Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Important Differences Between the LPN and Medical Assistant

Soon2bRN has left us the following comment:

I am an LPN who also graduated college from a medical assisting program and became a CMA.

I took the Medical Assisting program first. All of our heads (the students) were pumped with these ideas that LPN's are being phased out and Med. Asst. do the same job. I bought into this bogus idea and so did the rest of the students; I also felt that I should have been paid what LPN's were paid because we "do the same things".

I am now an LPN, and let me tell you, there is so much more that we do that a Medical Assistant is nowhere near trained to do. The skill and knowledge, as well as responsibilities are vastly different. I have so much more respect for LPN's now. We have far more responsibility, and have independent tasks (without MD supervision). We must be able to recognize changes or signs in our patients that a Medical Assistant is not trained to recognize, and know what these changes may indicate.

Do not be ignorant to the fact that the amount of time which you attend school is not what is important, it is the content of the curriculum that makes the difference. After being on both sides, I can honestly say LPN's and Medical Assistant should not be compensated equally.

Nursing is based on the nursing process, which is a very methodical way of critical thinking and assessment, planning, diagnosing, etc; Medical Assistants are not trained in this, they do not learn theory.

Medical Assistants are definitely important to the healthcare industry but their depth of knowledge is not nearly on the level of an LPN. You must also remember LPN's have licenses, not certification. We need to spend our time continually observing and assessing our patients, suctioning trachs, administering tube feedings, and writing detailed "NURSING NOTES" (just to name a few)because those are our responsibilities as licensed professionals.

LPN's and RN's may also be called to help prove malpractice in court because we are thought to have concrete knowledge in patient care as LICENSED professionals. It is ILLEGAL for Medical Assistants to call themselves nurses. Patients have a right to know the accurate credentials of their healthcare providers.

In closing: Medical Assistants are needed in this industry, and so are LPS's. LPN's are not, and I repeat, are not, being phased out! There was recently a conference on CNN with Bloomberg about nursing and they are developing more LPN programs in NYC because more LPN's are needed. Does that sound like we are being phased out, I don't think so.

This is something that Medical Asssistant schools would like you to believe so you can enroll into the Medical Assistant program. I fell for it to. Trust me, this was told to me by a reliable source (a school administrator) once I became an LPN. Needless to say I was livid to learn this after the fact. And no LPN's don't learn the administrative side because that is not our job.

Hope this was helpful.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Opportunities in Medical Assisting

The following was submitted to me via this Blog's comment function, but because comments can be easily missed I have decided to add it directly into our Blog. Unfortunately, it was sent anonymously, and I cannot give proper credit. I am, however, sure, the person who's sent this will not mind. Perhaps he/she will comment again directly under this post.

Thank you!!!

Here it goes:
I'm a Certified and Registered Medical Assistant. All of my experience as an MA has been in the acute-care hospital setting. There has been a trend in hiring MAs in the hospitals.

When you work in an acute care setting versus an ambulatory setting such as a Doctor's office, you make more. Most Hospital-based MAs in the area that I work in make about $23 an hour. There seems to be a lot of MA versus LPN and LPN vs MA on this website regarding scope of practice and wage dispute.

It's true that there is similar training and educational background in the pathways between MAs and LPNs, but where MAs get the administrative side of healthcare, the LPNs get into the more acute care assessment side of patient care. The LPNs are trained more in the direct patient care and can function under their own license.

We as MAs (whether we are CERTIFIED and/or REGISTERED or choose not to be) must work under the supervision of an MD or RN. The role of the MA and LPN in the traditional doctor's office and clinic may be very similar, but the LPNs can also listen to hearts and lungs and make patient care assessment. We as MAs cannot. But we as MAs do have the advantage of having both our clinical and administrative training and are a very valuable team member.

And in many situations, we are a patient care advocate and are often the first person that the patient may request (whether it's the doctor's office or the acute care setting) when they have a question. I also have seen a great phasing out of the LPNs in both of the settings. MAs are being utilized more over the CNAs and the LPNs in our hospitals, as well as often being the working majority in the outpatient clinics and doctor's offices.

Whatever the future holds for them and us, we will always have jobs and be valuable. There should be no us or them. We are supposed to be team players. Yes; LPNs do often get paid more-but it's not that much more that an MA wage. They deserve it based on their education and amount of clinical hours that they put in.

Does it make them more valuable? That depends on what type of work setting they are employed in and what is expected of them and the MAs that they work with. The unfortunate thing is that no matter how many credentials we MAs choose to test for and earn, it still doesn't always increase our wage.

I also have various healthcare assistant licenses (for my MA scope of practice to perform venipunctures and injections) but that still doesn't increase my wage, either. But I do make a good wage as a hospital-based Medical Assistant. And I believe that my experience coupled w/all of my credentials is what got me into the acute care setting.

So; opting to be Certified and credentialed for various specialties (like phlebotomy, ekg, administrative and clinical medical assistant, etc...) does open up doors. Good luck to all the Medical Assistants out there. You all obviously are very passionate about patient care and proud of your role and title.
You deserve to be.

To learn more about educational requirements, and practical tips for handling emergencies, and proper documentation visit Medical Assistant Net on the Web. There is lots of additional "scope of practice for medical assistants" info at that web site.