Doctors rely on several types of people to get their work done efficiently. Two of these professionals are nurse assistants and medical assistants.
While these two roles often get used interchangeably, they’re distinct positions that require different backgrounds and sets of skills. So which one should you hire for your practice?
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about nurse assistants vs medical assistants — and to find out whether a virtual medical assistant could be the best solution for your needs.
What is a nurse assistant?
A nurse assistant is usually referred to as a certified nursing assistant (CNA). These medical professionals help patients in outpatient and inpatient facilities under a nurse’s supervision.
Nurse assistants commonly work in long-term care facilities, nursing care facilities, and other residences requiring direct patient care.
Nurse assistants have several daily responsibilities. For example, they make sure patients are comfortable by:
- Turning them in their beds
- Bathing and grooming them
- Checking their vital signs
- Caring for wounds that don’t require input from nurses
In addition to these tasks, a nursing assistant can transport clients from room to room. Furthermore, they often clean rooms and change bed linens for both short- and long-term patients.
Nurse assistants can also gather and stock medical supplies to make sure each room in the facility has everything the staff might need at a moment’s notice.
Finally, nurse assistants are qualified to assist nurses and doctors with select medical procedures.
A nursing assistant doesn’t replace the need for a nurse. However, they do help reduce a nurse’s workload so that the latter can focus on their highest priorities.
What is a medical assistant?
Medical assistants work in clinics, private practices, and medical offices to support doctors. These healthcare professionals aren’t qualified to give medical advice to patients or their loved ones.
They are, however, responsible for a number of clerical tasks. For example, they can answer phone calls and greet patients as they enter the clinic.
Medical assistants may also be responsible for scheduling appointments for patients. They’ll follow up with patients for appointment reminders and reschedule or cancel appointments if the patient can’t make it.
Additionally, medical assistants can file and update medical records. When needed, they can manage insurance forms and pre-authorizations to speed up the billing process.
In some cases, they can take care of billing and bookkeeping, especially if no one else on your team has the time to do it.
A medical assistant is responsible for guiding patients to the exam room when their appointment begins. They’ll ask patients about symptoms and health concerns, then pass that information on to you.
They can also take a patient’s vital signs before you meet with them.
If a patient requires a lab test or hospital visit, your medical assistant can handle arrangements to make that happen smoothly.
Most of a medical assistant’s work is administrative, although they can still provide hands-on support for physicians when needed.
Did you know that a virtual assistant can perform the role of a medical assistant at a much lower cost? Book a call with our team to discover how a Healthcare Virtual Assistant (HVA) can support your practice.
Main differences between a nurse assistant and a medical assistant
Nurse assistants and medical assistants have some overlap in their responsibilities. However, there are several differences between the two professions.
First, certified nursing assistants receive specialized training to perform hands-on patient care. They receive a vocational school diploma after completing their program. The specifics will vary between each state.
Before they’re certified, they have to pass certification exams and meet other requirements.
Although they’re not registered nurses, they’re still qualified healthcare professionals who can administer specific care to patients.
They take on tasks delegated to them by registered nurses and licensed practical nurses. For example, they can administer medications or help patients with mobility issues. They can also perform simple patient examinations.
In contrast, medical assistants don’t receive this type of job training and don’t have the same educational requirements. They are mostly trained in administrative tasks.
Unlike nursing assistants, medical assistants aren’t qualified to give medical advice or provide basic care to patients.
Nursing assistants handle several responsibilities that influence patients’ health. For instance, they’re in charge of feeding and personal hygiene. Medical assistants, on the other hand, may take a patient’s vital signs and ask them questions, but they won’t provide the same type of personalized care as a nursing assistant would.
Finally, nursing assistants support nurses in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Medical assistants, however, only support doctors in outpatient settings.
Nurse assistant salary vs medical assistant salary
Salary and duties differs by the type healthcare professional you need to hire.
In the US, nursing assistants make an average of $14.56 per hour — a $30,290 annual salary.
On the other hand, medical assistants cost an average of $17.88 per hour or $37,190 per year. While medical assistants have less healthcare training, they’re significantly more expensive to hire because of the administrative skills they possess.
Medical assistants are also more difficult to find than nursing assistants. Because their job outlook is growing at a rate of 16% — much faster than average — you’re competing with other clinics seeking talented candidates.
Nursing assistants have a job outlook of 5%.
Nurse assistant vs medical assistant: which should you hire?
If you’re wondering which of these professionals you should hire in your private practice, there are several questions you should ask yourself.
The first step you should take is to assess who needs more support in your practice. Are you a solo practitioner without nurses or other staff? If you work with a group of doctors, are there other physicians requiring assistance?
Or, do you have nurses who need support?
Medical assistants are trained to assist physicians and doctors. However, if you have nurses on staff who struggle to support high patient-demand, a nursing assistant may be the better option.
