What's the Job Description of an MDS Nurse?

An MDS nurse is responsible for collecting and submitting assessment data for nursing home patients. If you're a registered nurse or you're planning on becoming one, and would like to expand or specialize in a growing area, read on to learn about the job description, education requirements and salary of an MDS nurse. Schools offering Nursing Administration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

An MDS Nurse Defined

An MDS (Minimum Data Set) nurse, or nurse assessment coordinator, collects and assesses information for the health and well-being of residents in Medicare- or Medicaid-certified nursing homes. Following federally-mandated procedures and using the MDS process, the nurse monitors residents' health and well-being from the time of admission through the end of their stay.

This work also requires the planning, documentation and submission of the compiled information. It calls for creative problem solving and attentive communication with staff, residents and their families, to ensure that personal, health and administrative concerns are being addressed. Most MDS nurses work in nursing homes, but some are employed in other Medicare- or Medicaid-certified facilities.

Important Facts about This Occupational Field

Median Salary (2014) $95,350 (for nurse practitioners)
Required Education Associate's degree (for RNs)
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 34% (for nurse practitioners)
Key Skills Emotional stability, speaking, physical stamina, detail oriented, critical thinking, compassion, organizational (for RNs)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education and Licensure Requirements

An MDS nurse must be either a registered nurse (RN), or licensed practical nurse (LPN), and most employers require some experience in a health care facility, preferably a nursing home.

Academic Options

Successful completion of one of the following is required:

  • Associate's degree in nursing
  • Bachelor of Science degree in nursing
  • Master's degree in nursing
  • Hospital administered program in nursing

Certification and Licensure

  • Nursing accreditation by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC)
  • RN licensing by the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX RN)
  • MDS certification by the American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordinators (AANAC)

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), expects a faster than average employment growth of 19% from 2012 to 2022 for registered nurses. The BLS reports that RNs earned a median annual wage of $66,640 in May 2014.

While the BLS doesn't collect data on MDS nurses or nurse assessment coordinators, it does report that industry sources indicate a growing need for them and cite the increase in the aging population as one of the reasons.

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