Medical Assistant vs. Nursing Assistant: Who Has More Authority?

When comparing medical assistants with nursing assistants, a medical assistant has more authority. This is because of the fact that the medical assistant answers to the doctor and the nursing assistant answers to the nurse. In reality, these two ranks tend to work at the same level in the hierarchy, but with slight differences. 

What’s the Difference?   

A medical assistant works under the authority of a doctor. They’re involved in both administrative and clinical functions. They handle clerical tasks for physicians, perform basic laboratory tests, and assist doctors during exams.   

Medical assistants wear many hats and their job details vary from place to place. They can administer injections or medications as directed by the physician. They also compile charts and keep health records.   

A nursing assistant, on the other hand, works under the authority of a nurse. Nursing assistants provide patients with basic care. This includes daily activities that a patient may have trouble with on their own.   

Nursing assistants have the most direct contact with patients. They assist patients with meals, dressing, and using the bathroom. Nursing assistants help patients feel comfortable and assured.   

Salary Comparison 

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a Certified Medical Assistant is $34,800 per year. In comparison, the average salary for a Certified Nursing Assistant is $29,660 per year.   

Career Branches 

Medical assistants and nursing assistants both have a variety of specializations to choose from.   

For instance, a medical assistant may choose to go into cardiology to provide EKGs and other stress tests. Others specialize in oncology, focusing on cancer patients. 

As for a nursing assistant, you could specialize as a geriatric aide. This path allows you to work in an elderly home or similar environment. Another example would be a home care aide, where  you visit one patient at a time. 


While the Medical Assistant technically outranks the Nursing Assistant, there are few specific instances where they would act on that authority. Otherwise, these two generally work in tandem under different umbrellas. 
If you’re looking for employment as a CMA or a CNA, at CynaMed, we have plenty of jobs to choose from. Take a look, and see what speaks to you.

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