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How To Become A Nurse Case Manager
Do you have your sights set on becoming a nurse case manager? Are you ready to work hard, study hard, and reap the benefits of this lucrative and rewarding career?
We'll show you what steps are needed and will also discuss how much you can make, where you'll work, and what your responsibilities will be.
What are Nurse Case Managers?
A registered nurse case manager, also known as an RN case manager and case management nurse, is a type of registered nurse (RN) that works closely with both patients and healthcare providers to determine the best options for a patient.
Case managers are advocates, educators, and healthcare specialists. They work as part of a healthcare team with the goal of improving patient outcomes. Most of their workload focuses on high-risk patients suffering from chronic or serious conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and COPD.
What Do Nurse Case Managers Do?
A patient's needs can vary greatly, as they may be suffering from an array of physical and mental ailments while dealing with unique personal circumstances. A nurse manager must take all of these needs into account when trying to find the best care solutions.
Some of the duties performed by nurse case managers include:
- Identify a patient's needs and ensure they are met by connecting them with available resources
- Screen patients to determine their healthcare needs
- Improve outcomes for patients with high-risk conditions
- Work closely with other healthcare professionals
- Assist with transferring patients to other facilities
- Oversee the patient discharge process
- Follow-up with discharged patients
- Provide patient education and guidance
- Work with the patient's family to educate and support
- Develop and implement case management plans
- Teach patients about self-care
- Decrease hospital visits for high-risk patients
- Book doctors' appointments for discharged patients
Where Do RN Case Managers Work?
If you qualify as a case manager, you can apply for positions in healthcare settings and in the corporate world. You will work wherever improved healthcare efficiency and patient outcomes are required, including
- Insurance Providers
- Palliative Care Clinics
- Long-term Care Facilities
- Medical Supply Companies
- Health Centers
- Oncology Centers
- Home Healthcare Employers
- Outpatient Clinics
- Government Agencies
What are the Steps to Becoming a Nurse Case Manager?
Ready to start the long journey to becoming a nurse care manager? Follow these steps:
Step One: Graduate from an Accredited Nursing Program
Before you can qualify as a registered nurse, you must complete an undergraduate program. You can apply with either an associate degree in nurse (ADN) or a bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN). The latter will give you more options and allow you to advance your career further. However, it will also add a couple of years to your study.
Step Two: Become an RN
The National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) is an adaptive test that costs $200. Upon completion, you'll be given an RN license and can advance to the next step.
Step Three: Get Some Nursing Experience
Once you have an active RN license, you're ready to get a job and acquire some nursing experience.
You will need at least 5 years of experience and some of that should be relevant.
5 years is a long time, but you'll be working, earning, and improving throughout that time. You'll also have something to add to your resume.
More importantly, this experience will drop you into the heart of the nursing profession and either cement your desire to become a nurse case manager or change your mind completely.
Step Four: Become Certified
There are a few different certifications available for case management nurses. Completing one of these should be your next step.
American Case Management Association (ACM)
The ACM certification deals with case management as it pertains to facilities that deal with health delivery systems. It tests students on their critical thinking skills and their ability to apply knowledge in a practical setting.
To apply, you must have a valid nursing license and at least 1 year of supervised paid work in nurse case management.
Certification in Care Coordination and Transition Management Practice (CCCTM)
The CCCTM is administered by the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board. It's a new certification but is still a valid option that should be considered.
You must hold an active RN license and have worked for over 2,000 hours in care coordination or transition management.
ANCC Nurse Case Manager Certification (RN-BC)
The RN-BC is offered to nurse case managers with at least 2,000 hours of clinical practice acquired during the last three years. They must also have practiced for 2 years as a registered nurse and completed 30 hours of continuing education in care management.
The Commission for Case Manager Certification (CCMC)
The CCMC offers case manager certification to students who meet one of the following requirements:
- At least one year of case management employment experience supervised by a board-certified case manager, or
- At least 2 years of case management experience without supervision, or
- 12 months of experience as a case manager supervisor
All necessary experience must be completed within the United States, including the US territories.
Step Five: Start Work!
Now that you're fully qualified and certified, you're ready to start working as a nurse case manager!
It has been estimated that the need for registered nurses will increase by 9% by 2030 and there are nearly 200,000 new jobs popping up every single year. That's a lot of potential, and while there's no guarantee that you'll find the job you want, you shouldn't have to look too long to find a suitable role.
FAQs About Nurse Case Managers
If you still have some questions about the how's, where's, and why's of case management nurses, check out the following FAQS.
Will I Make a Good Nurse Case Manager?
Nurse case managers work with multiple patients and support them throughout the time that they remain under their charge.
They are good listeners and communicators. They are supportive, understanding, and reliable. They are also good leaders and can deal with a lot of stress and responsibility.
If all of that fits your personality then nurse case management could be the perfect career!
Is Registered Nurse Case Manager a Good Profession?
It is a very good profession, but only if it's right for you.
The pay is good and you'll get to work with qualified healthcare teams in an array of different facilities. But if you want to adopt more of a hands-on role with regards to patient care, and you lack the necessary leadership and management skills, it might not be the profession for you.
How Much Does a Nurse Case Manager Make?
Nurse case managers can expect to make an average of between $70,000 and $90,000 a year depending on location, experience, and employer.
According to the US Bureau Of Labor Statistics, the mean average is $80,010 a year or $38,47 an hour while the top 10% of employees earn an average of $116,230.
However, this applies to registered nurses on the whole and not exclusively to nurse case managers. The BLS does not have any data specific to types of RNs.
Do Nurse Case Managers Make More Than Other Nurses?
As a case manager, you can expect to earn a similar wage to other RNs working in the same organization and with the same level of experience.
If you have any specializations or a lot of experience, you can earn more than the average RN, but generally speaking, you'll be in a similar wage bracket.
It's a good wage, but it's far from the most you can earn in the healthcare industry or even the nursing profession.
The average wage for nurse practitioners (NP) is on a similar level to the highest wage earned by RNs. What's more, if you specialize as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist or another high-paying specialist, you can earn over $150,000 and even over $200,000 a year.
Of course, it's all relative to the amount of time and money that you spend on your education. NPs can certainly make a lot more money, but you'll need to spend a few more years in school.
What is the Outlook Like for Case Management Nurses?
As with most healthcare professions, there is a great demand for nurse case managers right now and that need is expected to rise as the healthcare industry continues to expand.
The events of the last few years have caused many to burn out and turn their backs on the sector. This has also placed a lot of stress on the industry and highlighted the need for highly-qualified individuals at all levels of care. The nursing shortage might not last forever, but it will still be evident by the time you finish school.
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