinations.

On the other hand, medical assistants handle tasks like sterilizing medical equipment, scheduling appointments, and answering phone calls.

Other job descriptions of medical assistants include injecting vaccinations, performing intake assessments, completing data entry, filing insurance claims, recording blood pressure, and drawing blood.

iii. Education & Licensing

To become an LPN, you’ll need to earn a nursing diploma. This is also required for getting licensed.

There are multiple routes to achieving this objective, including taking an accelerated program completed in less than nine months. Part-time study is another option that takes longer.

Taking a licensing exam follows the completion of the program. Such licensing may have to be renewed every two years via continuing education credits.

The educational route to becoming a medical assistant depends on your state. Some require a GED or high school diploma. The program you choose will determine how soon you complete your study.

In terms of licensing, non applies to medical assisting.

iv. Skills

Specific skills are needed by LPNs and medical assistants for the adequate performance of their tasks.

For LPNs, essential skills include treatment planning, organization, CPR, emergency first aid, time management, teaching, active listening, and knowledge of medical terminology.

Like LPNs, medical assistants need specific basic skills to function effectively. Examples include customer service, scheduling, and medical billing.

Additional skills include medical coding, bookkeeping, focus, and attention to detail. Most of these skills are learned during training.

v. Salaries

The earning potential of a healthcare career is always a key factor for aspiring professionals.

For the most part, LPNs tend to earn higher salaries compared to medical assistants. On average, LPNs receive around $56,188 per year, while medical assistants earn an average salary of $46,596 per year.

Now salaries received by these professionals can be impacted by several factors like location, education, employer, and experience.

vi. Study Duration

Before deciding what healthcare profession to go for between the two, you might want to consider the study duration involved.

The study duration largely depends on your preferred mode of study, full or part-time.

Both of these healthcare careers take around nine months to complete. This will be good news to persons seeking to commit to a considerably shorter study period.

However, part-time study for either career will take around two years.

vii. Job Prospects

Job prospects also come into focus when weighing between LPN and medical assisting. Without a doubt, both fields offer employment opportunities.

However, such may not be equal in terms of the availability of job openings.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for LPNs is expected to increase significantly, with around 78,100 recruitments annually until 2028.

Demand for medical assistants is also expected to rise with many job openings available.

Has the information above been beneficial? We’ve included key aspects of comparison to enable you quickly compare and contrast these meaningful healthcare careers.

With the information supplied, you should have fewer problems identifying your preferred field of study.