How To Transition from a Medical Assistant to an RN

Why I chose to complete medical assistant CMA before nursing school LPN/RN ! Did my decision help?

What is a medical assistant to RN program?

One way to convert your work as a medical assistant into a nursing education is to enroll in a medical assistant to RN program. The fundamentals of patient care and healthcare are topics that certified medical assistants have already studied as part of their training to become registered nurses. Medical assistants’ prior experience is taken into account by MA to RN programs, which grant some or all of their MA certification credits toward their nursing degree.

While some schools provide structured MA to RN programs, others will accept specific credits toward a regular nursing program. Both of these choices can assist you in transitioning from your current position as a medical assistant to one as a registered nurse.

Differences between medical assistants and RNs

You should gain knowledge of the distinctions between the two roles before enrolling in a medical assistant to RN program. Although the duties of medical assistants and registered nurses are somewhat similar, they serve different roles and offer various career opportunities. You should take into account the following main differences between RNs and medical assistants:


Medical assistants and nurses are fundamentally trained in various healthcare philosophies. RNs gain knowledge from the “nursing model,” which emphasizes treating patients holistically and taking into account all aspects of their wellbeing. Typically, medical assistants practice using the “medical model,” which emphasizes diagnostics to treat particular diseases and symptoms.


Certification for medical assistants may not be required, depending on your state. If you decide to pursue certification as a medical assistant, you must enroll in a post-secondary medical assisting training program. These can last from a few months to a year. Registered nurses require a much more extensive education. They must have an associate’s degree in nursing at the very least, though some positions may call for a bachelor’s degree.


Medical assistants assist other healthcare professionals by carrying out a combination of administrative and clinical tasks. To effectively process patient data and communicate with insurers and other healthcare providers, they aid in office organization and clerical work. Before each patient arrives, medical assistants make sure the examination room is clean and organized. In accordance with a nurse’s or doctor’s instructions, they may take a patient’s vital signs, give them medication, and take blood. Some certified medical assistants may also assist during simple surgeries.


Compared to medical assistants, registered nurses have a lot more freedom and autonomy. While registered nurses frequently make independent decisions about how to best meet each patient’s care needs, medical assistants frequently take direct orders from doctors or nurses. In some states, registered nurses are permitted to carry out more complex duties like making a medical diagnosis or applying sutures. The best career choice for you may be to become a registered nurse if you’re looking for more leadership opportunities.

Work environment

Medical assistants usually work in clinics and private practices. They typically work a standard 40-hour schedule during typical clinic business hours and spend a significant amount of time in an office setting performing their administrative duties.

Registered nurses have much more variety in their work environment. They can work in long-term care facilities, clinics, hospitals, or even home care businesses, where they must visit patients in their homes. Due to the widespread demand for nursing services, they can work a variety of hours and have the chance to put in a significant amount of overtime.



Registered nurses can choose to specialize in a field of medicine that interests them while medical assistants are limited to performing basic tasks in a clinical setting. Example specialties for RNs include:

Types of medical assistant to RN programs

After working as a medical assistant for some time, there are several ways to become a registered nurse. Depending on your long-term career objectives, you can determine the kind of program that is best for you. The main options you can choose from are:


Obtaining an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) is the quickest way to become a registered nurse (RN). These courses usually take two or three years to complete and require more than 700 hours of clinical practice. At some universities and community colleges, you can finish your ADN. You may be able to significantly shorten the time it takes to complete your nursing degree depending on your MA coursework. One advantage of choosing this route is that you can quickly become an RN while maintaining the option to go on to complete a bachelor’s degree later on.


Another choice is to pursue your BSN, which can be completed in three to four years without any prerequisites. You can enroll in an accelerated MA to BSN program where you only take nursing courses if you already have a bachelor’s degree in another field. Through MA to BSN programs, you can apply your medical assistant credits toward a structured university bachelor’s degree. When applying for nursing positions after graduation, the additional education and training you receive through a BSN may give you an advantage over other candidates.

MA to LPN to RN

If you want to gain experience as a licensed practical nurse before pursuing your registered nurse certification, you can enroll in an MA to LPN program. It only takes one or two years to become an LPN without any prior experience. This means that you can become a practicing nurse very quickly when combined with your MA credits. You can enroll in an LPN to RN program after earning your LPN license and take additional clinical courses there for about a year.

How to pursue a medical assistant to RN program

There are several steps you can take if you’re ready to begin your transition from medical assistant to nurse practitioner:

1. Select a path

Decide whether you want to follow an ADN, BSN, or LPN to RN path first. Consider your long-term goals, financial resources, certification timeline, and current education when choosing the best course of action for you. Think carefully about how the program you choose could affect your job prospects and earnings since some nursing jobs require a bachelor’s degree.

2. Research programs

You should search for programs that already accept your MA education’s credit hours. For instance, if you completed your MA program at a community college, it may be simple to transfer your credits to an ADN program there. Spend time examining scholarship opportunities, examining the costs of each program you are interested in, and thinking through various financial strategies to support your continued education.

3. Prepare your application

You may have an advantage as a medical assistant when applying to nursing programs because you have prior experience working as a healthcare provider. In your application, emphasize your experience as a medical assistant by listing it on your resume. In your cover letter, describe how being an MA affects your desire to become a nurse. To verify your abilities and strengthen your application, you can obtain recommendation letters from your medical and nursing colleagues.

4. Test out of credits

You may be able to test out of some courses and clinical requirements based on your experience as a medical assistant in addition to transferring credits to your nursing program. To shorten the time it takes you to complete your nursing degree, discuss with an academic advisor which nursing prerequisites you can test out of.

6. Earn your license

You’ll take the NCLEX-RN exam in your state after completing your program to become a registered nurse. Paying a registration fee and sitting for a drawn-out, six-hour exam that covers a variety of nursing competencies are required. Your knowledge of best practices will be put to the test through hypothetical scenarios, questions about healthcare practices, and technical inquiries about medical conditions and treatments. You will become an RN after passing the NCLEX-RN exam, at which point you can begin applying for jobs at hospitals and clinics.


What is the next step after Ma?

By obtaining an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing and passing the NCLEX-RN, medical assistants can progress to RN status. Medical assistants frequently receive credit for prior education and work in the healthcare industry, hastening the transition to a new career.

Can a medical assistant identify as a nurse?

Absolutely not. State laws only allow people who are licensed as RNs or LPNs to use the title “nurse,” even when it is used in a generic sense. If a medical assistant refers to themselves as a “nurse,” “office nurse,” “the doctor’s nurse,” or any other variation of the title “nurse,” they may be held legally and ethically accountable. ”.

What is the most money a medical assistant can make?

Medical Assistants made a median salary of $35,850 in 2020. In that year, the top 25 percent earned $41,280, while the bottom 25 percent earned $30,360.

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