Certified Medication Aide Job Description
Certified medication aides, also known as CMAs, administer medications of all kinds to patients. Hospitals, nursing homes, and medical facilities hire certified medication aides to work full-time flexible shifts including nights and weekends. Certified medication aides work in clinical settings within a collaborative team environment where they interact with other medical staff members. They do not travel outside of the facility to perform their regular tasks. Certified medication aides usually report to the nursing supervisor on duty.
Certified Medication Aide Duties and Responsibilities
Day-to-day job duties carried out by certified medication aides differ based on the facility they work at, the number of patients they administer medication to, and the number of family members and visitors coming into the facility. These core tasks, however, are essentially the same in all work environments:
Certified medication aides administer medication to patients per doctors’ prescriptions, observing correct times to dispense these medications. This includes dispensing oral, topical, and other types of medication.
Supervise and Observe Patients
Certified medication aides supervise patients as they administer their own medication, ensuring that all prescriptions are taken properly and that dosage instructions are followed. CMAs also observe patients, noting any changes to their appearance or behavior, and answer questions about medications from patients and family members.
Take Vital Signs
Certified medication aides take and record patient vital signs.
Flag Problem Prescriptions
CMAs alert nursing staff of potential medication interactions and signs that patients are having a poor reaction to certain medications.
Certified medication aides maintain patient records, accurately recording when medications have been dispensed and adding other care notes as necessary.
Follow Safe Handling Procedures
Certified medication aides properly store medication. This includes refrigerating certain medications and keeping narcotics and potentially dangerous medications in safe storage so they are not accessible to patients.
Assist Nursing Staff
CMAs assist nursing staff with patient care as requested. This includes helping to lift and transport patients and assisting with the operation of various medical equipment.
Certified Medication Aide Skills and Qualifications
Certified medication aides are detail-oriented caregivers who ensure that medications are properly and safely administered to all patients. When making hiring decisions, employers look for the following specific skills:
- Customer service – certified medication aides work in a caregiving setting and answer questions from patients and family members, so employers look for professionals who possess customer service skills and a good bedside manner
- Communication skills – certified medication aides use verbal communication skills to instruct patients on how to take their medication. They use written communication skills to record accurate notes in patient records
- Interpersonal skills – certified medication aides work in a collaborative environment, interacting with many patients and staff members, which requires good interpersonal skills
- Physical fitness – certified medication aides spend long hours standing and walking and must be able to lift, reach, and bend to perform their duties, which requires physical fitness and stamina
- Attention to detail – certified medication aides use excellent attention to detail to maintain a high level of awareness when observing patients and administering medication precisely to order
Tools of the Trade
Certified medication aides work regularly with these tools:
- Medication tools (dosage cups, plastic gloves, tongue depressors)
- Vital sign equipment (blood pressure cuffs, thermometers, penlights)
Certified Medication Aide Education and Training
Because patient care and safety are primary aspects of this job, employers have strict educational requirements for certified medication aides. After obtaining a high school diploma or equivalent, CMAs must also complete a state-certified or nationally-certified course for medical aides, certified nursing assistants, or medical technicians. Many employers look for candidates who have passed the medication aide certification exam (MACE), a national exam that provides certification upon successful completion. Some employers additionally require CMAs to have CPR certification, which is earned after applicants complete a simple training course.
Some paid training is provided to certified medication aides, who must learn specific procedures and practices followed by the hiring facility. This training program differs by employer and may last for several weeks. While in training, certified medication aides are closely monitored by the nursing supervisor or another senior medical staff member.
Certified Medication Aide Salary and Outlook
According to PayScale, certified medication aides earn $12.15 in median hourly income. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data shows nursing assistants and orderlies earn $27,510 annually, or $13.23 hourly. Nursing assistants and orderlies provide basic care to patients, performing some of the same tasks as certified medication aides. According to data from the BLS, these jobs will increase 11 percent through 2026, growth which is faster than the national average.
Certified medication aides receive full benefits packages from a majority of employers. This includes insurance coverage with health, dental, vision, life, and disability benefits. Paid vacation days and sick leave are also provided by most employers. Because of the high demand for skilled healthcare professionals, some employers additionally offer a sign-on bonus.
Check out these books and websites to find job openings, education resources, workplace tips, and helpful information for certified medication aides:
Medication Technician Study Guide: Medication Aide Training Manual – all professionals who administer medication can benefit from this training manual, which is full of techniques for administering meds and information about how drugs interact with each other and with the body
National Healthcare Workers Association – this website designed for healthcare workers of all types includes resources for finding certification programs, links for training workshops, and a job board of professional opportunities
Mosby’s Textbook for Medication Assistants – this straightforward textbook is easy to read and contains clear information with full-color drawings and photos describing techniques for communicating with patients, following safe practices, and learning key terms
National Healthcareer Association – pursue a career in healthcare with help from NHA, which provides certification program resources, professional development links, and a job board full of opportunities
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