Sometimes patients have more than one medical condition that requires the intervention of doctors across multiple specialties. When this happens, having a nurse case manager involved ensures teamwork among all healthcare professionals treating the patient. Nurses receive training in working with interdisciplinary teams and have the skills to attend to a patient’s psychosocial needs. This combination makes them ideal candidates to serve as effective nurse case managers.
In this article, we will explore:
- What is a nurse case manager?
- What are the job responsibilities?
- What are the steps to becoming a nurse case manager?
- What are the certifications for nurse case managers?
- What are the salary and job outlooks?
What is a nurse case manager?
Nurse case managers are registered nurses (RNs) who work with patients and providers to oversee a specific care plan for patients. Since the 2010 Affordable Care Act passage, there has been renewed focus placed on preventative healthcare designed to cut costs and improve patient outcomes. They must communicate and collaborate with several medical specialties to ensure their patients receive top-notch medical care.
The healthcare needs of each patient correlate with their underlying health conditions. Nurse case managers inspect each patient case, determine the best course of action for delivering quality care, and then act as patient advocates to ensure the care plan is carried out efficiently.
What are the job responsibilities?
Nurse case managers go beyond acting as simple advocates for patients. They have several other job responsibilities. While every employer is different, nursing professionals who choose to work in this specialized field can expect to carry out some or all these tasks:
- Act as a liaison between patients and insurance providers to ensure care is covered at an affordable price
- Book doctor appointments and follow-up care for patients with the appropriate member of their medical care team
- Develop and manage long-term healthcare plans for patients with chronic conditions or serious illnesses
- Serve as a resource for patients, offering education and guidance on complex medical conditions and the best treatment options available
What are the steps to becoming a nurse case manager?
Nursing candidates must complete several steps before they can work as nurse case managers. The first step in the process is to graduate from an accredited nursing program. You have the choice between earning an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Either will get you to the second step in the process, which is to earn your RN certification by passing the NCLEX-RN exam.
Once you become a licensed RN, gaining nursing experience is the next step in your quest to becoming a nurse case manager. A minimum of five years of experience as an RN is recommended. Ideally, RNs should seek out positions that specialize in case management. Working in clinics, hospitals, and private medical practices can help aspiring nurse case managers gain the knowledge needed to move onto the final step in the process: certification.
What are the nurse case manager certifications?
Nurse case manager certification is not required by all healthcare employers to work in the field. Applicants with certifications relevant to case management may have an advantage over candidates who do not have one. There are four options for nurse case manager certification:
The CCMC offers advanced certification to nurse case managers who meet eligibility requirements. There are three categories of criteria outlined on the CCMC website. Candidates must meet the guidelines within one of the three categories to qualify for the certification.
2. American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)
To qualify for certification with the ANCC, candidates must hold a current RN license, have two years of experience as a full-time RN, completed 2,000 hours of clinical practice in nursing case management, and earned 30 hours of continuing education in nurse case management.
3. American Case Management Association (ACMA)
The ACMA offers certification to nurses who meet specific criteria, including a valid RN licensure, paid work experience as a case manager or similar role, and 2,080 hours of supervised work.
4. American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN)
The AAACN offers the Certification in Care Coordination and Transition Management (CCCTM) for nursing candidates with a current RN license who have at least two years as an RN in a care coordination and management role. Applicants must also have accrued 2,000 hours of care coordination or transition management practice as an RN to qualify.
What are the salary and job outlooks?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not specifically track nurse case managers. They include their data under the general umbrella of RNs. According to PayScale, nurse case managers can expect to earn an average annual salary of $74,051. Another career site, Indeed, listed the highest-paying cities for nurse case managers as:
- Las Vegas, NV – $79,697
- Dallas, TX – $77,141
As the population continues to age, the demand for nurse case managers will increase. The BLS estimates a 32% increase in the need for qualified healthcare professionals, with RNs of all specialties enjoying a 7% increase.
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