A Career in MDS

Interested in a career involving the MDS? You should be. The MDS is a powerful tool used to drive better resident care and improve outcomes. You can be the driver of this tool by becoming a nurse assessment coordinator (NAC) or MDS professional. Not only is nurse assessment coordination a career that will be fulfilling and clinically challenging but will also provide you with more consistent hours and a job off the floor 24/7. 

Where to Start

Obtaining a Career as a NAC

A career in MDS can start from any direction. If you're currently in an entry level position in a clinical setting, you can work up to a position within a clinical, quality, compliance, or reimbursement domain. The NAC role falls within the reimbursement domain, as the MDS drives reimbursement for the facility and a care plan for the resident. You can work up to a medicare nurse, a care coordinator, or a unit supervisor; these are all roles that can help you get to the end goal of becoming a NAC. If you're in a supervisory role and looking to get off the floor but remain involved in the resident's life, the nurse assessment coordinator role can be a perfect fit for you. 

Education Needed

Most nurse assessment coordinators have an RN degree, as that is needed to sign the MDS; however, LPNs may complete the MDS and have a supervisor sign off. We also recommend supplemental education to advance your skill level and prove your expertise in the area of assessment and care coordination. These courses include:

  • MDS 101: This introductory course describes the history and development of the MDS and provides a high-level overview of key concepts and components of the MDS, the Care Area Assessments (CAAs), and care plan development. This course offers a basic understanding of the need for thorough data collection in pursuit of MDS accuracy and the correlation to the impact the accuracy provides for positive nursing home survey outcomes, reimbursement, and Quality Measure results. MDS 101 is a single course with no exams, so it's a quick and easy way to start building a solid foundation for MDS knowledge. 
  • MDS Essentials Virtual Workshop Series: Perfect for those with minimal experience/training or less than six months experience working with the MDS, this 10-session recorded webinar series will help you become familiar with the MDS and more confident in starting a career in this field.
  • Resident Assessment Coordinator--Certified (RAC-CT®) Certification: Designed to be an advanced-level program, the RAC-CT certification is recommended for those with greater than seven months and a strong working knowledge of the MDS. This certification is not recommended for those not confident in their MDS practices or those just entering their role.  

Still unsure about which course to start with? Answer the questions on this MDS Education Flowchart tool about your MDS knowledge and find out where to begin.

Membership and Support

In addition to education, we recommend becoming a member of AANAC. Members have access to a wide array of resources, articles, tips, and tools that can help guide you in your career change and help you prepare for a career in MDS efficiently. We also offer a members-only community where you can post questions, ask for clarification, and meet peers that are in your same newbie shoes.

Other Resources

Utilize the quick links below to easily access additional resources to help in your pursuit of becoming a nurse assessment coordinator.  

To download the "Day in the Life of an MDS Coordinator" infographic including salary information, please complete the form below.