MDS Coordinator: Job Description & Career Info

Sep 27, 2019

What Is an MDS Coordinator?

The Minimum Data Set (MDS) is a key tool in the process of assessing the functional capabilities of residents of certified nursing facilities. MDS coordinators, also known as nurse assessment coordinators, use these results to formulate and implement individual care plans for residents. Most are licensed nurses who are trained on-the-job or through formal, off-site MDS training programs.

Career Facts

Required Education Completion of registered nurse or licensed practical nurse education program AND on-the-job training OR a formal MDS coordinator training program
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 11% for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses; 12% for registered nurses
Median Annual Salary (2019)** $64,422

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

MDS Coordinator Job Description

So exactly what does an MDS coordinator do? The objective of MDS coordinators is to promote the physical and emotional well-being of nursing facility residents. They use a Resident Assessment Instrument (RAI) to gather information from residents and their families during initial and periodic follow-up interviews. The MDS covers such areas as the patient's mood, behavior patterns, cognitive ability, and nutrition needs.

Information from these assessments helps nursing home caretakers formulate individualized care plans that include support from social services, dieticians, rehab specialists, and medical staff. MDS coordinators then implement and monitor these care plans to ensure their effectiveness. They must also make sure all strategies comply with Medicare requirements and ethical standards.

Education and Licensing Requirements

MDS coordinators commonly start their careers as registered nurses (RN) or licensed practical nurses (LPN). RN degree programs last two to four years at the undergraduate level. Licensed practical nursing programs are typically one year in length. Coursework covers pharmacology, pathophysiology, and nursing fundamentals.

All nurses must be licensed by their state of employment. State licensure commonly requires passing nursing examinations that are administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). The NCSBN offers a National Council Licensure Exam for prospective RNs (NCLEX-RN) and for prospective LPNs (NCLEX-PN).

Formal MDS coordinator training programs are available, if employers do not provide this training on the job to newly hired nurses. The American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordination (AANAC) offers one that covers assessment scheduling, survey methods, and care planning. Those who complete this 10-course program become Resident Assessment Coordinator - Certified (RAC-CT).

Employment and Economic Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of RNs will grow by 12% from 2018-2028; job opportunities for LPNs and licensed vocational nurses is expected to increase by 11% during the same time frame. MDS coordinators earned anywhere from $49,000 to $85,000 annually as of August 2019, according to, with a median annual salary of about $64,000.

Most MDS coordinators complete a nursing degree program and work as a licensed or registered nurse before becoming an MDS coordinator. They may also complete a formal MDS coordinator training program or receive on-the-job training. Additionally, MDS coordinators must be licensed in the state in which they wish to work.

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