Difference Between a Medical Assistant and a Patient care Technician | NEIH

Updated: Mar 19


What is an MA?

Medical Assistants or MA’s for short, are the professionals on the frontlines of healthcare. They are typically the first person to come into your room when you are at the doctor’s office. This career first came into existence in the early ’60s when the certification board for medical assistants was initially created. A career as a Medical Assistant provides people with a quick and easily obtainable position in healthcare without the years in school causing mountains of debt.

Medical Assistants (MA or CMA) are understandably often confused with CNA’s or certified nursing assistants due to the similarities in the abbreviations. However, their work responsibilities couldn’t be more different. CMA’s are healthcare workers that focus heavily on the clinical aspect of healthcare. This includes taking vitals, obtaining patient information and medical history, performing phlebotomy procedures, administrating EKGs and even conducting minor lab testing.

What’s the point of Career Advancement?

Career Advancement programs are aimed to train you in an additional skill for you to further your career and overall knowledge. They could also be used to transition into different work environments and different daily responsibilities without a complete career change. For example, if you are currently working as a Patient Care Technician and you have come to realize that this position may not be the best fit for you may want to consider transitioning into a role as a medical assistant. You can easily transition from a PCT to an MA with taking up a Clinical Medical Assistant program or seeing if you qualify to sit for your CMA exam.


How Can a career Advancement help you transition out of a hospital?

If you’re a PCT and feel that healthcare isn’t the place for you what may be happening is that you aren’t compatible with the position you are currently in rather than the healthcare field as a whole. PCT’s can have a stressful workday especially if you find your self working in an ER. Becoming a Medical Assistant will allow you to change work environments from an ER and hospital setting to a slower pace and a more relaxed doctor's office setting. Sometimes a simple adjustment is all you need rather than a complete career change.


Enrollment

Discuss your availability with advisors and find what schedules or programs may be a good fit for you based on the time-frame you can commit to the program. Talk with your advisor and see what your payment options are. Your school may have options for payment pays of various types, or pay in full options which normally have a discount attached to them. Discuss which options delivery options would be best for you. Academic advisors see a lot of students from different backgrounds and circumstances. They can give valuable suggestions on delivery options available for you. Schedules can range from Morning, Evening and Weekend classes. If you maintain a really tight schedule and find it difficult to take time out of your day to go to school, there are still options for you. You just have to find schools that offer Online and hybrid options. This delivery method enables students to work at their own pace and on their time.


How you can ensure you complete the program

  • Be on time and prepared for each class.

  • Pay attention during lectures

  • Avoid distractions, this can be other classmates!

  • Due homework and all practice questions your textbook has to offer.

  • Find your weak areas and stay on top of them.

  • Don’t be afraid to read ahead!

  • Stay on track of topics covered in class.

Tips on improving your clinical skills.

  • Treat your patients with respect

  • Understand that your patients could be coming to you on the worst day of their lives. A Little positivity could go a long way.

  • READ COMPETENCY CHECKLIST

  • FOLLOW THE STEPS!

  • Practice.

Tips for National Certification Exam

  • Get plenty of rest the night before.

  • Have a good breakfast.

  • Avoid cramming the last minute, study throughout the program not just the night before the exam.

  • If you are easily distracted, you may want to invest in some earplugs that are used for swimmers to help you block out any and all possible distractions.

  • If you don’t know and answer skip it and return to it late. Make sure you write the question number down when you do skip so you know exactly which questions were unanswered.

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EARN A CERTIFICATE OF COMPLETION

At successful completion of the program you will receive a Certification of Completion with your name on it from NEIH. A certificate of completion displays that you have successfully completed the course work required in the program. It sets a benchmark that others may or may not have achieved. 

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