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Case management nurses are among the only nurses who rarely or never provide direct patient care. Instead, case management nurses do as their job suggests: they manage patient care on a case-by-case basis, ensuring that patients' needs are being met by the medical facility and its medical team. Particularly, case management nurses manage the cases of patients with serious injuries and severe or chronic illnesses.
In their day-to-day jobs, case managers do the following:
- Seek cost-effective treatments for patients
- Manage records of patients who often are treated by numerous healthcare facilities
- Encourage patient self-managed care, yet ensure patients have access to services they need
- Communicate with patients, their families, and any medical care providers working with the patient
While some case manager nurses work with patients with a variety of ailments or injuries, many specialize in a particular type of patient. These include children, AIDS patients, cancer patients, and those with spinal cord injuries.
Case management nurses must have excellent verbal and written communication skills, as they regularly interact with patients and their families as well as a team of doctors, nurses, and medical care administrators. For the same reason, they must be willing and able to work collaboratively in a team setting. They must be detail-oriented and highly organized, tactful, and have the ability to make sound decisions about emotional issues.
The income for case management nurses is comparable to that of other registered nurses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), registered nurses earned a median annual salary of $62,450 in 2008. Of these, the highest 10 percent earned a median salary of $92,240, while the lowest 10 percent earned $43,410. Case management nurses are often employed in hospitals, where registered nurses earned a mean annual salary of $66,490 in 2008.
A majority of case management nurse jobs are found in larger cities. The five top-paying metropolitan areas for nurses, including case management nurses, were all found in California. The 2008 mean salaries for registered nurses in these cities ranged between $88,970 and $104,400. But although pay is higher in these metropolitan areas, living expenses are often high as well.
Training and Education
Case management nurses must first become registered nurses. To become an RN, you must complete one of three programs of study:
- A bachelor's of science in nursing (BSN), which generally takes four years to complete
- An associate's degree in nursing (ADN), which takes two to three years to complete
- A hospital-based diploma program, which usually lasts for three years.
Degree and diploma programs require classroom courses, as well as supervised clinical practice. In addition to completing one of these programs, you must pass the national license examination for registered nurses, the NCLEX-RN.
To become a Certified Case Manager (CCM), you must become certified through the Commission for Case Manager Certification (CCMC). Passing the certified case manager examination, administered by CCMC, is required. You must apply to the CCMC before you may take the CCM examination.
According to the BLS, there were over 2.5 million RNs, including case management nurses, working in the U.S. in 2008. The main employers of nurses included hospitals, doctors' offices, home health care service providers, employment services, and nursing homes, but most case management nurses work in hospitals.
Job opportunities for all registered nurses, including case management nurses, are expected to grow dramatically between 2006 and 2016. The BLS predicts job growth to be 23 percent during this period. Increasing demands to control costs and to better manage care in medical facilities could positively impact job prospects for case management nurses, specifically. A large aging population could also contribute to this growing demand.About the Author
Candice Mancini is a freelance writer and a teacher of AP English literature and college writing. She has an M.A. in Education and a B.A. in English and history.