CNA vs CMA: Difference and Comparison

The Healthcare field is an ever-growing and constantly evolving field. There is always a high demand for healthcare workers to date, and these numbers will continue to grow in the years to come.

CMA and CNA are both important parts of healthcare workers who constantly look into the welfare of their patients. Despite having many similarities, they are quite different from one another.

Key Takeaways

  1. CNAs (Certified Nursing Assistants) provide basic patient care, while CMAs (Certified Medical Assistants) perform clinical and administrative tasks.
  2. CNAs must complete a state-approved nursing assistant training program, while CMAs need to complete an assistant medical program accredited by CAAHEP or ABHES.
  3. CNAs primarily work in nursing homes, while CMAs work in various healthcare settings such as hospitals, clinics, and private practices.


CMA is a healthcare professional who works in outpatient settings, performing clinical and administrative tasks such as taking patient histories, performing basic medical procedures, scheduling appointments, and maintaining patient records. They must complete a training program and pass a certification exam to practice.


A CNA is a professional medical professional that is an important part of a hospital. The responsibilities that CNAs carry on their shoulders make them a very important part of the healthcare society.

They assist patients with their daily routine, which includes eating, drinking, bathing, etc., which means they look for the overall personal health care of a patient.

It takes between 4 weeks to 10 weeks for a CNA program to get completed along with the licensed certification.

A CMA directly works with a doctor or a nurse and is the primary responsible person for assessing patients with their allergy data, medical history, checking vitals, etc.

The CMA helps patients to prepare for the doctor and even looks after their medications as per the prescription.

Other than these duties, they also assist doctors in performing surgeries, or they can also take upon clerical responsibilities. It takes 1 to 2 years for the completion of the CMA program with the certification.

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Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonCNACMA
DefinitionCNA is a medical worker that assists patients with their daily routine. CMA works directly with the doctor in assisting the medical reports, checking vitals etc. 
Scope of practicePractice includes a patient’s daily routine. Practice includes checking medical history, allergy or any medical responsibility. 
EducationHigh school diploma +  an accredited CNA training program. High school diploma + educational training such as medical terminology, basic pharmacology, anatomy. 
Area of workNursing homes, retirement centres, living centres. Hospitals, clinics, physician offices. 
Starting SalaryLess compared to CMA. Little more than CNA. 

What is a CNA? 

A CNA or also known as a certified nursing assistant, is a medical worker who works under the guidance of a doctor. They are an integral part of the housing society.

A CNA provides care and comfort directly to the patient and assists them in daily routine tasks.

Their responsibilities include helping their patients eat and drink properly, making beds for them, helping them to bathe, and reporting to doctors if any abnormalities are seen.

CNAs are considered to be on the first or entry-level, but they hold a huge responsibility.

As trained medical workers, they are the first to contact the patients directly for nursing and to oversee their health status.

It takes between 4 weeks to 10 weeks for most of the CNA programs to get completed. The programs include enclosed classes, medical training and experiences, and giving written exams to achieve their CNA license.

The route of a CNA worker is a good alternative for people who want to kick start their medical career and build a strong, caring relationship with their patients.

This route is considered rewarding and fruitful on its own and a great option for those who want to continue and be licensed nurses.


What is a CMA? 

A CMA is a person who works to assist patients with their appointments with their doctor or any special care.

Their responsibility includes collecting and documenting a patient’s medical history, checking their vital signs, and helping the patients prepare themselves for the doctor’s appointment.

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CMAs can also provide some additional tasks of authenticating of their insurance coverage, settling the transaction, and organizing records of patients.

A CMA program takes 1 to 2 years to complete.

Their program includes classroom sessions, predefined clinical time that is needed to be completed, and a written exam for passing the Class certification exam.

This career field is growing at a rapid pace, with a hike of 29% in the years to come.

This career option has been opted for very fast as there is always an increase in the numbers and kinds of patients who need assistance from a CMA person.

A CMA person can also help a doctor in assisting them with the surgeries. CMA can also do the duties of a clerk, including refilling prescriptions, cleaning, and sanitizing the patient room.

They are also trained in additional skills of collecting samples, vaccination, changing the dressing of wounds, etc.

cma nurse

Main Differences Between CNA and CMA

  1. A CNA helps their patients with their daily activities like eating and bathing while a CMA person organizes their medical records. 
  2. CNA serves food and water and helps patients eat while CMA schedules appointments for them with doctors. 
  3. CNA monitors the vital signs of a patient on the other hand, CMA makes arrangements in the hospital. 
  4. CNA helps immobile patients turn to the bed’s other side to avoid soreness or ulcers, whereas CMA performs bookkeeping duties. 
  5. CNA oversees their patient’s health conditions and report to the doctor if any abnormalities are seen, while CMA assists the doctor during checkups. 
Difference Between CNA and CMA

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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10 thoughts on “CNA vs CMA: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The detailed descriptions of the responsibilities and qualifications for both CNAs and CMAs offer a comprehensive overview for individuals considering a career in the healthcare industry.

  2. The differences in education, scope of practice, and starting salary for CNAs and CMAs are excellently laid out, offering readers a comprehensive understanding of these roles within the healthcare sector.

  3. This article gives an insightful perspective on the contrasting responsibilities of CNAs and CMAs, aiding in the recognition of their respective contributions to healthcare.

  4. The article effectively explains the distinct roles of CNAs and CMAs, highlighting how each contributes to patient care and the healthcare environment as a whole.

    • Agreed, the descriptions of what CNAs and CMAs do and the necessary qualifications are well-delineated, offering a valuable resource for potential healthcare professionals.

  5. This article effectively highlights the key takeaways about the roles, responsibilities, and differences between CNA and CMA, providing valuable insights for those interested in the healthcare field.

  6. The differences in the education requirements and areas of work for CNAs and CMAs are clearly outlined in the comparison table, which is helpful for understanding the distinctions between the two roles.

    • I agree, the article provides a comprehensive comparison that emphasizes the unique aspects of each role within the healthcare field.

  7. The comparisons between the duties of CNAs and CMAs provide a clear understanding of the unique roles they play in the healthcare system.

  8. The demand for healthcare workers is projected to continue increasing in the future, making CMA and CNA roles crucial in addressing this demand.


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