Differences Between Medical Assistants and Licensed Practical Nurses
Jan 31, 2019
Do you ever wish there was a little more obvious way to distinguish America's health care professionals from one another? Before the days of coordinated scrubs in neon colors and festive patterns, nurses wore all white, noted Lenora Bodway, RN, RDMS, MSN/Ed., Director of Nursing Education at our Concorde Jacksonville, Fla. campus. One example of this is distinguishing between medical assistants (MA) and licensed practical nurses (LPN).
Why the confusion?"There are several reasons the general public confuse MAs and LPNs," said Bodway. "One of the biggest reasons is because many of their job duties overlap." "Both professionals function under the direct supervision of either a Physician and/or a Registered Nurse."
Main differences between a medical assistant and licensed practical nurseBodway and colleague Christy Garcia, RMA, Medical Assistant and Medical Office Administration Program Director at Concorde Grand Prairie, Texas, point out a few of the tasks that separate MAs and LPNs. While this list is no means exhaustive:
- LPNs can administer meds through an IV (if they are certified). A Medical Office Assistant must administer through an injection ordered by a doctor.
- Medical Assistants are trained to draw blood, while LPNs administer medication, provide wound care, change dressings, perform catheterizations and collaborate with the health care team to develop a plan of care.
- Medical Assistants are trained thoroughly in front-office procedures such as recording medical histories, vital statistics and test results in medical records. LPNs are not.
- MAs interview patients to obtain their medical history versus an LPN, who responds to patient calls and assisting with daily life activities.