Career Profile: Case Manager
In the healthcare industry, case managers serve as patient advocates. They work as a liaison between patients and clinicians, coordinating care and providing guidance for patients, their families, and caregivers. Case managers oversee optimum outcomes for patients, their families and friends, and the entire healthcare delivery system.
What Do Case Managers Do?
A case manager’s responsibilities consist of client care and health services. Often, case managers work with elderly patients in at-home service situations, recovering substance abusers, the chronically ill, hospice patients, or people with disabilities.
Many case worker duties hinge on communicating with patients and determining their therapeutic, medical, psycho-social, and psychiatric needs. The work involves conducting intake interviews, coordinating services, obtaining additional resources, and maintaining records.
Case Manager Treatment and Recovery Plans
A case manager helps clients develop treatment and recovery plans. This may involve setting schedules and routines, establishing treatment goals, and reviewing and evaluating the effectiveness of former treatments and programs.
Caseworkers also maintain records of their client’s progress and responses. Organized record-keeping requires observation and communication with the client and their support network. A case worker can improve the results of a treatment plan by maintaining these records.
Along with the client, the case manager can rewrite policies, redesign processes and routines, and implement other changes that yield better results. Case managers also help their clients access resources that aid in their progress. This includes working with government agencies to help clients receive benefits or connect clients with support groups and community resources.
Case Manager Salary and Job Growth
Though there is no specific data on case managers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job growth in social work will grow 9 percent by 2031, a much faster rate than the average occupational growth. According to the BLS, this expansion is driven partly by the aging Baby Boomer generation requiring more health, medical, and social services.
The average case manager earns $53,167 a year. Most work in local, state, or private hospitals, though some work in ambulatory health care services, nursing and residential care facilities, and social assistance agencies and organizations.
Skills That Benefit Case Managers
People skills are critical to success in the field. Case managers must feel comfortable with patients, their families, and other healthcare professionals. A passion for helping others and problem-solving lead to successful careers.
Other essential case management skills include negotiation, comfort with conducting interviews, and crisis management. Case management skills transfer to many career options within the field, including:
- Correctional case manager
- Forensic case manager
- Geriatric case manager
- Juvenile case manager
- Child case manager
- Rehabilitation case manager
- Legal case manager
- Substance abuse case manager
- Clinical case manager
- Mental health care manager
- Social work case manager
- Medical case manager
- Nurse case manager
Education Required to Become a Case Manager
A bachelor’s degree is typically required for an entry-level case manager position. Many case managers earn a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work. Undergraduate programs in social work focus on equipping students with the social work knowledge, values, and competency skills necessary for their chosen field.
These programs use the case study method to help students learn about human behavior and the social context of their environment. Other topics include social welfare policies and services, multicultural social work, human diversity, social and economic justice, social work ethical standards, and social work research methods. These programs also require students to complete final evaluations, a practicum, and field placement or internships.
A Bachelor of Arts in Social Work program should encourage graduates to pursue licensure and certification as soon as possible. Depending on the location of a case manager, the certification and licensure requirements may vary. The Commission for Case Manager Certification offers professional certifications for case managers to demonstrate competency and skills. The Association of Social Work Boards reports on the requirements and licensure needs of numerous social worker designations.
Case managers may also consider advancing their careers by earning a master’s degree in social work or related fields like a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy.