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Medical Career Academy – The Difference Between a Medical Assistant and a Health Aide

Considering medical career training but not interested in pursuing a degree in medicine? You could opt for the most in-demand jobs in the medical field, including medical assistants and home health aides (HHA). Interestingly, these two positions often get interchanged in conversation despite the fact that they have very different responsibilities.

It may be confusing because of the differing opinions out there, but this article aims to enlighten you on the real difference between a medical assistant and an HHA.

Basic Description

A home health aide is in charge of caring for sick, disabled, and elderly patients. They provide healthcare needs and daily assistance in a facility or in the patient’s residence. For the most part, a health aide is independent. More complicated cases will see aides working with nurses, though.

Their daily tasks include providing food, administering medications, addressing basic wounds and symptoms, cleaning up the patient’s environment, taking their vitals, and giving bedside care and hygiene care (such as changing, bathing, combing, etc.) daily.

Meanwhile, a medical assistant works on a wider variety of clinical tasks as part of a healthcare team. They will usually be assisting doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. Their responsibilities often cover both patient-centric and administrative work.

Medical assistants will be expected to aid doctors with numerous tasks, including basic physical exams. Other responsibilities are performing ECGs, taking patient vitals, administering medication, updating health records, sterilizing instruments, and manning workstations to answer calls and set schedules.

Usual Work Environments

An HHA, as their name indicates, will mostly be working in homes. It will involve the private residences of their patients, though many aides also work in healthcare facilities and retirement homes. Their daily routine is highly dependent on their assigned patient’s needs.

For medical assistants, their schedule will more likely follow a regular work week because of their locations. That said, they may have varied hours depending on the shifts they get. Usual workplaces will be clinics, hospitals, emergency centers, and doctor’s offices.

Educational Requirements

Health aides must complete training courses approved by the Board of Nursing. After this, they will need to pass a competency evaluation by licensed healthcare providers and facilities.

Medical assistants must have a high school diploma or a general equivalency diploma (GED) to qualify for medical career training. They also have to finish the Medical Assistant short course in order to start working.

Career Outlook

In general, the healthcare industry is expected to continue growing. As such, the demand for both roles will continue to increase. In fact, whether you aim to become a medical assistant or HHA, it’s essential to know that there has been a rapid increase and demand for them in recent years.

Medical assistant jobs are expected to have a 23 percent growth rate until 2028. Home health aides also see a projected growth of 36 percent by 2028.


Knowing the core differentiators between the two career paths should help you make a more informed decision on your job choice. Various healthcare training solutions can kickstart your way to either career. The best part is that no matter which job you opt for, you’ll be entering a competitively engaging field that enables you to help others and achieve fulfillment like no other.

What better place to get your medical career training in Indiana than the Medical Career Academy? Providing the highest quality of education and a goal to produce thriving students, we deliver hands-on experience and full support for various healthcare fields. Reach out now to start your career journey!

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