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FAQ for Med Administration for Unlicensed Personnel Course

Q: Who can take the Medication Administration for Unlicensed Personnel class?

Tennessee Code Annotated (TCA) rules say only staff

  1. already employed by a provider agency or microboard contracted with the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD),
  2. who is not a nurse or licensed health care professional,
  3. who is at least 18 years old,
  4. who has not been convicted of a crime rationally related to his or her employment, and
  5. who reads, speaks, writes and understands the English language can take the class. And if the test/class has been failed twice the person is not eligible to attend class again.

Q: What does the Medication Administration course cover?

It covers the administration, storage and disposal of medication, documentation and record keeping, types of medications, their actions, interactions, potential side effects, adverse reactions and the appropriate emergency responses, terminology abbreviations, measurement abbreviations, state and federal regulations regarding medications, legal and ethical aspects of medication administration, and an introduction to physiology, pharmacology and sample forms. Individual agency policies must be taught separately, outside the 20 hour time frame.

Q: Does Medication Administration for Unlicensed Personnel training include injections for osteoporosis?

No, it is not part of the exemption granted.

Q: Does Medication Administration for Unlicensed Personnel training include a Nebulizer?

No, it is not part of the exemption granted.

Q: Does Medication Administration for Unlicensed Personnel training include regulating oxygen?

No, it is not part of the exemption granted

Q: Who can teach the Med Admin class?

Only registered nurses (RN) with experience working with individuals who are intellectually disabled and who have taken the train the trainer class, passed the examination and been certified by the DIDD regional nurse educator. Certification must be renewed every 2 years and must be current. Current certification of trainers, and staff, can be verified by calling the regional nurse educator.

Q: How many students can be in a class?

Only 20 students are allowed for a single trainer. More than 20 students require a second RN certified trainer's presence for the entire class and testing as the 20 x 1 ratio is mandated by Tennessee law.

Q: How long is the class?

Initial training is at least 20 hours of instruction and can not be taught all in one day. Recertification class is at least 8 hours of instruction. Time for testing and skills check offs are not included in the 20 or 8 hours. Staff should always arrive early and be rested and prepared with a copy of the training materials. Admittance to class after start time is not allowed as TN law mandates length of training. Labor laws may require a 15 minute break after 4 hours if class is less than 6 hours, and if class is more than 6 hours at least a 30 minute lunch break is required. Breaks and lunch are not included in instruction time.

Q: What do you have to do to pass?

Attend the required hours of instruction, pass the written examination with a score of at least 80% and demonstrate competency on the hands-on skills check off of administration of various types (at least 3) of medications. Participants will get a certificate/card which is the property of the participant. The agency shall have a copy of the signed participant record on file as proof of certification.

Q: Can staff administer any meds without a current certification?


Q: How long does the certification last?

Certification is good for two years from the date of the test. Staff is eligible for retraining no more than 45 days prior to expiration date.

Q: What if we can't find a class before the expiration date?

Staff is eligible to enroll in an 8 hour recertification class up to 45 days prior to expiration date. If they do not attend and pass before expiration date they MUST STOP ADMINISTERING MEDICATIONS until they pass the class. They remain eligible for an 8 hr class for only 30 days after their expiration date. If class is more than 30 days past expiration date, staff must take a 20 hour initial class again, as they are no longer eligible for 8 hr class. For most recent calendar of training dates, always call the regional office nurse educator as DIDD website calendar can not be updated with every addition and change but the regional office will have most current calendar information.

Q: Can staff still pass meds if certification has not yet expired but staff took a recertification class and failed?

NO, when agency is notified that staff failed the recertification class that staff must stop passing meds immediately and can not begin again until they have passed.

Q: How can I verify if trainer or staff certification is valid and current?

Call your DIDD regional office and speak with Nurse Educator, or Director of Nursing. They maintain a database and have access to training records of all regions of the state.

Q: Where can we get a copy of the training materials?

The manual is available free of charge on the DIDD clinical services web site (here) for printing. Agencies are encouraged to keep copies on hand.

Q: Who pays for the class, trainer's time?

Some agencies have certified Med Admin class trainers on staff who are paid for their regular hour work time; the state of Tennessee will reimburse the agency per eligible class participant upon receipt of completed class paperwork from the trainer. If your agency does not have a certified RN trainer, you should check the DIDD website calendar of available classes and pre-register your staff no earlier than 45 days prior to their certification expiration date. DIDD will pay independent trainers directly upon receipt of class paperwork. Staff should always arrive early and be rested and prepared with a copy of the training materials. Admittance to class after start time is not allowed, as Tennessee law mandates length of training.

Q: Does DIDD mandate the length of Medication Administration class?

The Board of Nursing consultants, when creating the curriculum for Medication Administration for Unlicensed Personnel, stated in the curriculum that instruction must be at least 20 hours with testing afterwards. DIDD reviews the time sheets submitted by certified RN trainers, but does not mandate how class instruction and testing hours are scheduled; the trainer does. (or the agency does in the case of agency trainers) Thus you may see initial (20 hour) classes spread over 3, 4, 5, or more days depending on whether the classes include weekend time, evenings, the typical work-day hours, or some combination of those.

Q: Why doesn't DIDD supply a study guide to help staff pass the course?

DIDD certified RN trainers must teach Medication Administration for Unlicensed Personnel from the approved curriculum. DIDD made that curriculum available to all agencies and their staff by posting it on the DIDD Clinical Services website to be reviewed and studied at any time. You may view the curriculum here.

Q: Can agencies create their own study guides and MAR training?

Yes, every agency has access to the approved curriculum and can create materials they feel are helpful for learning safe medication administration - as allowed by the exemption and included in the curriculum. Agencies are always encouraged to help their employees acquire the knowledge and practice the skills needed for doing their jobs well and better supporting people. DIDD certified RN trainers in all areas of the state use that same Board of Nursing approved curriculum for teaching Medication Administration for Unlicensed Personnel.

Q: What exactly is nurse delegation?

Every RN has a license with the state of Tennessee which authorizes them to perform their nursing duties in Tennessee. Occasionally a nurse may decide to train an unlicensed person (someone who is not a nurse) to perform some action that nurses normally do in the performance of their jobs. The registered nurse thus takes responsibility for the safe and correct performance of that action and delegates the authority of their license to cover the actual performance of the action by that unlicensed person. When this happens it is called nurse delegation. The delegating nurse is still legally liable on his/her nursing license for the correct and safe performance of the action.