There are many great reasons to start a career in healthcare. There is a wide variety of available careers, and the healthcare industry is continuing to grow quickly. If you work in healthcare, you also have the chance to make a real difference in people’s lives by helping and caring for patients.
With so many different paths available to starting a career in the medical field, it can be overwhelming and confusing to figure it out by yourself. So we’re here to help by breaking down the differences in two entry-level healthcare positions, certified nursing assistant and medical office specialist.
Medical office specialists have a promising career outlook. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, medical office specialists, or medical assistants, have a projected growth rate of 19% for 2019-2029 in the United States, which is much higher than the 4% average growth rate for all jobs. This means that employers will be hiring more and more medical office specialists in the years to come and will need qualified candidates to fill the positions.
The BLS estimates that positions for certified nursing assistants will grow 8% in the US between 2019-2029. Although this is higher than the average growth rate of 4% for all occupations, it’s not as high as the expected growth for medical office specialists or medical assistants.
Medical office specialists perform a variety of both administrative and clinical duties while on the job. They assess patients and help doctors with patient care and treatment. Some of the skills medical office specialists must learn are helping with exams, administering injections, taking vital signs, preparing lab tests, and entering patient information.
At Boardman Training Center, our medical office specialist students get to practice hands-on skills in classrooms and labs, preparing them for success while on the job.
Certified nursing assistants are more focused on helping with daily living activities and direct patient care. Common skills that CNAs must perform while on the job are bathing and cleaning patients, moving them between wheelchairs and beds, helping patients use the bathroom and get dressed, feeding them, and changing linens.
To begin a career as a medical office specialist, specialized training is required to provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills. Most medical office specialist or medical assisting programs are completed in under two years, combining classroom instruction and hands-on training. In addition, it’s helpful to choose a medical office specialist program that prepares you for professional healthcare certifications, as many employers prefer certified candidates.
For example, in our Medical Office Specialist program here at BTC, you learn vital knowledge and practice hands-on skills in essential areas while preparing for professional certifications like Certified Medical Administrative Assistant*, Certified Billing and Coding Specialist*, and Certified Electronic Health Records Specialist*.
Specialized training is also necessary to become a certified nursing assistant, and this training is typically completed in under six months. CNAs will learn and practice different areas, including direct patient care, documentation, and patient safety. The CNA class has to be approved by the state, and a competency exam must be passed upon completion of the program. Additionally, clinical hours are required to become certified, and the number of hours varies by state.
According to BLS data, medical office specialists, or medical assistants, most commonly work in physician’s offices, with 57% working there in 2019. Another 15% work in hospitals, and the remainder work in outpatient care centers and at chiropractor’s offices. Most of these professionals work full-time, 40-hour workweeks, and some may work evenings, weekends, and holidays if they work in a healthcare facility that is always open, like a hospital.
Certified nursing assistants work more in nursing care facilities, with 37% employed there, and hospitals, with 27% employed there, according to data from the BLS. The rest of the employed nursing assistants work in assisted living and retirement facilities, home healthcare services, and government. Certified nursing assistants are required to be on their feet a lot when they work and are expected to lift over 50 pounds, which makes the job more strenuous and physically demanding. Most CNAs are employed full-time, but some work part-time as well. As a result, they may be expected to work more on nights, weekends, and holidays and for longer hours at a time.
You’re now informed of the differences between medical office specialists and certified nursing assistants. If you think a career as a medical office specialist is the right choice for you, BTC may be perfect for you! Explore our Medical Office Specialist program and request information now to get started!
*Certification is contingent upon passing the corresponding industry certification exam.