Medical assistants play a very valuable role, but they are NOT nurses !
Medical assistants play a very valuable
role, but they are NOT nurses !

Medical assistant vs nurse – similarities and differences

The health care industry is constantly expanding. Choosing a job in the health care industry provides individuals with ample opportunities to find employment in a variety of environments. Two popular career choices in this industry include medical assisting and nursing. Although they share some similarities when it comes to job duties, work environment and schedules, medical assisting and nursing are two very different careers.

Patient Care

Providing patient care is one job duty shared among medical assistants and nurses. Providing patient care includes assisting patient with activities of daily living, such as hygiene and feeding, wound care and preparing patients for diagnostic testing or procedures. MA and nurses are both responsible for preventing the spread of infection and illness by providing patients with a clean environment where they receive their care. This includes changing bed linens, cleaning non-disposable equipment and disinfecting areas that are shared by patients.

Job duties

Although they share some similar job duties there are a large number of differences between the duties performed by a medical assistant and those performed by a nurse. MA are typically assigned a variety of responsibilities including patient care and administrative duties.

Job duties for nurses typically focus on patient care and include a minimal amount of administrative duties. Medical assistants follow a doctor’s orders and only perform the type of care expressed directly by the physician. Nurses also follow doctor’s order; however they are also trained to write patient care plans.

Another difference in job duties for MA and nurses include administrative duties. MA often perform administrative duties such as scheduling patients, answering telephones and medical billing. Administrative duties performed by nurses include documenting a patient’s condition and writing care plans.


Education is an area in which there are many differences between a medical assistant and nurse. Training is necessary for an individual to successfully work as a MA. Although recommended, medical assistants are not required to go through any type of formal training program in order to work as a MA.

A career in nursing requires the completion of an accredited training program as well as certification/licensure through the state in which they intend to work. Nursing programs are found at universities and colleges across the country. There are several types of nursing programs that offer varying degrees that range from licensed practical nurse to nurse practitioner.

Article Written by Rachel Dennis

Rachel Dennis works as both a professional writer and health care provider. She has been a licensed health care provider since 1998, with work experience as a medical assistant, certified nursing assistant and emergency medical technician. She has been writing since 1994 and has been published both on-line and in print.


3 Responses to “Medical assistant vs nurse – similarities and differences”
  1. Cristiano says:

    Everyone knows it is very hard to take care of your children and also balacne that with taking care of your parent as well, but it can be done. In Leviticus 19:32, Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD.’

  2. Lerato says:

    If I’m doing Medical Assistance is it possible to further my studies in the field of nursing?

    • M.A says:

      Yes you can, I graduated as Medical Assistant in 2009, now I doing an RN job Almost, I`m doing BD , IV`s, Pts education and more duties to list.

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