Caught between working as a NP or MDS coordinator

  1. I know this isn't Dear Abby but if anyone has the time, I'd appreciate some insight. I am in the middle of preparing to get my NP certification (graduated December 2012). Meanwhile, I've discovered I'm pregnant and the ltc facility where I work currently has offered to train me for an mds position (understanding full well I'm pregnant.)

    So, I'm kind of in a pickle. I definitely want to get my NP credentials but at the same time I don't think anyone with any foresight will want to hire and train a pregnant NP. The facility where I am now knows I'm pregnant and still wants me to stay, though training for an mds position is a long-term committment. So, I'm wondering what might the value be in focusing on an mds position vs. trying to find a NP job. I've got a lot of money in student loans to start paying back and was depending on an NP salary to help me out. Or, do mds coordinators make better money than a floor nurse? My guess is no, so I'd still be muddling through on a rather crummy salary for making headway on student loans...or would it be for the best at this point and time to let the NP plans rest for a couple of years and focus on doing mds? I was told a good mds coordinator is worth his or her weight in gold (though I wasn't given any figures.)

    Anyway, I doubt I'm even making much sense, but as I sit through another sleepless night these concerns are running through my mind and I'd just appreciate any insight on the matter.
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    About JenDandy

    Joined: Feb '12; Posts: 6


  3. by   juan de la cruz
    Maybe I can comment on this only because I am a nurse practitioner albeit, trained as an Acute Care NP and currently working in an acute care setting, and I also used to work as an MDS Coordinator early during my nursing career at a SNF. Both roles require a lot of commitment and a significant amount of learning curve. You'll really have to choose which of the two roles you want to do for a while (in maybe a year or so) while you finish your pregnancy and raise a new baby.

    MDS Coordinators are not involved in bedside care or any other clinical role for that matter. They are tasked with completing a Resident Assessment Instrument (called MDS) mandated by CMS for all residents in nursing facilities. Depending on how big the facility is, you may have other MDS nurses working under you or you may be by yourself and the one completing the nursing sections of the MDS. You will be tasked with coordinating the completion and timely submission of the MDS by an interdisciplinary team (Activities, Social Work, Dietitian). You may also be tasked with coordinating required family and resident care conferences. It is a great role for someone who likes case management type roles, someone who has an interest in health care financing, or someone who likes to lead. In other words, it is an "office" type role where you don't get your hands dirty with patient care. Definitely a role you can carry through your pregnancy and even after.

    Nurse practitioners are healthcare providers. There are many diverse NP roles out there but I am not sure what kind of NP you trained for and what kind of setting or practice you are interested in doing (primary care vs specialty vs acute care). I do believe you can work as an NP easily through pregnancy -- you are not providing bedside care like a staff RN does. You are not lifting patients. However, you may have to deal with long hours of rounding on patients and long hours of catching up on documentation (clinic notes, progress notes, etc.). It shouldn't matter to an NP employer whether your pregnant or not. I've worked with many pregnant NP's who are working weeks preceding their due date. You trained as an NP and if you do not practice as an NP for a number of years, it may take you a while to get back to it and some employers may actually question why you have not been in a clinical role when the time comes that you are wanting to get an NP position.

    Give it some thought. You will have to sacrifice something whatever decision you end up with.
  4. by   JenDandy
    Yes, it seems either decision will have some sacrificing. This is a 300+ bed unit and I would be one of 5 mds coordinators. I will be getting someone trained in teaching mds to teach me. I could tell them to go ahead and let someone else have the job but I hate to burn my bridges like that. I have helped out a little with mds before, so I know enough to know I would like the job, even the care plan meetings.

    But I spent about 50k to get through an Adult NP program. Ugh, talk about the road not taken.
  5. by   Altra
    If you have been formally offered the MDS position, I'm assuming you have been quoted a salary ... to help you make your decision.
  6. by   JenDandy
    Quote from Altra
    If you have been formally offered the MDS position, I'm assuming you have been quoted a salary ... to help you make your decision.
    No, salary hasn't been discussed at all. Since I'm basically just changing positions in the company I'm guessing there will be no pay increase.
  7. by   nurseprnRN
    that is an assumption that they may be counting on you to make. you should definitely get a raise to assume that kind of responsibility, and they know it. make them make you an offer, and it should be at least a 10% increase over what you're making now.
    but hey-- why go to the trouble and expense of learning to be an np and then just wave it away with a "nevermind"?
  8. by   JenDandy
    That's the agony of it all. I've invested too much into being a NP, I think my plan will be to take the mds job, get certified as a NP and hold out for a good NP job in my area. That could take awhile as there is no NP shortage but at least I'll be in the market.
  9. by   mrmedical
    Why not do MDS until you deliver plus a couple months or years until you get the family matters ironed out, then just apply for your NP certification then? Or is there a time limit you must meet to certify?