How to Free Up Your Nurses’ Time with CMAs

Hiring CMAs for your facility

There are several different types of nursing providers that you can hire at your facility. RNs, LPNs, and CNAs are the types you are likely to hire to fill most of your shifts, but you shouldn’t overlook hiring certified medication aides (CMAs). 

What is the Difference Between CMAs and CNAs? 

CNAs help patients complete tasks related to everyday life, such as eating, using the bathroom, bathing, and dressing. They also clean and prepare patient rooms, document issues that arise for patients, take vital signs, and reposition patients as needed. 

CMAs do all of the above, but go through additional training that allows them to do the following as well: 

  • Prepare and administer certain medications directly to patients.
  • Monitor patients and document responses to medication doses and use. 
  • Collect patient samples for analysis. 
  • Educate patients on proper medication use. 
  • Stock medication dispensary with supplies. 

CMAs must work as CNAs before completing the additional training needed to be able to perform the above tasks. The training takes about four months to complete and ends with an examination. Medication aide certificates aren’t permanent; CMAs renew these certifications at regular intervals and are required to provide proper credentialing to ensure that they are up to date. 

How Can CMAs Help My Facility Run More Efficiently? 

Hiring CMAs at your facility is a smart staffing move. When utilized appropriately, CMAs can free up time for the other nursing professionals on the floor so that they can attend to other patient care activities.  

CMAs can bear the load of a very specific patient need – medication preparation and administration – which is otherwise the responsibility of LPNs or RNs. This is extremely helpful on a busy floor where patients likely all need some sort of medication throughout the day, but also have other pressing needs that must be addressed in a timely manner. 

For example, if a CMA is available to dispense medications to patients A, B, and C, then the RN on the floor at the time can attend to redressing patient D’s wound. The RN will be able to care for that patient’s wound sooner and without feeling the need to rush through it, and the other patients will still receive their necessary medications on time. As a result, quality patient care is delivered, patient outcomes are positive, and your staff is being utilized efficiently. 

Does Hiring CMAs Result in a Higher Staffing Bill? 

CMAs are paid rates that are slightly higher than CNAs, but lower than LPNs and RNs. In the scenario above, when there are multiple patients who need critical attention paid to them at the same time, you might think to staff an LPN and an RN for the shift, or maybe even two RNs. What you would spend for an LPN and an RN (or two RNs) for the same shift would be more costly than what you would spend on a CMA and an RN for that shift. When used strategically, hiring CMAs is a way to maintain your ability to provide quality patient care and save money at the same time. 

How Else Can CMAs be Helpful to Me at My Facility? 

An added benefit to hiring CMAs is that, when they are not needed for medication preparation or administration duties, they can be reallocated to help with traditional CNA duties. For example, when morning medications have been given, patient samples have been collected, and the medication cart has been audited, CMAs can assist with dressing patients, helping to move patients out of bed and into wheelchairs, bringing patients meals, or whatever else might be needed at the time. 

Having CMAs staffing your shifts can also give you confidence that one of the most critical aspects of patient care – medication administration – is being properly handled. This is priority #1 for CMAs, so they are going to be focused on making sure that the correct medications are given to the right patients at the right time, and they will record all of it. Hiring CMAs ultimately is a better way to delegate tasks and keep your staff accountable, organized, and focused. 

If you’d like to find out more about staffing at your facility, talk to us!


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