McKnight’s Articles

A natural evolution of the MDS coordinator: Nurse Informaticist

Jennifer Gross, BSN, RN-BC, RAC-CT, fascinates me. She describes taking a scenic route to completing her BSN — first completing a B.A. in psychology before returning to nursing school.

Jen occasionally butters me up by reminding me that I provided her first MDS class “back in the day,” but she has long surpassed my MDS expertise! Most recently, she completed a graduate certificate program in informatics. “Informatics” is a term describing the acquiring, storing, retrieving and utilization of healthcare information to create value within and across healthcare providers. It is playing a critical role in the explosion of health information technology and the push toward healthcare reform.

So why is informatics meaningful for long-term/post-acute care providers, and why now? I sat down with Jen to get her answers and found a solid career path for MDS coordinators and as well as a strategy for SNFs:

Jen: “My time as an MDS coordinator was one long learning experience.  When I first started I had no concept about RUGs, QMs, or CASPER or how the ‘system’ worked. Initially, the role was very task-oriented — get the assessment done and get it to the state. Along the way, I learned more about the proper role of the MDS coordinator and the relevance it played in clinical and business operations.”

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