The management of certified nursing facilities relies on an essential tool known as the Minimum Data Set (MDS) to determine the functional capabilities of the residents of such facilities. These results are used by MDS coordinators, often referred to as nurse assessment coordinators, to help in the formulation and implementation of individual care plans for use by residents. The majority of MDS coordinators are licensed nurses who receive hands-on training or undergo formal off-site training courses.
Job Profile of an MDS Coordinator
MDS coordinators aim at promoting the emotional and physical well-being of residents of nursing facilities. To this end, a Resident Assessment Instrument (RAI) are used for collection of information from families of residents and the residents themselves by conducting interviews, initially as well as periodically. The patient’s nutritional requirements, cognitive ability, behavior patterns and mood are all taken into account by the MDS. Caretakers of nursing homes use information derived from the assessments in the formulation of care plans tailored to satisfy the requirements of individual residents; such plans seek supportive roles to be played by medical staff, rehab specialists, dieticians, and social services. Such care plans are implemented and monitored by MDS coordinators in ensuring their effectiveness. The coordinators strive to ensure that the strategies are consistent with ethical standards and Medicare requirements.
Education and Licensure Prerequisites
Typically, prospective MDS coordinators begin as licensed practical nurses (LPNs) or registered nurses (RNs). RN degree programs, which are undergraduate courses, take about two to four years to complete. Licensed practical nursing programs usually run for a year, and their coursework includes topics such as nursing fundamentals, pathophysiology, and pharmacology. All nurses must satisfy licensure norms relating to their state of employment.
Most states issue licenses only after registered nurses pass exams ran by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). Aspiring LPNs (NCLEX-PN) and RNs (NCLEX-RN) can take the National Council Licensure Exam administered by the NCSBN. Employers who do not provide hands-on training to entry-level nurses can utilize formal MDS coordinator training programs. One such program is offered by the American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordination (AANAC); the exam covers care planning, survey methods and assessment scheduling. Completion of this ten course program will qualify the successful candidate to accept the role of Resident Assessment Coordinator – Certified (RAC-CT).
Job and Wage Potential
Job growth for MDS coordinators in nursing homes are projected at twenty-four percent during the period from 2008 to 2018 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2011 Occupational Outlook Quarterly (www.bls.gov)). In January 2012, MDS coordinators earned average annual wages ranging between $40,908 and $75,345 (source: PayScale.com).