New Rules Ease Restrictions on Certified Medication Aide Training for Some Individuals

DES MOINES – New rules adopted recently by the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA) will make it easier for residential care facility (RCFs) employees to become certified medication aides (CMAs). The rules, which take effect Nov. 16, remove the requirement that individuals must first be a certified nursing assistant (CNA) before taking classes to become a CMA.

“Eliminating this requirement will permit an individual employed in a residential care facility to become trained as a CMA without first being a CNA,” Health Facilities Division Administrator Dawn Fisk explained. “The Department has heard from many smaller, rural facilities that it is difficult to hire individuals to work as certified medication aides due to the CNA requirement. Hopefully this change will lessen the burden on these facilities when hiring staff to care for their residents.”

In order to become a certified medication aide, the individual must complete a 60-hour course consisting of classroom study and clinical experience. The course, available at Iowa community colleges, prepares individuals to safely administer nonparenteral medications in nursing facilities and other settings. Prior to registering for the course, the employing facility must provide the individual with a letter of recommendation for admission to the course. 

The new rules apply only to individuals employed in residential care facilities licensed for more than 15 beds. Residential care facilities licensed for 15 or fewer beds may continue to use medication managers to administer nonparenteral medications. “The requirement that CMAs working in nursing facilities or skilled nursing facilities must first be a certified nursing assistant remains unchanged as this is a federal requirement,” Fisk added.  

A copy of the Department’s final rule [ARC 2643C] may be viewed or downloaded from the Legislative website.