Nursing can be a rewarding profession, but your work-life balance is often out of whack. After you spend years working on the nursing floor, the long shifts, odd hours and physical demands can take a toll.
“A lot of nurses work graveyard shifts, on weekends and every holiday. They’re ready to transition to more of an 8-to-5 shift, or even 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. or so. So for them to get into a role with more regular hours, that’s huge for them,” said Kateri Tillman, an Aerotek recruiter based in Sacramento, California.
Tillman recruits case management nurses to work for hospitals and health insurance companies, where they assess and coordinate medical care for patients. Unlike many nurses, most case managers work eight-hours-a-day, Monday-to-Friday schedules. Some can even telecommute, at least part of the time.
What do you need to know to succeed as a case manager? We asked Tillman and two of her colleagues — Mark Thompson, a practice lead, and Laura Hunt, an account manager — who place staff with healthcare organizations.
What do nurse case managers do?
Case managers collaborate with other nurses, doctors, insurers, social workers, patients and their families to ensure patients efficiently get the appropriate medical care they need. It’s less of a “hands-on” nursing job and more of a planning and organizational role.
“Instead of working 12-hour shifts four nights a week, we can place you in an administrative role at a desk in a chair,” Thompson added. “But you’re still able to help patients.”
What skills are employers looking for?
Case managers are often experienced nurses looking to make a career change.
“A lot of nurses who come from that acute-care hospital setting have been doing that for 20, maybe even 30 years. When they come to us, they’re ready to make a change,” Hunt said.
“You have to be well-versed in computer systems,” Thompson said. “You have to be able to work within Word, Excel, internet browsers, typing and navigating a computer. All the nurses that we’ve placed, they have two or three screens in front of them.”
Experience with electronic medical record software such as Cerner or InterQual is useful, Tillman added.
How else can job candidates set themselves apart from the competition?
You can earn a CCM, meaning you’re a Certified Case Manager. To earn this certification, you must have experience in case management, and you need to pass the 180-question CCM exam.
“If you have a CCM, you’ll be considered for almost any role,” Thompson said. “The directors and VPs who I work with, they usually have ‘CCM’ in their title, just like a PhD. It’s pretty big in terms of separating yourself.”
How do I become a case manager?
“Most of these positions are contract-to-hire positions,” Tillman said. “With case managers, because they’re in such high demand, it’s very rare that a company would want someone for a short-term project.”
You might consider working with a specialized healthcare recruiter. Our recruiters work closely with hospitals and health insurance organizations’ HR departments, which often forego online postings in favor of using healthcare recruiters. This means there are a lot of job openings that you won’t necessarily see in online employment listings.
New candidates can also search for postings on healthcare organizations’ job boards.
If you haven’t searched for a job in a while, make sure your resume reflects your recent experience and current trends. “A lot of times, nurses have worked in a hospital forever, and their resumes aren’t up to date. Specialized recruiters can provide valuable insight into what employers are currently looking for, and can also coach you before your interview.&rdquo
How much do nurse case managers make?
Pay can vary, but nurse case managers generally make anywhere from $45 to $50 an hour, especially if they were previously registered nurses.
That often represents a step up in pay along with a more stable work environment.
Are you a nurse thinking about finding more regular work hours? Spend some time exploring our case manager jobs.