Medical Assistant to Registered Nurse (RN) path

Medical assistants (MAs) are the backbone of many a doctor’s office, where they provide administrative and clinical support.

These unlicensed health care workers must work under the supervision of a licensed nurse or doctor. Some MAs choose to go on to become RNs.

The laws governing medical assistant education vary from state to state. In many, an MA can be trained on the job, and may not even have a high school diploma or GED. Medical Assistants who are trained in formal programs may hold a certificate or may have attended an associate degree program. These differences greatly affect what the MA must do to become an RN.



Aspiring students have three options to become an RN.

First is the associate degree in nursing (ADN), a two-year program offered by a community college or university. In some states, technical-vocational schools also offer ADN programs.

The second option is a nursing diploma. These hospital-affiliated programs are much less common; they take two or three years. Some diploma programs are affiliated with a college or university and the student actually graduates with an ADN.

The final choice is a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) — a four-year program. ADN programs are typically the least expensive and BSN programs cost the most, but tuition and other expenses vary by program.

The first requirement to enter any nursing program is a high school diploma or GED.

An MA who holds an associate degree has an advantage, in that she can get credit for many of the classes already completed.

She may only need to take the RN-level clinical courses to graduate with an ADN.

If she chooses a diploma program, whether she can get credit will depend on the program.

An MA who holds a certificate will generally have to start over as if she had no education at all.

However, an MA does have an advantage over students who have no previous education or experience, such as basic hands-on skills and knowledge of pharmacology and medical terminology.

While she may not get credit, it does allow her to concentrate on more complex topics.

The first requirement to enter any nursing program is a high school diploma or GED

While any of the three programs will meet the requirements to take the NCLEX-RN licensing examination, completing a BSN is the best choice if possible.

A BSN also offers more job potential

Many employers prefer or require BSN-prepared nurses, especially in hospitals, where the majority of RNs work.

A BSN also offers more job potential, as it is the minimum requirement for management positions, nursing education and other specialized nursing jobs.

However, an associate degree or nursing diploma does meet the licensing requirements and will be less expensive and time-consuming, and it is possible to go on for a BSN after obtaining an ADN.



Written by 3rd independent party

2016-25448  10/17