What Is a Nurse Case Manager? (With Skills and Salary Info)
Updated February 3, 2023
If working closely with patients in and out of a medical facility appeals to you, you might consider a career as a nurse case manager. This can be a fulfilling position for many because it allows you to develop long-term relationships with patients while you help them improve their quality of life. Learning more about this job and its common qualifications can help you decide whether it's a good fit for you.
In this article, we discuss what a case manager is by describing their primary duties, skills, qualifications and average salary.
What does a nurse case manager do?
A nurse case manager is a medical employee who coordinates the long-term care of patients. They update patient care plans according to the patient's condition and educate them and their families on how to follow the plan. Some nurse case managers work in health care facilities, such as hospitals, long-term care centers, community health centers or oncology outpatient facilities. Others may work in settings like insurance companies, home health care organizations or government agencies. Regardless of where they work, their other primary responsibilities may include:
Evaluating patients and implementing health care plans for them
Revising health care plans as necessary based on assessments
Explaining the health care plan to the patient and their family, along with the care options they may have
Making clinical decisions while conducting routine care for patients
Accurately documenting and submitting medical records
Creating and maintaining an environment for open communication
Reviewing the results of medical tests
Following physician orders and implementing other nursing procedures
Continually assessing the patient to understand their needs fully
Actively demonstrating their knowledge of patient care, including administering medication, monitoring the patient for symptoms, performing diagnostic procedures and conducting other types of treatments
Common skills for nurse case managers
Nurse case managers use a combination of hard and soft skills to succeed in their roles. Some of the most common ones they possess include:
Communication: Nurse case managers educate patients and families about the patient's care plan, and strong written and verbal communication skills help them achieve this. Listening skills are also critical because actively listen to patients to understand any symptoms or concerns they have.
Organization: Nurse case managers often work with multiple patients at one time, creating treatment plans for them in and out of the medical facility. They use strong organizational skills to be able to manage multiple treatment courses effectively.
Problem-solving: Nurse case managers evaluate a patient's condition and create or revise the health treatment plan based on their assessment. They use strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills to come up with the most effective treatment, tResearch: To provide the best possible care for patients, nurse case managers research medical conditions independently or look into complex insurance matters.
Teamwork: Nurse case managers often work with other medical staff at their facility to create and implement treatment plans for patients. Because of this, being able to work effectively in a team and delegate tasks is important in this role.
Patient advocacy: Patients often respond better to treatment and are more willing to follow plans if they respect and trust their case manager. Being able to empower and advocate for patients can help ensure they get the best possible care and improve patient outcomes.
Read more: Case Manager Skills: Definition and Examples
Qualifications for nurse case managers
Although facilities may have different requirements for case manager candidates, here are some common qualifications they have that help them succeed in this role:
Registered nurse license
Prospective nurse managers first earn a registered nurse (RN) license, which they can get after completing a nursing program. Registered nursing programs typically are available through colleges and universities and take about four years to complete, though some accelerated programs are available. Aspiring registered nurses complete coursework in anatomy, physiology, general microbiology, pharmacology across lifespans and public health. Besides their time in the classroom, nursing programs also include a clinical component that lets students gain experience and observe other nurses within hospitals, clinics or other medical facilities.
After completing an accredited nursing program, graduates then pass the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The exam focuses on four areas of practice: safe, effective care environment, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity and physiological integrity.
Many employers prefer to hire nurse case managers who have at least one or two years of professional nursing experience. If you're a recent graduate, consider looking for an entry-level nursing position, preferably in an area of nursing you're most interested in working with patients. Employers also commonly prefer candidates who have professional experience in case management, discharge planning or utilization reviews, so try to look for any opportunities to gain experience in those areas.
Although employers rarely require nurse case managers to have certification, many of them pursue them to help improve their skills and credentials. Pursuing relevant certifications also can help you look like a more appealing candidate to hiring managers, which can improve your chances of receiving an interview and job offer. Some common certifications for nurse case managers include:
Nursing case management certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center
Accredited case management certification from the American Case Management Association
Certified case manager from the Commission for Case Manager Certification
Certification in care coordination and transition management from the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board
Salary and job outlook for nurse case managers
Nurse case managers earn an average salary of $77,011 per year. This figure can vary depending on several factors, such as the manager's experience, certification, specialization, location and employer. People in this role also earn some common benefits to supplement their salary, including 401(k) matching, health savings accounts, loan repayment programs, paid time off and employee stock purchase plans.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies nurse case managers as medical and health services managers, and the agency expects this field to have a 28% increase by 2031, a rate that's four times higher than the national average for all occupations. This means you may have several opportunities to find a job in this field, and you may have high job security. The agency attributes this growth to the aging baby-boom population, which might increase the demand for all health care services.
For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link provided.
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