Elements of a Clinical Career as an MDS Coordinator, or RNAC
An MDS coordinator, or Registered Nurse Assessment Coordinator (RNAC), is responsible for assessing the behavior, moods, and needs of nursing home residents, which allows for the provision of customized support and care. An MDS RNAC, as the name implies, must be a Registered and licensed Nurse and they must undergo on-the-job and formal training. MDS coordinators are sometimes known as nursing assessment coordinators, and they use the MDS (minimum data set) to assess residents’ functional capabilities. The sections below will attempt to answer the question, “What is an MDS RNAC?”
The MDS Coordinator’s Job Description
An MDS coordinator’s objective is to promote the emotional and physical well-being of residents. They use RAIs, or resident assessment instruments, to gather information from facility residents and families during periodic interviews. The coordinator focuses on areas such as patient behavioral patterns, moods, cognitive abilities, and nutritional needs. Data gathered from periodic assessments helps caretakers assemble care plans including support from medical staff, dietitians, and rehabilitation specialists. The MDS coordinator implements these plans and monitors them for effectiveness while assuring compliance with ethical standards and Medicare requirements and Quality Initiatives.
Licensing and Educational Requirements
An MDS coordinator must complete a Registered Nurse (RN) or LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) program and receive on-the-job training, or they must complete a formal training program. Most coordinators start as LPNs or RNs, and RN programs can last up to four years at an undergrad level. LPN programs are typically a year, and coursework covers pathophysiology, pharmacology, and the fundamentals of nursing.
All nurses must be state licensed, and these licenses require nurses to pass exams administered by the NCBSN (National Council of State Boards of Nursing). The NCBSN has a licensure exam for potential RNs and LPNs. Training programs for MDS coordinators are available if the training is not provided on-the-job. In addition the AANAC has a variety of resources for Nurses looking to pursue their RAC-CT Certification.
Job and Salary Outlook
Through the year 2024, the MDS coordination field is expected to grow by about 16% for LPNs, RNs, and vocational nurses. The annual MDS RNAC Salary is an average of $61,497 per year with increases up to almost $88,000 yearly depending on the coordinator’s experience. It can be difficult to fill an MDS coordinator’s position, and numerous factors must be considered during hiring. Choosing the wrong applicant can cause significant financial losses and a higher risk of an audit, and mistakes can take years to remedy. When the steps below are followed, the hiring process is much easier. An MDS Coordinator who works a contract or travel assignment with 360 Healthcare Staffing receives a rich benefits package. Interested Nurses should contact a recruiter for more information about the salary and benefits opportunities for an MDS / RNAC who works for 360 Healthcare Staffing.
Ask the Right Questions
When candidates are interviewed for an MDS coordinator position, they face questions that ensure knowledge of financial implications and RUG (Resource Utilization Group) categories. The right candidate will understand the financial ramifications of Medicaid and PPS (Prospective Payment System), and they should have a solid understanding of all factors and variables that affect the RUGs and reimbursement. Minor PPS rule oversights, such as an incorrect ARD selection date, can cost a nursing facility thousands in losses for services already rendered.
Find a Candidate With a Meticulous Nature
An MDS coordinator should be very detail oriented. The typical MDS consists of over 1000 elements, and over 100 of those depict just one of 53 different RUG categories. Even the most reliable MDS coordinator may miss a financial opportunity. If a new hire is not constantly monitoring his or her caseload and lacks organizational skills, the facility will see a drop in rates and it will be at a greater risk of future reimbursement denials. This can have significant negative ramifications on the Long Term Care facility where they are assigned / working a contract position for.
Choose a Coordinator who Stays Current
A future MDS coordinator should strive to stay current with constantly changing CMS regulations and rules. The coordinator’s job is a hard one, and rules are always changing. The situation becomes more complicated with the arrival of new RUGs and MDS. If a candidate is currently under review, they should take a proactive stance in preparing for such changes. Skilled Nursing Home and Long Term Care facilities should take steps to prepare for new MDS and RUG implementation, and coordinators can work with Directors of Nursing (DON) to implement changes.
A Strong Work Ethic
Work ethic is a critical characteristic of an MDS coordinator. These professionals must monitor residents’ needs, and they must also observe staff members to ensure accurate reimbursement and compliance with rules and regulations. Coordinators should work to stay on top of rule changes and train employees on new systems and rules.
An MDS coordinator should go out of his or her way to communicate with staff members about residents, and staff should understand the intricacies of Medicare entitlement to ensure proper patient care. Coordinators should ensure staff is coding correctly, and they should work with the nursing and rehab teams to properly manage each resident’s case. These steps may seem tedious, but they are vital to ensure the staff provides the right documentation and coding so the facility can receive the correct reimbursement.
Candidates Should Work Well With Others
Finally, the MDS coordinator should work well as part of a team. The right candidate has a personality that meshes well with that of the remainder of the staff. Other team members should participate in the hiring process to ensure any new hire is a good fit for the home and its corporate culture. Taking time during the selection process keeps nursing facilities from having to go through the hassle and expense of repeatedly hiring new MDS coordinators, and it can increase staff retention rates in other areas.
Are You Interested in a Job Opportunity as an MDS RNAC?
While jobs for MDS RNACs are out there, it can be difficult for a candidate to get into such a position as many skilled nursing homes lack the resources to find these highly qualified professionals on their own. However, if they meet the criteria listed here and have the requisite education and training, they may find themselves in a new career with a great potential for growth.
Prospective candidates should definitely speak with a recruiter at 360 Healthcare Staffing to learn about the benefits of working as an interim RNAC / MDS Coordinator with facilities all throughout the US. 360 Healthcare Staffing is connected with respected facilities nationwide and has access to jobs for RNAC / MDS Coordinators that are not yet posted.