Certified Medical Assistant: Promising Career of the Future

Job opportunities are on the rise in Certified Medical Assisting. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in this industry is projected to grow much faster than average, ranking medical assistants among the fastest growing occupations between 2008 and 2018—seeing a 34 percent increase within the decade.

As a Medical Assisting Instructor, many questions about the nature of this career are fielded my way, like: “What exactly is a Certified Medical Assistant?”…or, “How does this career path differ from a Licensed Practical Nurse?” Below you will find a chart that highlights the similarities and differences in job duties between Certified Medical Assistants and Licensed Practical Nurses.

Certified Medical Assistants Compared to Licensed Practical Nurses


Job Duty
Certified Medical Assistant
Licensed Practical Nurse
Record patients' medical history
Yes
Yes
Administer medications as directed by a physician
Yes
Yes
Drawing Blood
Yes
No
Perform CLIA Waived Lab Testing
Yes
No
Assist in Minor Surgical Procedures
Yes
Yes
Perform Medical/Procedural Coding
Yes
No
Perform Spirometry Testing
Yes
Yes
Administer and monitor catheters
Yes
Yes
Sterilize equipment by autoclave
Yes
No
Instructing patients on medication and special diets
Yes
Yes
Perform Tympanometry Testing
Yes
Yes
Perform Limited Scope X-Rays *
Yes
No
Call in prescriptions to pharmacies
Yes
Yes
Perform Medical Transcription
Yes
No
Remove sutures and change dressings
Yes
Yes
Taking electrocardiograms
Yes
Yes
Perform Clinical billing and collections
Yes
No
* Most Medical Assisting Programs include Limited Scope X-Ray Operator Training within their Programs

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Cristen Olinger, CMA (AAMA) is a Program Coordinator in Rasmussen College's School of Allied Health. She heads the Medical Assisting Program at the Mankato, MN campus. Cristen has been a medical assistant for more than nine years—working in a high-complexity laboratory, clinical nursing unit and patient services division. Cristen's previous teaching experience includes Laboratory instruction for Medical Assisting students. Cristen received her Associate's degree from Dakota County Technical College and is completing her Bachelor's degree at Rasmussen College.

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