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Difference Between a CMA and an LPN


Degrees in the field of medicine hold a promising future for the career. Degrees for an LPN, or Licensed Practical Nurse, and CMA, or Certified Medical Assistant, are now a trend. Which of the two do you think is better and what differences do both have?

When one desires to become a Medical Assistant (MA), he will likely enjoy better working hours. Usually the work schedule is placed in the daytime since the work involves staying in a doctor’s office or that sort of setting. Medical Assistants can practice in various medical specializations, and they are likely to find some interesting work in their field. Doctor’s offices tend to make use of these medical personnel more since they are paid less compared to Licensed Vocational Nurses or Registered Nurses. This is because MAs do not have licenses; instead, they work for the doctor and depend on his license, and that makes the doctor accountable for any legal actions. If you decide to become a Medical Assistant, you need to have people skills since you will be greeting patients and placing them in their respective rooms.  You will also be in charge of recording the patient’s vital signs and preparing them for their exams. Sometimes you may also need to assist the doctors in performing certain procedures.

In some states, MAs earn more than Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) without entailing too much work. In addition, though it’s not a well-known fact, MAs are considered higher-ranking compared to CNAs. If you attain the certification for Clinical Certified Medical Assistant (CCMA), then you will be of higher value in the medical field, and this can be a plus for future employment in some states.

Meanwhile, Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) work in a more specialized field, and they are usually placed in long-term care settings, hospitals, prisons, camps, and in offices of specializing doctors. This may not always be the case, but these are typically the settings which LPNs are exposed to. In some medical offices, MAs and LPNs may share similar tasks, but LPNs can engage in in-depth patient procedures since they possess a license.

The amount of time to complete an LPN training is the same with MA training, but it depends whether the MA program is a two-year program or simply a diploma program. LPN training includes more procedures compared to MA programs, and LPN training will tackle deeper issues in some areas. Be aware, though, that MA programs require more time to cover classes on medical insurance billing, and the program bears more weight on laboratory procedures compared to an LPN. The salary may be comparable, but it depends on the area of your residence. Both programs require participants to pass the examinations after graduation.

The main difference between these two programs is that the nurses’ courses are focused on a hospital care setting, whereas MA courses are concentrated on ambulatory care. There are different opinions as to which program is better. Nevertheless, it is important to choose a reputable and accredited school when planning to participate in such programs.


1. CMA and LPN programs are both medical field programs that require participants to pass an exam.
2. Medical Assistants, or MAs, are more flexible in their working hours compared to Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs).
3. MAs can work on a variety of medical specializations while LPNs are more focused on long-term care such as in a hospital setting.
4. MAs do not have licenses like LPNs. As a result, they cannot participate in deeper areas of  certain medical procedures.
5. MAs work for doctors using their licenses, which also mean that the doctors will be held responsible for any legal actions faced by the MAs.
6. MAs and LPNs have more or less the same salary, but everything depends on the area where you are practicing.

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1 Comment

  1. While this article has some good information I feel that you need to do more research. In some states such as WA stated MA’s are Licensed. I am a Medical Assistant and I have my own license. We are no longer required to have a provider as a “co-signer” on our licenses, thus every time we change jobs we do not have to get a new license. Just FYI

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