Be an RN Case Manager: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become an RN case manager. Research the education requirements, licensure information, and experience required for starting a career in RN case management.

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  • 0:01 Become an RN Case Manager
  • 1:04 Career Requirements
  • 1:34 RN Case Manager Career Steps

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Become an RN Case Manager

Registered nurse (RN) case managers, or case management RNs, coordinate patient care and access to services. These managers still work as registered nurses, but additionally take on the responsibility of delegating cases and setting schedules for the nurse team, in addition to other administrative duties. Generally speaking, case managers often serve in a supervisory capacity, as they must become marginally familiar with most cases in order to ensure patients receive the care they need.

RN case managers work in settings such as hospitals, medical offices, and insurance companies. Those that interact with patients may be exposed to infectious diseases. RN case managers work at least full-time, with overtime being reported as common. Schedules may include 12-hour shifts, evening, night, and weekend hours. The job can be highly rewarding emotionally and mentally, but very stressful as workloads are often quite heavy.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Associate's or bachelor's
Degree Field Nursing
Experience At least one year of related experience
Licensure and Certification Registered nursing license required; Certified Case Manager certification may be preferred
Key Skills Interpersonal communication, benefits management, organizational skills, critical thinking, and decision making; experience with database, medical, spreadsheet, word processing and e-mail software; knowledge of medical equipment
Median Salary (2015)* $94,500 ( for all medical and health service managers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics*, Commission for Case Manager Certification, job postings (September 2012), O*Net

Interpersonal communication, benefits management, organizational skills, critical thinking, and decision making skills are all important for RN case managers to have. They also need experience with database, medical, spreadsheet, word processing and e-mail software along with knowledge of medical equipment. The median wage for all medical and health service managers was $94,500 in May 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

RN Case Manager Career Steps

Let's discuss the steps you can follow to become an RN case manager.

Step 1: Complete a Postsecondary Nursing Program

Several colleges offer nursing programs leading to an associate's or bachelor's degree. Accredited 2-year nursing programs generally qualify candidates to seek credentialing as a registered nurse. The expanded training provided by a 4-year program leading to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree may be preferred by employers when considering hires for case management RN positions.

Step 2: Become a Registered Nurse

Each state's Board of Nursing or equivalent government body determine the basic educational and licensing requirements for registered nurses. Candidates are generally required to demonstrate basic nursing skills, submit proof of accredited training and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Once licensed, RNs typically need to renew their state license every 2-3 years, depending on state regulations.

Step 3: Gain Employment Experience

Experience working as both a nurse and a case manager is often required for professional certification as a Certified Case Manager (CCM). The length of experience preferred or required can vary but is typically a minimum of one year.

Step 4: Obtain Additional Training in Case Management

Continuing education (CE) courses and certificates in case management are available to RNs interested in becoming case managers. CE and certificate programs may range from six weeks to a full quarter or semester in length, and may include classes in legal and ethical issues, insurance advocacy and patient case assessment. Several universities offer Master of Science degrees in nursing and case management, which can also provide clinical resource management and managerial training.

Step 5: Obtain Case Manager Certification

RNs interested in earning the Certified Case Manager (CCM) credential to advance their career must meet certain eligibility requirements as outlined by the Commission for Case Manager Certification (CCMC). These requirements include proof of completion from a postsecondary education program, government licensure that permits independent practice in the field (such as an RN license) and the completion of a required period of employment focused principally on case management practice. Candidates for certification are eligible to apply once they've worked for one year under a board-certified CCM or two years without supervision, or worked for one year as a supervisor to case managers.

CCM certification is valid for a 5-year period. Candidates for renewal must meet the CCMC eligibility requirements, including completing 80 CE credits or re-applying and passing the CCM exam, along with payment of the required fees.

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