There’s a common thread that runs through all nursing roles: a passion for caring for others. But within nursing, there’s a wide array of career paths, giving RNs the opportunity to find the best fit for themselves.
The Case Management Nurse role is a central part of holistic patient care. It’s a good fit for registered nurses who can advocate for patients, coordinate services from outside organizations, and communicate well with families. In this job, it’s less about intense bedside interaction, and more about looking at the big picture of care for patients over the course of their treatment. As a Nurse Case Manager, you can make a huge impact.
Briana Barnett, Case Management RN at Swedish, says she chose to pursue a Case Management role because “I noticed that I enjoyed more of the care coordination aspect. I got to be more mental and problem solving and less technical and hands on, which I found suited me more–and helped me have like a better work life balance. I applied to the Swedish role. Once I got in, I realized that this is exactly what I should be doing because I get to have relationships with patients, but I don’t have to do all the hands-on things.”
WHAT DOES A CASE MANAGEMENT NURSE DO?
A nurse case manager typically manages healthcare plans for patients that are elderly, recuperating from serious injuries, or coping with chronic illnesses. Case manager RNs collaborate with doctors and other medical professionals. They often schedule medical appointments, facilitate communication about a patient’s health condition, provide guidance, and serve as a liaison between patients and their insurance providers.
Barnett explains, “I’m a connector; I bridge any gaps in communication between the provider, the bedside nurse, and community services. As an advocate for the patient, I help come up with the safest discharge plan for them from the hospital back into the community. I organize ancillary services such as rehab, home health or home infusion. I even help find substance abuse treatment or long-term housing for patients.”
WHAT SKILLS ARE IMPORTANT FOR A CASE MANAGEMENT NURSE?
“It’s a position where you are constantly learning, and things are always changing as far as community resources. It’s a lot about like building relationships with those community resources, with the home health agencies, with the skilled nursing facilities and being very proactive with your communication so that you can build those relationships and things can flow more seamlessly when you want to arrange services,” says Barnett.
“Patients are very grateful for what we do. A lot of times it requires in-depth understanding of the community or the bureaucratic systems and we can take that off their plate. A big part of it is working with the families and making sure they’re supported,” states Barnett.
Excellent communication & education skills
“You do have to approach patients and families with very uncomfortable things or things that are new. You’re balancing different opinions on the care plan, and sometimes frustration with the progression. You have to be not only that listening ear, but also the person to deliver difficult news, whether it’s getting into a rehab facility or lack of insurance coverage.”
“So many people, as they age, don’t understand long-term care. A lot of family members and patients think that with Medicare and Social Security, they’ll be able to access a nursing home for free. The way our society lacks resources for the elderly is something that we have to completely unpack for them. There’s a lot of education happening,” Barnett explains.
Familiarity with clinical practices
As a Case Management RN, bedside experience helps. Barnett says, “You know the milestones that we look for patients to meet, the rhythm of a hospital stay, and who best to reach out to. And it all comes down to getting people discharged safely.”
“I have a lot of autonomy in my role in terms of how I want to approach things, so I enjoy that,” says Barnett. “For the future, there’s different opportunities that come up here at Swedish. So, I just try to remain open.”
Interested in being a Case Management RN at Swedish? View all opportunities here.