Nevada — Edition 33
Change Language:
Medication Aide-Certified
Roseann Colosimo

In June 2011, the legislature passed a bill, SB411, which gives the Nevada State Board of Nursing the authority to regulate a new type of provider, Medication Aide- Certified (MA-C). The MA-C functions in designated long-term care facilities in Nevada under the supervision of a licensed professional nurse to administer certain types of medications through delegation by the RN. Sixty-six percent of the states have an unlicensed form of medication administration. Nationwide, Boards of Nursing regulate 27 percent of these unlicensed assistive personnel and 46 percent of them are regulated by another state agency. SB 411 provides for protection of the public through carefully worded legislation. The MA-C may not replace a licensed nurse or a full-time equivalent. It is important that nurses and facility administration know the requirements of the law to safely utilize this additional type of provider.

Once a law is passed, regulations must be promulgated to implement the terms of the new statute. The announcement of intent to change regulations can be found on the Board of Nursing website. Please read and offer your comments in writing or in person at the December 21, 2011 Public Workshop or at the January 10, 2012 hearing.

These are the basics of the new statute and regulations. Similar to Nursing Assistant Training Programs, schools will apply to teach the Medication Aide course. The course instructor must meet requirements by having an unencumbered RN license and must hold certification with the NSBN as a Nursing Assistant Instructor. The program applicants are required to complete a six-hour training course which will be offered by the NSBN. Applicants for the MA-C program must pass an entrance exam to document adequate math and writing skills. They then are required to successfully complete a 100-hour MA-C course, which will include receiving at least an 80 percent pass rate in theory and successful completion of a course in clinical administration of medications. Applicants must pass a Board approved national exam administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing as a requirement for certification by the NSBN.

The goal for utilizing the MA-C is to improve safety by having the licensed professional nurse focused on client assessment. The MA-C may not administer any medications that require assessment, a first time medication, pain medications, or insulin. Studies have shown the medication administration load can be reduced by 20-30 percent, which enables the nurse to assess the client condition more accurately. The MA-C is not permitted to have a client assignment in addition to passing medications.

The Journal of Nursing Regulation has two articles that give the Board important information on how to safely implement this program and utilize MA-Cs. Budden (2011) found that median client assignment 31. The MA-Cs expressed concern that they were being asked to perform tasks beyond their scope of practice. Such tasks included performing other patient care tasks, assessments, treatment procedures and administering insulin and pain medication. In order to prevent these occurrences in Nevada, the NSBN will implement comprehensive education requirements for all nurses who will be working with, supervising and/or delegating to MA-Cs.

It is extremely important that nurses are well informed about the implementation of MA-Cs. The tremendous pressure on long-term care with an aging population will only continue to dominate this healthcare sector. Professional nurses must always be the patient advocates for safe nursing in a changing world.

Budden, J. (2011) “The First National Survey of Medication Aides.” Journal of Nursing Regulation 2:3, 4-12
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