Degrees for Aspiring Medical and Nursing Assistants

To obtain a nursing assistant job, a CNA most often needs to have at least a high school diploma, or GED, and at least some form of post-secondary nursing instruction. This can be obtained from a variety of institutions, including online schools, community colleges, trade schools, and so on. From there, it is a simple matter of taking, and passing, a CNA Exam.

Our guides help outline potential career paths for nursing and medical assistants as well as answering important questions like:

Featured CNA Programs

Purdue University

Accreditation: HLC, NCA


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Kaplan University

Accreditation: HLC, NCA


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South University

Accreditation: SACS


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Miller-Motte College

Accreditation: ACICS


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Seacoast Career School

Accreditation: ACCET


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Do I need a degree in order to become a nursing assistant?

While a degree in healthcare can help you stand out during the hiring process as well as ready you for various roles in the healthcare field, it is usually not required in order to become a CNA. CNA programs will cover an education in basic patient care and require students to complete a clinical externship as well as pass a state examination.

If you are considering a degree, there are a few paths you can choose from. An associate degree in medical assisting or administration degree can help prepare you for working as a nursing assistant while opening up various other roles in healthcare as well. However, an associate degree in nursing can also help prepare you for a CNA position while providing a stepping stone should you decide to further your career later. Keep in mind, with either degree you will still need to obtain your nursing assistant certification in order to work as a CNA.

What is the difference between a nursing assistant and a medical assistant?

While the two positions have some overlap in duties, they can vary greatly depending on the setting. Medical assistants usually complete a degree or accredited MA program and work in clinics and medical offices, carrying out administrative tasks and basic patient care. Nursing assistants are licensed positions that can work at hospitals, physician offices, and medical facilities. CNAs help deliver bedside care and treatment in addition to carrying out administrative work.

What types of degrees can medical and nursing assistants obtain?

While becoming a nursing assistant requires you to pass the CNA exam, several degrees within the healthcare field can help prepare you for its tasks and responsibilities. Many programs are offered online with only on-site residency required. Medical assistants have a broader range of degrees to choose from. However, you should consult your state’s nursing association for full credential requirements.

The following degrees can help prepare students for various positions in healthcare as they work towards passing the CNA exam.

Health & Human Services

Health and human services degrees prepare students to work alongside psychologists, social workers, doctors, and nurses to address issues facing community health, like obesity, mental health, and disease.

Health Information Technology

Health information technology degrees train students to manage computer systems and patient data as well as identify and correct potential issues related to the storage, organization, and communication of healthcare delivery and information.

Healthcare Administration

Health administration programs prepare students for many outside the scope of healthcare delivery, including budgetary concerns, human resources, management, and day-to-day operations.

Medical Assisting

Medical assisting degrees ready students to carry out administrative and basic clinical duties that can include maintaining medical records, basic patient exams, and administrating medication.

Medical Billing & Coding

Medical billing and coding programs train students to correctly identify, categorize, and submit claims for treatments to insurance companies in order to receive payment for healthcare services.

Medical Office Administration

Medical office administration degrees are designed to prepare students for a number of administrative and support tasks but do not assist in direct patient healthcare delivery.

Medical Records

Medical records degrees train students to handle, organize, document, and retrieve patient data, including their full medical history, visits, and insurance information.

Medical Transcription

Medical transcription degrees help train students to document and file notes taken by nurses and doctors during patient appointments.

Nursing Bridge Programs

Nurses fulfill a variety of important roles within healthcare industry, working as aides to doctor or other nurses, primary healthcare providers, and even as practitioners.

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