Credentials? Check! Training? Check! Proper attire and infection control measures? Check and check! Visits from the CMS can be nerve-racking. These annual facility surveys occur randomly and if a facility where you work hasn’t already been visited this year, a CMS visit could be coming up soon – but Gale can help you prepare!

We’ve spoken with Gale Healthcare’s very own Director of Clinical Education, Ellen Carros RN, BSN. Carros has spent an impressive 25 years in the healthcare industry, with much of that time spent in long-term care. During that time, she’s experienced dozens of facility surveys. In this post, we highlight 5 ways you can ensure your CMS visit goes as smoothly as possible. But first, what is the CMS anyway?

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, is the federal agency that runs the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Basically, this means they decide which facilities get federal funding. In the case of nursing homes, this is done through random facility surveys, which they use to examine factors, such as patient interactions, quality of care, infection control, and more. Simply put, if a facility doesn’t meet the standards laid out by the CMS, it could lose its funding – and jobs can be lost, too. So, how can you ensure a smooth CMS visit?

5 Tips to Ensure a Smooth CMS Visit

The trick to ensuring a smooth CMS visit is simple: Always be prepared. Remember, these surveys are random. The CMS won’t give a heads-up before they arrive. So to guarantee everything is in ship-shape when they do, maintain the proper standards every day. These five tips are a great place to start. 

1. Focus on Your Job

If you’ve ever experienced a CMS visit, you know they can be distracting – and sometimes downright stressful. After all, CMS surveys typically last seven days. That’s a whole week of unfamiliar faces looking into every nook and cranny of the facility. Here’s a tip: Take a deep breath and focus on your job. This is what the CMS team wants to see – and it’s what you’re great at! Prove to them how well you handle all your job responsibilities.

2. Keep Your Credentials Up-to-date

Nursing care is a licensed profession for a reason. Residents and their families put their trust in clinicians because you’re trained and authorized to do the job well. Valid credentials are how you prove that training – and the CMS team will look into it. If they discover you’re providing care without the proper credentials, you will be forced to resign from your post and the facility may face legal trouble in addition to the trouble they’ll face from the CMS. 

3. Address Your Residents’ Needs

First and foremost, you’re there to meet your patients’ and residents’ needs. Make sure you’re doing just that. According to a study by the National Center on Elder Abuse, 95% of nursing home patients said they had been neglected or had seen another resident neglected. Neglect can lead to infections to self-harm and even death. If the CMS survey team discovers evidence of neglect, it will negatively impact survey results.

4. Maintain Proper Infection Control Measures

This has never been more important. Due to COVID-19 and seasonal viruses like the flu, nursing facilities can be at high risk if infections aren’t properly managed. Furthermore, because these viruses are more dangerous when contracted by the elderly, the CMS wants to know you take it seriously. Washing your hands, wearing a protective face mask, and using proper coughing etiquette are just a few of the ways you can control the spread of infection. Sterilizing medical equipment and cleaning tables, chairs, and handrails with sanitizer are additional ways to help prevent infection. 

5. Stick to Your Training

Who’s ready for a pop quiz? Another aspect of CMS facility surveys is clinician observations. This is just a fancy way of saying they stand back and observe while you provide care. This is to determine whether or not you’ve been properly trained. Surveyors will even quiz clinicians on the spot on how to complete specific tasks. If you know the answer, that’s great! If you don’t, that’s ok.  Just respond, “I am not sure, but let me find out for you.”

What Happens if Your Facility gets a Poor Rating?

Failing a CMS survey would be problematic in many ways.  It places the facility at risk of losing funding, which can impact care. Concern about conditions can make people wary of leaving their loved ones in the facility’s care. What does that mean for you? Less opportunity to work.

What’s The Takeaway?

Visits by the CMS are nothing to fear. Just like you, they play a role in ensuring the well-being of facility residents. As long as you always stick to your training, keep your credentials up-to-date, and deliver proper care, their visit won’t be much different than any other day. If you’re not sure what to do in a particular situation, don’t be afraid to ask your supervisors for guidance. However, if you use unapproved methods, you could negatively impact the results of the CMS survey and potentially cause harm to your residents’ health. 

About Ellen Carros

Ellen Carros, RN, BSN is the Director of Clinical Education at Gale Healthcare Solutions. Carros graduated from George Mason University in 1997 before going on to establish a 25-year career in the healthcare industry. Carros has served many nursing specialties such as surgical, telemetry, and correctional nursing in both acute and long-term care environments. She has also served as an educator, hosting CNA training courses at nursing homes. 

Experience Life as a Gale Clinician! 

Keeping your credentials up-to-date is a great way to prepare for a CMS survey. With Gale, it’s easy! Gale allows you to store all your credentials, so they’re accessible anytime and anywhere. We even give you a heads-up when one is about to expire.  You’ll get alerts so you don’t miss the deadline to renew.   

With Gale, you can choose when and where you work. You also get same-day pay. In fact, in most cases, you’re paid less than an hour after finishing work. As W-2 employees, Gale clinicians are also eligible for benefits* that include:

  • Holiday and Overtime pay
  • Access to Medical, Dental, Vision, and Disability Insurance options
  • Professional Counseling Services 
  • Financial coaching 


Are you a nurse or nursing assistant who wants to take control of your schedule and pay? Go back to our website to finish your application. If you need help, contact us here and we’ll be in touch. We look forward to helping you discover the freedom and flexibility of being a Gale clinician! 

*Eligibility for some benefits is based on specific work requirements.