Function of a Medication Aide

The purpose of the medication aide position is to provide a safe way for individuals other than licensed health care professionals (doctors, nurses, etc.) to administer medications to individuals who are not able to take medications by themselves. State laws control the activities of a medication aide. The purpose of these laws is to ensure the health, safety and welfare of people by providing for the accurate, cost-effective, efficient and safe utilization of medication aides to assist in administration of medications. Each state has different requirements for safe administration of medications. Some states allow unlicensed persons to provide medications, and some do not.

Medication aides assist with the provision of medications, which includes the following: giving or applying a dose of a medication to an individual according to the five rights, helping an individual in giving or applying medication according to the five rights, and accurately recording medication provision. Medication aides do not observe, monitor, report or otherwise take action regarding desired effects, side effects, interactions or contraindications associated with medications.

Direction and monitoring means the acceptance of responsibility for observing and taking appropriate action regarding any desired effects, side effects, interactions or contraindications associated with a medication. Direction and monitoring can be done by residents with the capability and capacity to make informed decisions about their medications, resident-specific caregivers or licensed health care professionals.

A medication aide may be registered on a medication aide registry. To be a medication aide in any setting, the individual may be required to pass a competency test. A competency test includes written questions and/or the demonstration of skills needed to provide medications. Testing is often done by different individuals in various work settings. States have different requirements regarding training hours and content. This manual is designed to cover the overall competencies necessary to provide people with medications in a safe, effective manner. Instructors must ensure the requirements of the state in which they are training are met.

A medication aide may provide routine medications by the following, basic routes if direction and monitoring are provided: 1. Oral 2. Inhalation (inhalers, nebulizers, oxygen) 3. Topical 4. Instillation into the eyes, ears and nose.


Being safe with medications should be the medication aide’s primary concern when assisting with or providing medications to another person. Safety means following the five rights of medication administration. The five rights are giving the right medicine to the right person at the right time by the right route in the right dose. This is essential to maintain safety for the resident. Safety with medications also includes the ability to understand and follow directions. Some facilities may identify additional rights such as the right documentation or right reason for providing the medication.

Understanding and Following Directions

 Part of being safe with medications is the ability to understand and follow directions. In order to understand medication directions, there are some abbreviations and terms to learn.


Many abbreviations are used when administering medications. Abbreviations must be approved by the facility to be used. It is important to follow facility policies, or errors can occur. Some abbreviations can increase the risk for error, and care should be taken to minimize the chance for error.

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