In the November/December 2005 CMA Today, this author discussed an important change in the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) Model Nursing Practice Act. At the request of the American Association of Medical Assistants, the NCSBN changed the wording in its document from “certified medication assistant” to “medication assistant-certified.”

After this change by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, this author contacted Utah State Representative Rebecca D. Lockhart regarding the wording of a bill she had introduced in the Utah House. The bill “amended the Nurse Practice Act to create a certified medication aide in long-term care facilities.” This author requested that the wording of the bill be brought in line with the Model Act of the NCSBN so that there would be less confusion between Certified Medical Assistants and medication assistants.

Representative Lockhart reintroduced the bill in the 2006 General Session of the Utah House of Representatives. She accepted the request of the AAMA and changed all references to “certified medication assistants” to “medication assistants-certified.” Key provisions of the legislation are set forth below:

H.B. 137

MEDICATION AIDE CERTIFIED
2006 GENERAL SESSION
STATE OF UTAH

Chief Sponsor: Rebecca D. Lockhart

……

(11) “Medication aide certified” means a certified nurse aide who:

(a) has a minimum of 2,000 hours experience working as a certified nurse aide;

(b) has received a minimum of 40 hours of classroom and 20 hours of practical training that is approved by the division in collaboration with the board, in administering routine medications to patients or residents of long-term care facilities; and

(c) is certified by the division as a medication aide certified.

(12)

(a) “Practice as a medication aide certified” means the limited practice of nursing under the supervision, as defined by the division by administrative rule, of a licensed nurse, involving routine patient care that requires minimal or limited specialized or general knowledge, judgment, and skill, to an individual who is ill, injured, infirm, developmentally or physically disabled, mentally disabled, or mentally retarded, and who is in a regulated long-term care facility.

(b) “Practice as a medication aide certified” includes:

(i) providing direct personal assistance or care; and

(ii) administering routine medications to patients in accordance with a formulary and protocols to be defined by the division by rule.

……

58-31b-301.6. Medication aide certified pilot program.

(1)

(a) The division shall establish a medication aide certified pilot program to determine the safety and efficiency of regulating medication aides certified.

(b) The pilot program begins on January 1, 2007, and sunsets in accordance with Section 63-55b-158 .

(c) The division shall collect data regarding the safety and efficiency of medication aides certified and shall make the data available to the public.

(d) If the Legislature does not reauthorize the medication aides certified in accordance with Section 63-55b-158, all certifications will automatically expire on the sunset date.

(2) If at any time the division determines the certification pilot program has become a threat, or potential threat to the public health, safety, or welfare, the division may authorize emergency rules to place the certification program in abeyance until the next legislative session.

……

58-31b-302. Qualifications for licensure or

certification background checks.

(1) An applicant for certification as a medication aide shall:

(a) submit an application to the division on a form prescribed by the division;

(b) pay a fee to the division as determined under Section 63-38-3.2;

(c) have a high school diploma or its equivalent;

(d) have a current certification as a nurse aide, in good standing, from the Department of Health;

(e) have a minimum of 2,000 hours of experience within the two years prior to application, working as a certified nurse aide in a long-term care facility;

(f) obtain letters of recommendation from a long-term care facility administrator and one licensed nurse familiar with the applicant’s work practices as a certified nurse aide;

(g) be in a condition of physical and mental health that will permit the applicant to practice safely as a medication aide certified;

(h) have completed an approved education program or an equivalent as determined by the division in collaboration with the board;

(i) have passed the examinations as required by division rule made in collaboration with the board; and

(j) meet with the board, if requested, to determine the applicant’s qualifications for certification.

It is most encouraging that state legislation can be changed at the request of the AAMA. Please monitor your state senate and general assembly for the introduction of any medication assistant/aide bills, and immediately contact AAMA Executive Director, Legal Counsel, Donald A. Balasa, JD, MBA. Confusion between medical assistants and medication assistants/aides can be reduced as a result of your vigilance. Comments regarding this issue should be sent to Balasa at dbalasa@aama-ntl.org.

Questions? Contact Donald A. Balasa, JD, MBA, at dbalasa@aama-ntl.org or 800/228-2262.