MDS Nurse: Job Description and Education Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an MDS (Minimum Data Set) nurse. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

An MDS (Minimum Data Set) nurse is typically a registered nurse (RN) who conducts federally mandated assessments of the patients at a long-term health care facility. MDS nurses are responsible for collecting integral data and compiling it into a thorough report for further research at their facility. An associate's or a bachelor's degree from an accredited nursing college is typically required for this position.

Required Education Associate's or bachelor's degree from nursing school
Other Requirements Must pass licensure exam and complete MDS certification program
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)*19% for all registered nurses
Median Salary (2013)*$66,220 for all registered nurses

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description of an MDS Nurse

MDS nurses gather information on the facility's current patients for future assessment, including physical and mental states. They assess charts and communicate with health care teams to create applicable health care plans for their current and incoming residents. MDS nurses coordinate the shipment of their facility's services to its residing residents. They also observe and document the pricing and effectiveness of these services.

The MDS nurse must conduct new resident assessments, such as the Rapid Assessment Process (RAPS), to help stabilize and improve the practices of their health care facility. They also provide OBRA (Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1987) assessments to ensure that the facility complies with Medicaid or Medicare standards. An MDS nurse may be required act as the main communicator between the insurance professionals and management officials at their facility.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated a median annual salary of $66,220 for registered nurses, including MDS nurses, in its 2013 reporting. The registered nursing field was expected to see a 19% rise in employment from 2012-2022, according to the BLS.

Educational Requirements for an MDS Nurse

MDS nurses are typically registered nurses (RNs) working within a long-term care facility, nursing home or hospital; however, licensed nurse practitioners or licensed vocational nurses may also be MDS nurses. In order to become an RN, prospective nurses must complete an associate's or a bachelor's degree program in nursing accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, Inc. Within the program, prospective MDS nurses are trained in medical terminology, anatomy, health assessment, pharmacology and clinical skills.

Nurses must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX RN) to become licensed within their state. The NCLEX-RN exam is offered through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, an organization that ensures the standards and practices for nursing in any jurisdiction. The examination tests future MDS nurses on topics such as safe and effective care environment, health promotion and maintenance.

Certification programs for MDS nurses are available through the American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordinators (AANAC). The AANAC offers credentials such as Resident Assessment Coordinator - Certified and Certified Nurse Executive. In order to become certified, MDS nurses must complete a series of online courses.

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