If you’re interested in a healthcare career focused on advocacy and problem-solving, then case management might be the right fit for you. Case managers work in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals and other acute care facilities, to coordinate complex care decisions and develop personal care plans for clients. Joining this field requires an existing background in patient care, plus some additional steps.
Steps to Become a Case Manager
Becoming a case manager requires several steps, since it is generally a continuation of or a specialization of an existing nursing career.
To start with, a nursing case manager must be a registered nurse (RN). For many nurses, this means earning an undergraduate degree such as a bachelor of science in nursing. Other RNs may start their careers with an associate’s degree in nursing or a diploma from an accredited nursing program. After earning that degree, RNs must also pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses and get licensed in the state where they intend to practice.
RNs then may choose to pursue a specialty like case management. Unlike entering the RN field, there is not one single path or licensure that every case manager must pass in order to take on this new role. Instead, aspiring case managers may take any number of paths to attain the education necessary to pursue this area of interest. They may take advantage of continuing education opportunities offered by their current employer or pursue online education on their own. Later, they may pursue a specific certification or accreditation offered by one organization or another, each with its own unique education and testing requirements.
Once fully trained, case managers may then look for a new position. They may find their new job through networking and word-of-mouth, through more traditional job postings, or through working with a recruiting service that matches job seekers with organizations that have similar open roles.
Accreditations for Case Management
Several organizations offer certifications or accreditations for case managers.
The most popular or “gold standard” is the Certified Case Manager (CCM) certification. Offered by the Commission for Case Manager Certification (CCMC), the first organization to create a case manager certification, the CCM certification is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). It requires candidates to pass an exam, once they have one of a handful of existing licensures (the most common being RN or LCSW, but any licensure that allows for independent evaluation of a patient should qualify) or significant field work along with a college degree; have experience in the case management field; and meet the CCMC code of conduct.
Another option is the Accredited Case Manager (ACM) certification. Offered by the America Case Manager Association (ACMA), this credential is tailored at a narrower set of professionals. RNs and social workers are eligible to pursue this certification, which is designed for health delivery system and transitions of care (TOC) case management professionals. To achieve the certification, candidates must be actively licensed in their field, have at least a year or two of supervised case management experience, and pass an exam.
For those focusing on nursing specifically, the Nursing Case Management Certification (CMGT-BC) may be a good fit. In order to be eligible to sit the exam, candidates must be active RNs with at least two years of full-time experience, as well as meet a benchmark for case management clinical practice and continuing education hours.
Regardless of which path candidates choose, getting a recognized certification can be a major asset while job-seeking. It demonstrates experience, knowledge, and dedication to the career – all critical components to providing the best possible care for the clients who trust them.
by Michelle Boeckmann
About the Author
Michelle Boeckmann, Founder of Healthcare Recruitment Partners, has over twelve years of experience placing seasoned leadership Case Management candidates in acute care hospitals and healthcare systems. She and her team, along with a database of over 32,000 professionals and counting, can give you an advantage in a competitive market, whether you’re looking for highly specialized talent or a need for a placement for an open position quickly and discreetly.