shutterstock_108802904With many nursing careers, caring for a patient for only a short time is generally the norm. However, if you want a rewarding nursing career that allows you to work with patients in the long-term, a case management nursing career might be the perfect choice. This type of career enables you to help patients and doctors coordinate, implement, and oversee care plans over the course of an illness. in fact, it is not unheard of for a case management nurse to be with patients from the start of their injuries or illnesses to the end.

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What is a Case Management Nurse?
What do Case Management Nurses Do?
Where do Case Management Nurses Work?
How do I Become a Case Management Nurse?

What is a Case Management Nurse?

A case management nurse is a type of nurse that is instrumental in creating and implementing the treatment of patients in healthcare settings. These types of nurses often collaborate with other medical professionals, such as doctors, to help ensure that patients get the medical care that they need.

Medical care plans are outlines or summaries or the types of medical care and treatments that patients should receive. Case management nurses help create these plans with a number of things in mind. First and foremost, a care plan is based on the type of injury or illness that a person is suffering from. medical professionals creating care plans will also take a patient’s medical history, including allergies and risk factors for other illnesses, into consideration when creating care plans. Other aspects that may help determine a patient’s course of treatment include their health insurance plan, prognosis, and needs and wants of both the patient and their loved ones.

Individuals who wish to become case management nurses will often specialize in one area. Generally, case management nurses are more prominent in specialties that require patients to receive long-term care, such as those with chronic illnesses or long-term care needs. If you choose to work as a case management nurse, for example, you might work with patients suffering from cancer, diabetes, AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, physical disabilities, and debilitating mental impairments, just to name a few. However, there is also a place for case management nurses in medical specialties that do not deal with just chronically ill patients.

What do Case Management Nurses Do?

The duties of case management nurses are diverse and somewhat complex. On one hand, these nurses are required to keep the best interests of the patient in mind at all times. On the other, they must also keep in mind the limits of medical science as well as the bureaucracy of the facilities in which they work.

First, a case management nurse will usually assess a patient and consult with other medical professionals such as attending physicians. From there, the medical team can devise a care plan based partly on the patient’s medical problems and history, and partly on the wants and needs of the patient and his loved ones.

Since a “one-size-fits-all”approach to treating medical approach is not feasible, each individual patient’s care plan will be different, even if just slightly. Because of this, a case management nurse must take a patient’s medical history into consideration when creating an effective and safe care plan. For example, some patients are allergic to or may have had a bad reaction to some substances, and therefore can not be treated with certain medications. The wants and needs of patients will vary greatly as well. Some patients, for instance, may have other obligations that make scheduling treatments and doctor visits somewhat difficult, while others may have limited means of transportation or mobility issues. Planning a medical treatment plan around the wants and needs of the patients greatly increases the effectiveness of the plans.

It is also often up to the case management nurse to inform and support each patient throughout the course of their treatment. They might keep them abreast of different treatment options, for example, or inform them of various resources that they might employ during their medical care. This type of information and support enables patients to be more proactive about their medical decisions.

Medical care plans are periodically reevaluated by case management nurses and other members of the medical teams. Case management nurses must stay on top of any changes in a patient’s condition or lifestyle that will affect treatment. If changes are made in a patient’s condition or lifestyle, the case management nurse will often need to update the case management plan to reflect and accommodate these changes.

Where do Case Management Nurses Work?

Almost all medical facilities employ case management nurses. This includes facilities such as hospitals, clinics, and private practices. As a case management nurse, you might also find yourself working in facilities that specifically cater to individuals with chronic medical issues or long-term care needs. These types of medical settings include nursing homes, hospice care facilities, and home healthcare companies.

How do I Become a Case Management Nurse?

Although there are no stringent guidelines for becoming a case management nurse, the majority of employers will look for a few basic things before hiring a case management nurse.

  1. Education and training
  2. Experience
  3. Certification

The first step you must take if you want to become a case management nurse is obtaining the right education and training. Generally, you must first be a Registered Nurse (RN) before you can move up. This usually involves getting your nursing degree and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

Below is the educational path for a Case Manager

Educational TrackSchool ProgramsAverage Education LengthChoosing Online or Campus
Earn a Bachelors DegreeView Programs4 Years Online or Campus
Earn a MSN DegreeView Programs2 Additional YearsOnline or Campus
Earn a PHD or DNPView Programs2-4 Additional YearsOnline or Campus

Extensive experience in a clinical setting is not always required, but almost all employers will only hire case management nurses with hands-on experience. This usually involves at least two years of working with patients in a clinical setting.

Finally, not all case management nurses have to be certified, but certification will certainly help your chances of getting hired for this position. There are a couple agencies that offer case management nurse certification, including the American Case Management Association (ACMA) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Obtaining your certification in this area usually involves completing several hours of classroom education, practical training, and clinical experience. Once you’ve completed all of the requirements, you will then be eligible to sit for a case management nurse certification exam.

Further Resources For Case Management Nurses

  1. Case Management Society of America
  2. Care Management Journal
  3. Understanding Case Management