Medication aides work in nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and correctional institutions to administer prescribed medication to patients, residents and inmates. They work under the direction and supervision of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, physicians and nurse practitioners. Qualified medication aides are required to pass a medication aide training program and state-administered certification exam.
Age and Residency Requirements
Most employers require applicants to be 18 years of age or older before gaining employment as a medication aide. Medication aides are also typically required to be United States citizens or legal residents.
Although education prerequisites vary for medication aides, most medication aide training programs and state registries require candidates to have a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Some require applicants to sit for a basic competency examination; others will only allow applicants into the program if they have previously earned their CNA (certified nurse assistant) certification. States that require applicants to have earned their CNA certification typically also require applicants to submit proof of having a certain number of hours of nurse aide experience, as well as current proof of being on their state's nurse aide registry. Several states also require medication aide applicants to have a current CPR certification.
Before they can be accepted to a medication aide training course or being allowed to sit for the certification examination, most states require medication aide applicants to provide fingerprints, submit to a criminal background check and take a drug test. Medication aides are consistently exposed to medications that can be harmful if not taken by the intended party or addictive; training programs and certifying bodies need to be positive that medication aide applicants are trustworthy.
Medication Aide Training Course
Before earning certification as a medication aide, applicants are required to take a medication aide course. Courses are offered at community colleges, vocational schools, technical schools and nursing homes. According to Education-Portal.com, students in medication aide training programs receive instruction in pharmacology, patient care and legal considerations. Students are also taught how to administer medication topically, orally, by instillation and by inhalation.
Medication Aide Examination
States administer individual certifying exams for medication aides. Although there is no uniform examination, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing has created a Medication Aide Certification Examination (MACE) which, according to itswebsite, will be available for national administration beginning in January 2010. The exam has four sections: authorized duties, medication administration, medication concepts and measurements, and observation, care and reporting.