Next, ask yourself how many administrative duties you’ll need to delegate. If you have mainly administrative work, a medical assistant is your best bet as nurse assistants don’t typically handle clerical work, not are they necessarily trained to do so.
The more of these clinical tasks you need to outsource, the more likely you are to be successful by hiring a medical assistant.
Finally, consider whether you have inpatient care or not. If you don’t, then it’s unlikely you’ll need a certified nursing assistant. If you do, your best hiring decision will depend on what type of support your nurses currently need.
Why a Healthcare Virtual Assistant is the best of both worlds
Are you unsure which professional you should hire between a nurse assistant and a medical assistant — especially if you can only afford one of the two?
Or, are you consider about the costs of hiring either?
A Healthcare Virtual Assistant could be what you need.
If you need both a nurse assistant and a medical assistant, you can hire a nursing assistant in person and bring on a Healthcare Virtual Assistant as a medical assistant at an affordable rate.
Here are the benefits of having a Healthcare Virtual Assistant for your practice:
1. Cut down on your costs
If you only need a medical assistant, you can save $8 per hour or more by hiring a virtual assistant instead.
How does this work? At Hello Rache, virtual assistants with expertise in the healthcare field cost $9.50 per hour flat.
When compared to the average hourly rate for a US-based medical assistant, you can save over $17,000 in salary expenses each year — and that’s only if your HVA works full-time.
Plus, having an hourly contractor vs a salaried employee can save on payroll and overhead.
You won’t need to provide paid vacation, sick leave, or additional benefits. That’s because Hello Rache handles all of those details for you.
But let’s say you need both a medical assistant and a nursing assistant. Because nurse assistants perform tasks that must be done in person, you can hire someone locally to perform this role.
And thankfully, nurse assistants are more affordable than medical assistants.
Once you have a nursing assistant on board, you can hire a virtual medical assistant to handle the administrative side of your practice.
You’ll have professionals in both roles without going broke, and everyone will be working on the tasks they’re best at doing. Your staff and patients will be fully supported, and your clinic will run more efficiently as a result.
2. Stay flexible
Hiring full-time, permanent employees can be challenging for clinics and private practices with fluctuating demand.
Not only does it take longer to find qualified candidates, but once you hire them, you must pay them regardless of whether you have enough revenue to do so. The only other option is to lay them off, which sets you back to the same place you began.
However, you don’t need to commit to a full-time hire with stable hours to have a medical assistant on your team.
If you have flexible needs, you can get a flexible virtual assistant. Unlike employees, virtual assistants at Hello Rache can be contracted for as few or as many hours as you’d like — even if the hours you need covered are inconsistent.
You can get more help during busy periods and ramp down when you have less work for your remote medical office assistant. Or, if you need more than one person for a short period, you can do that as well.
3. Shift your focus to revenue-generating tasks
Getting more patients is what generates more revenue. You can’t get new patients when you’re focusing too much of your attention on medical office administration tasks.
With a virtual medical assistant on your team, you can shift focus back to what you love doing (and what earns you a living) — helping your patients.
A virtual medical assistant can also help improve your work-life balance and get you more patients. For example, let’s say your assistant helps you regain ten hours each week. Not only could you spend five of those hours going home one hour earlier each day, but you may also be able to take five or more new patients per week.
And because your virtual assistant comes at a low cost, you get to keep more of those profits in your pocket.
You can finally spend more of your time doing the work you love — while working shorter days.
4. Speed up the onboarding process
Virtual assistants already have the training they need to perform well in your private practice. For example, they’re already HIPAA-compliant. They’re also trained in many administrative tasks, including transcription and receptionist duties.
Additionally, all Hello Rache Healthcare Virtual Assistants have experience in the medical field. For instance, many of them worked as registered nurses before becoming medical assistants. This means they can seamlessly integrate with your team.
Hello Rache Virtual Assistants are all located in the Philippines. For these healthcare professionals, working virtually for US-based clinics and private practices makes more sense than working locally. That’s because their local jobs often require lengthy commutes and only pay $20 or less for an entire day’s work.
That is why Hello Rache only finds, vets, and trains Healthcare Virtual Assistants from that country.
Finally, hiring your own Healthcare Virtual Assistant can happen in just a few days — unlike the traditional hiring process, which can take from a few weeks to several months.
5. Never miss a phone call
Would you like to offer unparalleled service to your patients whenever they need to contact your clinic?
Thanks to the low cost of virtual medical assistants, you can hire more than one assistant to work around the clock for your practice.
By doing so, you can support patients at all times when they have questions or want to reschedule an appointment. They won’t have to deal with frustrating automated call services when your clinic is closed.
As a result, you and the rest of your staff will have fewer voicemails to catch up on each morning and on Mondays.
Get the support you need with a virtual medical assistant
Virtual medical assistants are skilled, reliable workers who can support your practice by preventing administrative overload. You don’t need to hire someone in person if you only need help with clerical work.
Book a call with the Hello Rache team to get your own virtual medical assistant as soon as possible.