Nurse assessment coordinators (NACs) have many important qualities; however, there are a few that you should really keep in mind if you want to be successful in your job.
1. Learner/adaptable – The long-term care nursing environment is always changing. New government regulations are updated and changed every year (the RAI User’s Manual, Quality Measures, Medicare, etc.), new systems (from processes to technology) are being implemented all of the time, and the NAC has to keep up-to-date with all of it.
To be a successful NAC, you must challenge yourself to continue to learn and stay current in your field. You have to adapt your knowledge to the environment and field that you are in, and this field is always trying to improve resident care. By staying up-to-speed, you will help deliver the best assessments, the best care plans, and the best quality of care for your residents while staying compliant and achieving accurate reimbursement for Medicare.
2. Detail-oriented/excellent time management skills – It almost goes without saying that a NAC needs to pay crucial attention to detail. Filling out a minimum data set (MDS) is complex work and requires you to know important technical information (the RAI User’s Manual is currently 1419 pages long!) and be able to interpret and implement that knowledge correctly while doing so in a timely manner. NACs have to keep track of deadlines – assessment reference dates (ARDs), entry and discharge into the facility, observation (look back) periods, MDS submission times – just to name a few.
And not only do you have to keep track of the deadlines, you have to meet them. Time factors can impact accuracy and weigh into the success of your job.
3. High quality judgement/critical thinking – Assessment is a big part of the NAC’s job. You have to be an expert at using your clinical skills in order to determine a resident’s condition and level of care needed. You need to be able to determine significant changes in behavior, mood-related symptoms, ability to complete activities of daily living, what their needs are for maintaining or improving their well-being, and so much more. This job is not just sitting in an office filling out a form; it requires all of the clinical knowledge you learned in nursing school, analytic skills, root-cause analysis, and more.
4. Team player/compassionate/interviewing skills – Resident assessment, interviewing, and care plan creation is a process that requires working with multiple people in the interdisciplinary team (IDT), in the resident’s family, and even more now than ever with the resident directly in order to achieve the best results. You need to be able to communicate well, have patience, know how to handle pushback and difficult topics, let people know what you need from them and when, and have compassion for everyone’s position and time.
5. Desire to help – Many people choose the rewarding career of a NAC because they want to help older adults achieve the best possible care and well-being. When you work as a NAC, you know every day what you do is in service of others and makes a real difference in people’s lives. To be a successful NAC, you have to hold on to that passion and that desire to help our elders and always remember why you became a long-term care nurse. The desire to help is a driving force amidst all of your daily tasks, and it will absolutely reflect in your work.
Are you interested in learning more about what it takes to begin your career as a NAC and be successful? Start here.
AANAC was established to help nurse assessment coordinators thrive in their role. Everything we do is aimed at improving the quality of life and care for residents by ensuring your success as a NAC is possible. We support NACs with:
Although it may feel like it sometimes, you are not alone in this job! Learn more about the benefits of joining AANAC.