What is the Difference between CNA and Medication Assistant Certified (MA-C)?

There is a large difference between the scope of practice of a CNA and a Medication Assistant Certified (MA-C), but the CNA may consider adding Medication Assistant certification to his or her skills in order to be employable in a wider range of positions.

The CNA is employable in many different clinical settings, and after a period of gaining experience, may work in acute or subacute care, longterm care, or specialized care, but in order to work in assisted living homes, one will often need to be certified as a Medication Assistant as well.

The CNAs duties surround comfort, care, and communication, but preparing or administering medication is outside the scope of the CNA. In most clinical settings, medication is handled by a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN). A CNA should never handle any medication in a clinical setting, nor should they be asked to. It is a clear violation of the CNA’s scope of practice.

Because assisted living homes are often quite large, and one of the assisted tasks is ensuring the clients receive their medication at the proper time in the proper dosage, it is not always feasible for an assisted living facility to have the clients visited by an LPN or RN. Therefore a CNA who is also certified as a Medication Assistant is the most practical and economical solution for the care center.

The MA-C is licensed to prepare and administer medication, which, because the administration of such is subject to error, incurs more liability for the facility and staff. Thus it requires special training and certification. The MA-C also has a specific scope of practice, and can only prepare and administer certain types of medications, observe and report.

An MA-C is not expected to or ever given the obligation of calculating dosage, assessing the patient’s need for or reaction to the medication, nor administering parenteral medication or any medication which must be administered via a tube, such as nasogastric, gastrostomy, etc.

One can see how the certifications and scope of practice are radically different between a CNA and an MA-C, but also that they can be complimentary skills. Adding the certification as a Medication Assistant can open up non-clinical positions or possibly a clinical position within a longterm care home at a higher rate of pay.