Medical Assistant to LPN

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nurse syringe graphicIf you are a medical assistant, the desire to become a licensed practical nurse may appeal to you.

Often this type of change is lateral as far as money and skills are concerned in your home state. The career change may add just enough variables to your resume that it enables you to have many more options in your occupation. It also may allow you to obtain a job that you find fulfilling and more enjoyable rather than one you simply tolerate. Consider a few questions before embarking on this new career.

Will my credits transfer to the LPN program?

It depends; some medical assistants have no formal training. The skills necessary to assist with administrative and clinical tasks in a healthcare office can be gained through one of the following learning paths.

  • Medical assistant programs typically offer a diploma or certificate after attending training for 9 months to a year. Credits from this type of training rarely apply to an LPN license.
  • Some medical assistants have an associate degree from a community college. If so, a few of your credits may transfer, although they are often limited to general education courses like Math and English.
  • If you are a MA with only on-the-job training or skills, this experience typically doesn’t transfer to a LPN program. Despite this fact, there are some institutions out there, so called diploma mills, that trick people into believing they could get a degree just for their “life-experience”. Be aware, there is no such thing, at least not in the US, as getting a valid degree for work experience.

career change for a medical assistantIn essence, embarking on this career change is often comparable to starting over from scratch. Although MA and LPN duties are often the same, the educational requirements are very different. MA training often includes administrative and other office duties while LPN training focuses on lab, venipuncture and actual patient care skills. If you acquired an associate’s degree many years ago, this training may have little that applies to an LPN license in today’s world. This is because technology changes so rapidly in the medical field. Old-fashioned ways to determine illness and to devise treatment plans that you learned a decade ago may be obsolete with today’s medical knowledge.

Are there any other programs I can transfer my credits to?

If healthcare options in your community and state lean toward hiring medical assistants rather than licensed practical nurse, you should consider other career options. Also, keep in mind, if you are currently employed as a MA, many employers are willing to pay for additional schooling to enable you to transfer to another job in their office.

  • Office manager, HR manager
  • Financial assistant
  • Accounting assistant
  • Medical assistant educator

Sometimes a small change in your job duties is all that is necessary to fulfill you and heighten your enjoyment when going to work each day. This may mean switching from a family doctor’s office to one that specializes in pediatrics, cardiology, neurological problems or another specialty. Changing to another type of office with new and different people is often enough to make your contentment soar.

Consider different jobs that you are qualified for in a medical practice or ones that entail only a short amount of training to master the skills. These options may include accounting or working in the business office if you enjoy working with numbers rather than people. If you are compassionate and have an understanding of insurance, medical discounts and self-pay options, think about becoming a financial counselor. During hard economic times, these positions grow rapidly. Medical assistants with excellent organizational skills who are tactful and work well with a variety of people are perfect to apply for positions like office managers, team leads or coordinators.

Another option is to teach medical assistant skills to students. Community colleges often feel that on-the-job experience is mandatory in teaching others and look for teachers with your skills and training. This is an excellent way to apply your skills and help others. It allows you to remain in the medical field without the day-to-day stresses of working with temperamental doctors or patients in a hectic and busy medical practice.

Things to consider before making a career change

If you are absolutely sure about your decision to become a LPN, here are a few tips you should follow:

  1. Research how many job openings are available. There is nothing worse than investing time and money in your education only to realize it was all for nothing. Many states generate plenty of job openings for this type of career because of the state guidelines regarding healthcare
  2. In your career as a medical assistant, you often meet doctors, registered nurses and people in human resources that you can use as references for a new job.
  3. Look in the Occupational Outlook guide in the library, a bookstore or on the government website to determine what the outlook is for this type of job.
  4. Determine how fast LPN positions are likely to increase, particularly in your region of the country. Visit an employment agency to find out if employers prefer LPN’s over MA’s in your city
  5. Call colleges or nursing schools in your area to determine the cost of the education. Inquire about books, lab fees and any other costs involved in obtaining this career goal.
  6. Ask the financial aid offices in the schools about grants or scholarships you may be eligible for when embarking on this type of program. This helps you determine how much money you will need or if any school loans are necessary.

It is vital that you find your own niche in the medical field. Since many people work their whole adult lives, it is a shame to spend that time in a job that does not provide contentment, personal satisfaction and a sense of well-being. You do not have to change careers from a medical assistant to an LPN to reap the benefits of a job that fulfills you. Sometimes using the skills you already have in a different department in the same or a similar medical office is all that is necessary to experience job satisfaction on a daily basis.