Medical Technician vs. Registered Nurse: The Differences

Have you ever suffered an untoward incident due to medical technicians’ or registered nurses’ negligence? If their actions fail to meet acceptable care standards, you could be owed compensation, causing severe physical and emotional harm to your family.

It’s easy for patients to be confused about the differences between them. There are unique distinctions in the required training, patient care, and responsibilities for nurses and medical technicians, so it is vital to understand. Still, it’s hard for laypeople to understand precisely what sets these two roles apart. 

Therefore, here are three differences between a medical technician and a registered nurse that will help you understand their unique roles even better.

Distinctions in Training Requirements

  • Nurses: A licensed practical nurse (LPN) must complete a certificate program or an associate’s degree through a program recognized by Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). 

On the other hand, a registered nurse (RN) must have an associate’s degree, although employers prefer a bachelor’s degree. To become an RN, aspiring candidates must pass the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed practitioners. Some RNs may also earn board certification to specialize in specific practice areas. 

For instance, a nurse practitioner (NP) is an RN with further education and training. NPs must earn a master’s degree in nursing or maintain certification as NPs. In addition to teaching, licensing, and certificates, nurses may complete clinical training, giving them valuable experience in the field.

  • Medical technicians: Medical technicians or assistants (MAs)require far less on-the-job training than nurses. This might include a two-year college degree or a nine-month job training program for MAs; many are trained on the job. Courses typically involve some basic medical training as well as administrative skills. 

How much training is required to be a medical technician? Associate degrees and certification courses are available online and at traditional schools. Can a medical technician transfer to nursing? It depends on the MA’s level of education; associate degrees might enable them to transfer, but lower certifications likely won’t qualify.

Distinctions in Patient Care

Medical technicians and nurses can provide primary patient care. Both may help patients with daily tasks like feeding, changing bandages, or keeping the environment clean by disposing of trash or disinfecting surfaces. Medical technicians can only provide care when directed to a physician, while nurses have the training to create a comprehensive patient plan.

Distinctions in Duties and Responsibilities

A medical technician performs essential patient services and administers only medications prescribed by a caregiver. They might help with referrals, billing, and scheduling appointments. They might also retrieve and sterilize instruments, prepare equipment, and empty bedpans.

On the other hand, a licensed registered nurse performs a broader range of tasks. Working under their license, they can perform duties like examining patients, planning care, and early detection of disease. They might administer essential medications like aspirin or over-the-counter drugs. 

Registered nurses can administer advanced medications, such as chemotherapy for cancer patients, working with a doctor or a physician’s assistant. They might also supervise other medical assistants, such as nursing aides, who help with basic chores in regulated nursing homes.


In summary, medical technicians split their tasks between administrative and patient care. They are only allowed to give primary medical care since their specialty includes proper documentation. On the other hand, registered nurses focus on basic and advanced patient care, attending to their health needs with or without a doctor to ensure a patient’s health is in order. Knowing these differences is crucial to getting the proper healthcare you or your loved one needs when the time comes, so remember these three distinct functions between a medical technician and a registered nurse!

Become a licensed nurse or a legitimate medical technician by enrolling at Northwest Suburban College! As a health sciences college in Schaumburg, Illinois, we provide healthcare career training for those interested in the medical industry. Call us today at 847-242-2515 for more information about our programs!

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