What is a Nurse Case Manager?

A job as a nurse case manager can be an excellent alternative to providing bedside care. Nurses in this position advocate for patients on a long-term basis by providing comprehensive services and coordination. Although this nursing specialty is not well-known, it is quickly becoming a vital part of the healthcare system, and demand for nursing case managers will grow rapidly.

What Do Nurse Case Managers Do?

As healthcare needs become increasingly complex, nurses are beginning to work alongside medical social workers to provide care management services for patients. In this role, nurses empower patients to maintain their maximum level of health after hospital discharge. Nurse case managers connect patients with resources to provide emotional, mental or physical care, teach patients the skills needed for self-management of healthcare issues, and assist patients with following prescribed medication plans. Nurses in this role provide a valuable service to patients by offering ongoing assistance for long-term health promotion. Another primary task for case managers is keeping costs low and insurance reimbursements on-track, which provides financial benefits to their employers. Nurse case managers offer amazing benefits to patients and healthcare agencies.

How Are Nurse Case Managers Different from Social Workers?

At some hospitals, social workers and nurse case managers fulfill similar roles, but this overlooks the unique strengths of each profession. Social workers offer mental health counseling and emotional management, while nurses are experts at health-related concerns. Nurses with psychiatric experience can also offer these services, but nurse case managers shine when assisting patients with medication management, wound care and healthcare navigation.

How to Become a Nurse Case Manager

To adequately care for patients and navigate the administrative duties of a case manager, nurses should have an RN license. In order to become a registered nurse, you’ll need to attend several years of school, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To be a stronger case manager, you can seek out additional courses in social work,  psychology and human services. Some schools offer certificates or minors in case management that will you the necessary skills to become a case manager. Learning an additional language will provide more options for your career by allowing you to help a wider range of patients.

Education isn’t the only thing you’ll need to enter case management. Most positions want experienced nurses with several years of work history. Specializing in chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiology or mental health issues is helpful, as is gerontology experience. As a nursing student, you can earn your Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) license and work part-time to build your resume. You can also volunteer with social service agencies to learn about the different options your clients can use. Once you’ve completed your degree and gained adequate experience, you can sit the exam for a certification in nursing case management, according to the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Related Resource: Licensed Practical Nurse

Although case management isn’t as hands-on as bedside nursing, it still provides an excellent avenue for fulfilling the values of the nursing profession. As a nurse case manager, you’ll use a holistic approach to care for patients at the physical, emotional and medical level.