IBMC Articles

What’s the difference between a Medical Assistant and an LPN?

The healthcare industry is an excellent place to find a rewarding, stable career in Colorado. With an exciting work environment, competitive pay and plenty of opportunities for career advancement, there are a lot of reasons to consider a healthcare profession. According to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare is expected to grow at a rate of 18 percent through 2024—much faster than average.

Still, it’s not always clear what your career options are. And, it can be difficult to tell the difference between the various roles of healthcare professionals. It’s important to know the details before you get started.

The difference between a Medical Assistant and a Licensed Practical Nurse

LPN Daily Tasks

LPNs (Licensed Practical Nurses) usually tend to the physical care of patients—performing tasks like administering medicine, helping with personal hygiene and checking vital signs. They handle duties that are more complex than what Medical Assistants might do, but less complex than the duties of a registered nurse.

Medical Assistant Daily Tasks

Often, Medical Assistants are subdivided into two categories: Clinical Medical Assistants and Administrative Medical Assistants. Administrative Medical Assistants are more likely to make appointments, answer phones and maintain patient records than to assist in examinations.

Clinical Medical Assistants work under the direction of a doctor, assisting with tasks like taking patient’s vital signs, helping with exams, and preparing samples for laboratory tests. Depending on where you choose to work, job duties vary. Overall, your main job will be to ensure doctor visits run smoothly and comfortably for the patient and the physician.

Medical Assistant Job Description

Administrative Medical Assistant Duties

  • Using computer applications
  • Answering telephones
  • Greeting patients
  • Updating and filing patient medical records
  • Coding and filling out insurance forms
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Arranging for hospital admissions and laboratory services
  • Handling correspondence, billing, and bookkeeping

Clinical Medical Assistant Duties

  • Taking medical histories
  • Explaining treatment procedures to patients
  • Preparing patients for examination
  • Assisting the physician during exams
  • Collecting and preparing laboratory specimens
  • Performing basic laboratory tests
  • Instructing patients about medication and special diets
  • Preparing and administering medications as directed by a physician
  • Transmitting prescription refills as directed
  • Drawing blood
  • Taking electrocardiograms
  • Removing sutures and changing dressings

Licensed Practical Nurse Job Description

  • Maintain patients’ history records
  • Provide bathing and dressing assistance
  • Update the doctors about the status of the patient
  • Measure the vital signs of a patient
  • Assist doctors and registered nurses with various procedures and tests
  • Care for and feed infants
  • Clean, assemble and use medical equipment
  • Monitor a patience response and medication
  • Administer and monitor the amount and frequency of medication
  • Supervise nursing assistants

How to become an LPN

Programs to become an LPN typically take about a year to complete and can be found at community colleges and technical schools. After completing your program, you’ll be required to take and pass a state-approved examination to work as an LPN.

With such rapid growth in the healthcare field, hospitals, clinics and other facilities are always looking to hire more qualified medical professionals.

How to become a Medical Assistant

Getting started as a Medical Assistant is as easy as finding a career training program at a vocational college and enrolling.

Program length varies by state mandate and by the college you attend, but at IBMC College in northern Colorado, you can finish your diploma in as little as 10 months. With start dates every five weeks, you can begin your training soon.

Some colleges, including IBMC College, even offer career placement assistance after graduation. That means you’ll have help with resumes, interviews and more. It can make the job hunt a lot easier.

Visit our Medical Assistant program page to learn more about short-term Medical Assisting training at our campuses in Fort Collins, Greeley and Longmont, Colorado.