A four-year bachelor's degree program in social work, which contains case management content, is designed for high school or GED graduates entering the field. Part of many degree programs includes fieldwork in a social service agency or related organization as part of the program requirements.
Earning a certificate in case management signifies mastery of case management techniques and theory to employers, and can normally be achieved in 6-8 weeks. For acceptance into the program, applicants must already have a bachelor's degree and experience working in the healthcare or social services industry.
Master's degree, including Master's degree in Nursing Case Management, are also programs intended for experienced workers, who already earned a bachelor's degree in a related field of study. For the Master's degree in Nursing Case Management, students will need to be a registered nurse (RN) and have a bachelor's degree in nursing. Earning a masters degree typically takes 2 years.
Practical work can help students get experience in case management. The need for licensure will depend on the career path a student chooses.
Bachelor's Degree Programs in Social Work
Bachelor's degree programs in social work provide a well-rounded base of knowledge for those aspiring to become case managers in settings such as community service agencies or health care facilities. Case managers work to plan and coordinate consistent quality care for patients and clients, and bachelor's programs in social work examine relevant topics like client interviewing, assessment, case management, crisis intervention and community outreach.
The curriculum for these programs focuses on problem solving techniques, how to improve the lives of clients and how to help develop social policies. Typical course topics may be:
- Social welfare programs, policies and issues
- Social work research methods
- Human behavior and the social environment
- Social justice
- Social work statistics
- Social work practice with individuals and families
Certificate Programs in Case Management
For healthcare professionals and social workers, another path to case management is through a certificate program in case management. These programs teach students to allocate budget dollars in order to get the most out of available resources. They also cover how to work collaboratively with clients, their families and their care providers.
The course curriculum is designed to prepare professionals for new career outlets in their field. Course topics may be:
- Effective case management in the community
- Effective case management in healthcare systems
- Clinical ethics
- Life care planning
- Physical and psychological factors
- Legal responsibilities
Master's Degree Programs in Nursing Case Management
Experienced RNs can train to become case managers through master's programs in nursing case management. The curriculum for these programs is designed to develop students' critical thinking, planning and decision-making skills in order to prepare them to become effective leaders in the constantly changing healthcare industry. A master's degree in nursing case management can normally be obtained in 2 years of full-time study. To be accepted into the program, a prospective student must be a licensed RN with clinical work experience and a bachelor's degree in nursing.
Coursework is designed to help students gain the ability to create the highest quality patient care while utilizing techniques in cost-effectiveness. Typical course topics may include:
- Analysis of health policy
- Financing in health care
- Evaluation and quality assurance methods
- Research methods in case management
- Management in healthcare delivery systems
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that the employment of social workers would rise by 12% between 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). This growth is due to an increasingly aging population and a need for healthcare social workers. According to the BLS, the median salary for social workers was $45,900 as of 2015.
Popular Career Choices
Upon completion of the program students are prepared to enter into careers in case management. Case managers are in high-demand, as many organizations realize the value they have in helping to create a smoothly running operation and improve client's resources. While job titles are often labeled as case manager, these kinds of professionals may take on a variety of roles, including:
- Community organizer
Continuing Education, Licensure and Advancement
Completing a bachelor's program in social work qualifies graduates for entry-level work in the mental health field, as case managers, mental health assistants, and related positions. Many graduates choose to pursue a master's degree in social work in order to advance to higher-level positions and qualify to become licensed clinical social workers (LCSW). Advanced degrees are also required for positions in research, teaching and consulting.
Many states have optional licensure for nonclinical social workers, and all states regulate the licensure of clinical social workers. Most states require that, to become a LCSW, individuals must possess a master's degree in social work, acquire 2 years of supervised clinical experience and pass an exam, according to the BLS.
Individuals wanting to become social workers and case managers should look into one of the many types of case management training programs. These programs are offered at the bachelor's degree, post graduate certificate and master's degree levels, and can prepare students for LCSW licensure.