New Jersey Utilizes CDS for Pre-Service Medical Training


As internet technology improves day-by-day, federal and state agencies are beginning to embrace online learning to streamline and improve training. This past July, the State of New Jersey decided to allow agencies to utilize the DirectCourse/College of Direct Support (CDS) online medication curriculum as a part of meeting their pre-service medication training requirements for direct support professionals (DSPs).

“Through the CDS we’re bringing new ideas to the system,” says Colleen McLaughlin, MEd, Community Training and TA Coordinator with the Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. The Boggs Center is New Jersey’s federally designated University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities.

“Part of our role is to provide states a variety of supports and services,” McLaughlin explains. “We have a major project focused on workforce development for direct support professionals. Because of that, we’ve brought in CDS to New Jersey, and have been supporting the state and state’s providers for implementing its use in a variety of ways.”

One of the many goals of the Boggs Center is to build a strong DSP workforce. “We’re moving slowly and steadily ahead,” she says. Using the best training methods, with excellent content that is affordable for states and convenient, is one of the many ways to achieve this goal.

The state requires each DSP to take five trainings before they begin work with people. “Each DSP has to have an overview of developmental disabilities course, a preventing of abuse and neglect course, medications training, CPR, and First Aid training,” McLaughlin states. “Medications training is unique among those because DSPs can work with people but can’t administer medication until this training is complete.”

In New Jersey, agencies trained direct support professionals in numerous ways—in classrooms, on the job, and using the College of Direct Support online curriculum for various topics, not including medication training. However, over time, agencies working with CDS began to request using its curriculum for this topic. This year, the state made medication training available via CDS, allowing agencies to use either classroom instruction or DirectCourse’s online course for medication training.

To get trained, a DSP has to complete the medication curriculum with the CDS, take all pre- and post-tests, and then have a mandatory supervisory competency assessment that they complete on-the-job. Finally, they have to do three Med passes with a supervisor before they can begin administering medication to the people they support.

“The impetus behind this was convenience and efficiency,” McLaughlin says. “The curriculum is so good.” The flexibility of online training, coupled with on-the-job training and even some classroom reinforcement, can help the Boggs Center achieve its goal of helping build a strong, standardized DSP workforce.

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