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The nursing profession is far more diverse than most aspiring health care workers realize. Bedside nursing tends to receive the bulk of the attention, but this is just one of many areas in which hardworking professionals can promote both individual and community health.

Case management represents a dramatically different — but equally compelling — opportunity. It is widely misunderstood even among current health care workers, however. To demystify this exciting field, we have highlighted its current realities, plus its outlook in terms of both employment numbers and compensation.

What Is Case Management in Nursing?

The concept of case management extends through all areas of the health care sector, where it can mean different things according to the niche for which it is required. The Code of Professional Conduct for Case Managers provides a helpful overview of case management’s top objectives: support the Institute for Healthcare Improvements mission to provide “patient-care experiences, reduced healthcare costs, and improved population health.”

What Does a Nurse Case Manager Do?

If you have tired of the demands of bedside nursing but still want to make your mark in the healthcare field, nursing case management could be the niche for you. Instead of focusing on bedside care, you can expect to focus on the behind-the-scenes considerations of which many patients — and even experienced health care professionals — are often entirely unaware.

While job duties vary based on the patient population and the health care staff you serve, the following are a few examples of tasks you may be charged with handling:

  • Make hospice arrangements for patients who prefer to transition to comfort care.
  • Help patients acquire tools or equipment (such as oxygen) they might need as they transition from medical facilities to home or long-term care.
  • Secure transportation for discharged patients as they head home or seek care from other facilities.
  • Send physician referrals to various facilities to determine which locations will accept specific patients.

Many RN case managers compare their work to a big, professional puzzle they are in charge of completing. This puzzle may encompass many moving parts, such as transitioning patients, medical equipment, insurance coverage, and more. A capable nurse case manager can ensure that these elements fit together to promote the best possible health outcomes while also improving patient satisfaction.

Continuity of care is a big deal in nurse case management, so these professionals must work closely with many other types of health care employees. This includes not only other registered nurses, but also, physicians, administrative staff, physical therapists, occupational therapists, home health nurses, and other specialists.

Where Do Nurse Case Managers Work?

Nurse case management is one of the most versatile niches within the healthcare field, as these professionals can be employed in many settings. The following work environments are especially common:

  • Work-from-home. Remote job opportunities can be difficult to come by in the field of nursing, but case management delivers compelling opportunities for those who prefer to work from the comfort of home. This approach is sometimes referred to as telephonic case management. Many case managers work in this capacity for major health care systems, but some actually own their own businesses.
  • Patient homes. In-home case management is common, with some employees traveling to visit patients after they have been discharged from hospitals or other health care facilities. This approach is popular, in part, because research suggests that case manager visits can dramatically improve quality of life for chronically ill patients.
  • Medical facilities. Some RN case managers may be needed onsite to complete daily rounds. The insight they gain from these routines may influence discharge planning. Onsite initiatives can also be helpful for case managers who work closely with physicians and other healthcare professionals.

Job Outlook for Nurse Case Managers

The field of health care, in general, boasts an impressive job outlook, making it easier than ever for ambitious professionals to find work in their niche of choice. This is evident based on Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projections for registered nurses (who enjoy a reasonable outlook of 9 percent between 2020 and 2030) and is even more clear for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners (who boast an outlook of 45 percent in the next decade).

How to Become a Nurse Case Manager

The path to becoming a nurse case manager often looks considerably different than the professional trajectory for bedside nurses. Still, both pursuits share much in common, including the need for strong academic training and hard work.

Earn an MSN in Nurse Case Management

Case management requires a skill set above and beyond bedside nursing. An in-depth understanding of health care policy is crucial, as is familiarity with the complications of modern health care coverage, not to mention pharmacology and pathophysiology.

While some on-the-job learning can be expected, aspiring RN case managers will find it far easier to make the leap from bedside nursing after completing a dedicated master’s program. An advanced degree such as the MSN in Nurse Case Management is an ideal option, as it encompasses patient care plan development, quality improvement, and many other topics relevant to aspiring case managers.

Pursue an Exciting RN Case Manager Career with the American Sentinel College of Nursing & Health Science at Post University

Ready to take your nursing career to the next level? If you envision yourself as an RN case manager, equip yourself with the skills needed to excel in this exciting niche. Look at the Nurse Case Management specialization in the MSN program to provide targeted training.

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Please note jobs, career outcomes, and/or salaries highlighted in this blog do not reflect jobs, career outcomes, and/or salaries expected from any Post program. To learn more about Post’s program and their outcomes, please fill out a form to speak with an admissions representative.