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Q: I'm a new MDS coordinator and am feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information available and how much I need to learn. What is the easiest and fastest way to become comfortable with completing the MDS?

Julia's PPS Chat, June 23, 2004

This e-zine is brought to you by the popular newsletter PPS Alert for Long-Term Care.


Welcome once again to our PPS chat!

Let me start by asking a question. Is there anyone out there who has never felt overwhelmed by a job? I'm sure almost all of you have had times when you think you'll never be able to fully understand how to do your job, or that you'll never accomplish everything expected of you.

This week's question and answer deals with those feelings.

Q: I'm a new MDS coordinator and am feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information available and how much I need to learn. What is the easiest and fastest way to become comfortable with completing the MDS?

A: The first resource that is absolutely essential for your position is the revised Resident Assessment Instrument (RAI) User's Manual published by CMS in December 2002. This manual explains the MDS form itself, provides guidelines for coding each item of the MDS, and also discusses the triggers, resident assessment protocols, and the care planning process.

Be advised, however, that CMS has updated this manual through two revisions published in August 2003 and April 2004. Make sure you have these latest updates. Go to www.hcpro.com/long-term-care and scroll down to the Long-Term Care Information Center. Then click on "MDS/Coding" and look under "Government Documents" to access the updates on the RAI User's Manual.

Federal PPS rules, also published by CMS, contain the specific information you need to become familiar with the MDS requirements for PPS. These rules have also undergone several changes and updates, so be sure to obtain the most recent information. Go to www.cms.gov to find all of CMS' published rules and regulations.

You might also want to attend a PPS/MDS seminar. This will give you further information necessary to perform your job. Finally-and maybe most importantly-network with your peers.

Do not be afraid to ask plenty of questions. The MDS coordinator role is a highly specialized position requiring initiative, the ability to set goals, and well-developed organizational skills.

The above information should help you feel more comfortable in your position. Always be sure to use the resources that are available to you.

We'll be chatting again soon-