Within the nursing field, opportunities for job promotion and advancement aren’t as common as most people think. Most nurses work on a fairly level playing field, and although you might choose to specialize, chances are you won’t actually adopt a supervisory role without a real effort to get there.
One area in which you can set yourself apart and take on more responsibilities and management roles within the nursing field is to become an RN case manager.
What is an RN Case Manager?
Nursing case managers typically take a step back from being a hands-on care provider toward more administrative work. They oversee the admissions process for patients who need recurring care, often developing and coordinating plans for long-term outcomes. Similar to social work, in that the RN case manager works with an entire lifetime of care (and often in conjunction with other health and social services), there is nevertheless a much heavier medical focus.
Within a daily capacity, an RN case manager might:
- Act as a liaison and advocate for patients, families, and the health care system
- Create overarching care plans
- Refer and admit patients
- Coordinate medications
- Provide/coordinate therapy and treatments
- Evaluate plans and staff members
- Dispense medical advice
Case managers work in hospitals, home health care organizations, nursing homes, hospices, insurance companies, and busy medical offices. Hospice and home health care are among the top employers for this type of work, since it is necessary to coordinate a long-term care plan that involves doctors, other nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and other care providers.
How to Become an RN Case Manager
First of all, all case managers must first become practicing nurses by attending a nursing school and getting the appropriate degrees and licenses. It’s typically best to have one or two years of experience before branching out into case management, though this isn’t always the case. There are some one-year programs that teach nurse case management above and beyond a two or four-year nursing degree, though these aren’t required to enter the profession, either.
The only accrediting body for case management is the American Case Management Association. Certification is voluntary, and requires the successful completion of their exam as well as meeting standards in education and work experience (2,000 hours of clinical practice and 30 hours of continuing education related to case management). There is also an annual fee to keep the certification current, and you can also opt for participation in the annual Association events.