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Licensed Vocational Nurse vs Medical Assistant

Licensed Vocational Nurse vs Medical Assistant

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When it comes to pursuing a career in the healthcare industry, there are many options to choose from. Two popular choices are becoming a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) or a medical assistant (MA). While both professions involve providing care to patients, there are some key differences between the two. In this blog post, we will explore the roles and responsibilities of LVNs and MAs, as well as the education and training required for each. We will also compare their career outlook and salary potential. So, if you're considering a career in healthcare but aren't sure which path to take, keep reading to learn more about the differences between a licensed vocational nurse and a medical assistant.

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What is a Licensed Vocational Nurse and Medical Assistant?

Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)

A licensed vocational nurse, also known as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) in some states, is a healthcare professional who provides basic nursing care under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs) and physicians. LVNs work in various healthcare settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics, and their duties may include:

  • Taking patients' vital signs, such as blood pressure, temperature, and pulse rate
  • Administering medication and injections
  • Assisting with patient hygiene, such as bathing and dressing
  • Monitoring patients' health conditions and reporting any changes to the healthcare team
  • Collecting samples for laboratory testing
  • Providing emotional support to patients and their families

Medical Assistant (MA)

A medical assistant is a versatile healthcare professional who performs both administrative and clinical tasks. MAs work in various healthcare settings, such as hospitals, clinics, and physician's offices, and their duties may include:

  • Assisting with patient intake, such as taking medical history and vital signs
  • Scheduling appointments and managing medical records
  • Assisting healthcare providers during examinations and procedures
  • Administering medications and injections, under the supervision of a healthcare provider
  • Performing basic laboratory tests, such as blood draws and urine analysis
  • Providing patient education on medications and procedures

Difference between a Licensed Vocational Nurse and Medical Assistant

While both LVNs and MAs play important roles in the healthcare team, there are some key differences between the two professions. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Scope of practice: LVNs have a broader scope of practice compared to MAs. They are authorized to perform more advanced nursing tasks, such as administering medications and managing intravenous (IV) therapy. MAs, on the other hand, are limited to performing basic clinical tasks under the supervision of a healthcare provider.
  • Supervision: LVNs work under the supervision of registered nurses or physicians, while MAs work under the supervision of healthcare providers, such as physicians or nurse practitioners.
  • Education and training: The education and training requirements for LVNs and MAs also differ. LVNs typically complete a one-year vocational nursing program and must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) to become licensed. MAs, on the other hand, can complete a one-year certificate program or an associate degree program. Certification is optional but can enhance job prospects.
  • Career advancement: LVNs have more opportunities for career advancement compared to MAs. They can pursue further education to become registered nurses (RNs) or specialize in areas such as geriatrics or pediatrics. MAs can also pursue further education, such as becoming a registered medical assistant (RMA) or pursuing a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration.

Licensed Vocational Nurse vs Medical Assistant: Job Description

Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)

LVNs play a crucial role in patient care. Their job duties may include:

  • Administering medication and injections
  • Monitoring patients' health conditions
  • Assisting with patient hygiene and comfort
  • Collecting samples for laboratory testing
  • Providing emotional support to patients and their families
  • Collaborating with the healthcare team to develop and implement care plans

Medical Assistant (MA)

MAs perform a variety of administrative and clinical tasks. Their job duties may include:

  • Assisting with patient intake and medical history
  • Scheduling appointments and managing medical records
  • Assisting healthcare providers during examinations and procedures
  • Administering medications and injections, under supervision
  • Performing basic laboratory tests
  • Providing patient education on medications and procedures

Licensed Vocational Nurse vs Medical Assistant: Education and Training

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Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)

To become an LVN, individuals must complete a vocational nursing program, which typically takes about one year to complete. These programs are offered by vocational schools, community colleges, and some hospitals. The curriculum includes classroom instruction as well as hands-on clinical training. After completing the program, graduates are eligible to take the NCLEX-PN exam to become licensed.

Medical Assistant (MA)

There are multiple pathways to become a medical assistant. Some individuals complete a one-year certificate program, while others pursue an associate degree in medical assisting, which typically takes about two years to complete. These programs are offered by community colleges and vocational schools. The curriculum includes both classroom instruction and hands-on clinical training. Certification is optional but can enhance job prospects. The Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential is offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), while the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credential is offered by the American Medical Technologists (AMT).

Licensed Vocational Nurse vs Medical Assistant: Career Outlook and Salary

Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses is projected to grow 9 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations. The demand for LVNs is driven by the aging population and the need for healthcare services. As of May 2020, the median annual wage for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses was $48,820.

Medical Assistant (MA)

The employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 19 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the BLS. The demand for MAs is also driven by the aging population and the need for healthcare services. As of May 2020, the median annual wage for medical assistants was $35,850.

Final Thoughts

Both licensed vocational nurses and medical assistants play important roles in the healthcare industry. While LVNs have a broader scope of practice and more opportunities for career advancement, MAs are versatile professionals who perform both administrative and clinical tasks. When deciding which career path to pursue, it's important to consider your interests, educational goals, and long-term career aspirations. Ultimately, both professions offer rewarding opportunities to make a positive impact on patients' lives.

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Stephanie Dayak
Written by
Stephanie Dayak

Stephanie Dayak is the go-to person for everything related to automation and integrations at Dreambound. As a Certified Tax Technician turned tech whiz, her sharp eye for detail and passion for efficiency become evident in every project she undertakes. When not solving tech puzzles, she's out exploring the local food scene, cozying up with her dogs, or plugged into a thought-provoking podcast. She's an ardent believer in mixing fun with functionality!

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