Should I Go for LPN or Medical Assisting?
You want to work in healthcare, but may be confused whether to choose a career as a medical assistant or licensed practical nurse. In the past decade, positions for licensed practical nurses have changed dramatically. Where once LPNs were dominant in physician offices, the profession is mostly found in nursing homes and hospitals. The medical assisting profession has stepped into traditional LPN roles in physician offices and ambulatory care centers.
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Despite sharing similar duties, a pay difference remains between the two professions. This may discourage medical assisting students who realize they may perform more for less. However, some key differences exist between LPNs and medical assistants beyond pay.
So, how do you decide between the professions? Here are some tips to help you make an informed choice:
What Are Career Differences Between an LPN and Medical Assistant?
Understanding differences between an LPN and medical assistant is important to making a career choice.
Where to find work
Most LPN jobs exist in hospitals, nursing care facilities and home health care. These positions often consist of night, weekend and holiday shifts and may be full or part time. LPNs working in these settings often care for the elderly and infirm, or patients hospitalized due to illness or surgery. In some states, LPNs are allowed to assist in childbirth and infant care. LPNs may care for patients with long-term and end-of-life needs.
Medical assistants are mostly employed in physician offices and ambulatory care centers, like outpatient surgical centers and radiology clinics. These positions often consist of daytime shifts and may include some holiday and weekend shifts as well. Medical assistants provide general patient care for a variety of illness, surgical and non-invasive procedures and yearly health exams. Medical assistants generally care for patients with short-term care needs.
What are the Salary Differences?
Salaries for both LPNs and medical assistants depend on many things, including location, the type of medical facility in which you’re employed, the job description and experience. Some positions ask for either an LPN or medical assistant because the job description is the same for both professions. There may not be a pay difference between the professions in this case.
However, some jobs may demand an LPN because specific nursing duties are required and a pay difference will exist. Pay also widely depends on location, as some areas of the United States pay higher than others.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that in 2008, the median annual salary for an LPN was $39,000. Top salaries were around $53,000 while the bottom ten percent of LPNs earned less than $28,000.
Medical assistant salaries:
The median earnings for medical assistants, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, were $28,000 in 2008. The middle fifty percent earned around $33,000 while the lowest ten percent earned less than $20,000.