Online Certification for Minimum Data Set (MDS) Coordinators
Minimum Data Sets (MDS) are rules mandated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) affecting a range of federally funded health and mental health services. For example, HHS mandates comprehensive reporting on functional capabilities of residents of Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing homes. MDS assessment is an important part of this process, which involves Resident Assessment Protocols. Assessments are normally performed by Registered Nurses (RNs).
Certification Opportunities Available to MDS Coordinators
Nurses performing assessments send data to their state; the data is then pulled from state databases into a national database. MDS rules are periodically revised, so ongoing training on current assessment and coding processes is essential. Certification opportunities are available to RNs through their professional associations working in conjunction with the nursing facility industry, such as the American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordinators and the HHS, as well as through formal education.
The American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordinators (AANAC) is a professional organization promoting long-term care education in nursing. AANAC offers multiple MDS-related online courses that also qualify for continuing education units.
AANAC-member nurses may take individual courses, or earn Resident Assessment Coordinator - Certified (RAC-CT) or Certified Nurse Executive certification by taking ten courses. Coursework might include MDS coding, Medicare Part A, care area assessments, timing and scheduling, quality rating systems, and others (www.aanac.org).
Multiple AANAC industry partners provide three-day MDS workshops based on organization curricula. These are sited at various locations across the country, but are not online. Related industry organizations, like the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP), provide links to MDS materials (www.ascp.org).
Additionally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides MDS 3.0 training materials online. These include manuals, videos, instructor guides, training slides and satellite broadcasts (www.cms.gov). Technical information and conference information is also provided.
MDS Education Opportunities
Medical programs in universities are active in research and commentary on rules related to MDS. RNs seeking advanced training through bachelor's or master's degree programs in nursing would be familiarized with MDS concepts.
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