Case management is not for everyone. Without the skills and qualities necessary for case management you will detest your job and your clients will suffer. Some skills can be developed such as organizational skills, time management, and computer skills. But many of the qualities that make a good case manager are intrinsic and can not be developed. For example, without the strong, innate desire to advocate for your client you will not see the importance of, or opportunities to, do so. This will result in poor outcomes for your clients and poor job performance on your part.
Case managers need a thorough understanding of how the healthcare system works in practice, not just theory. For this reason, a firm clinical foundation is a must. The consensus is that a minimum of 5 years of experience working in the healthcare industry with much of that in acute care is a necessary background for someone entering the field of case management. Case Management is not an entry level position, but rather an area of expertise that requires the knowledge and skills that are accumulated and mastered over years in the practice setting.
Excellent communication skills
Excellent communication is an essential part of case management. Communication is how we conduct our assessments, advocate, negotiate, document, educate, and transition our clients. Without good communication skills a case manager can not be successful. Case managers need to communicate respectfully and effectively with all members of the healthcare team, the client, their family, and other stakeholders.
It is important for case managers to understand verbal and non-verbal communication, being good listeners who can hear both what is being said and what is not said. Case managers also need to listen with an open mind to understand and practice empathic listening - understanding the other person’s frame of reference (values, beliefs, and feelings).
Interviewing skills are the ability to develop a rapport with the client that allows him to feel safe opening up and providing you with the information you need, including sensitive information. It is important that the case manager be able to obtain the information needed during the client interview as this is the foundation for the remainder of the case management process. For this reason, good interview skills are a must.
Strong computer skills
Today’s case manager must have strong computer skills. The RN case manager replaces her stethoscope with a computer. The computer is used for client selection, a portion of the assessment, documentation, research, and communication.
Basic proficiency in the use of Microsoft Word, Excel, and Outlook Mail are necessary to most case management positions. Case managers must also have basic computer skills to build on that will allow them to learn how to use computer software that they will use to send and retrieve faxes and other documentation, determine the length of stay, and document.
Examples of how CMs use computers:
Software that finds clients at high risk that may benefit from case management services
Access to the client's medical record
Documentation of assessment, intervention, response, communication (everything)
Researching diseases not familiar with and community resources
Google for information and resources
Prioritization, Organization, and Time Management Skills
Case managers are busy people. To get everything done they need excellent prioritization, organization, and time management skills that enable them to work quickly and efficiently. Case managers will have a variety of tasks to perform on a daily basis making it necessary to prioritize those tasks and manage their time wisely. Organizational skills will help them to find the resources they need to do their job quickly.
Things are always changing. It’s good to start the day with a plan, but things will come up and case managers need to be flexible and adaptable to change when this happens.
Independent worker but knows when to ask for help
Case managers MUST be able to work independently. They need to know what needs to be done and how to do it. There will always be the occasion where the help of others is needed, and they must be willing to ask for that help, but for the day-to-day work of the case manager you are expected to perform your role without direction.
Strong problem-solving skills/Critical Thinking skills
Critical thinking skills include the ability to reason, organize, and analyze information so that problems are understood and solutions are developed. Case managers will often get a large amount of info and need to determine what is relevant. They need to understand the problem, or potential problem, and formulate and implement a plan that will resolve the problem.
Strong Interpersonal Skills
Interpersonal skills are the ability to communicate and interact with others. Case managers do not work in a vacuum, they are constantly working with others and need to be the type of person others enjoy working with. You can’t do your job if others are avoiding you because of a lack of interpersonal skills.
Strong Ethics, Values, Integrity, and Trust
This is a core part of case management and covered in CMSA’s Standards of Practice. This is a non-negotiable for those entering case management.
Case managers must have both the desire and ability to advocate for the needs of the client. This includes conveying the client's desires to the providers, caregivers, and family as well as teaching self-advocacy.
Compassion refers to both an understanding of another’s pain and more importantly for case managers, the desire to somehow mitigate that pain. It motivates the case manager to want to go out of their way to help the physical, mental, or emotional pains of another. Without compassion the case manager will find themselves dreading going into work each day. They will also not be able to truly meet the needs of their client. Case managers need to have the ability to have compassion for their clients, as well as other stakeholders.
Case Managers need to be constantly learning so that they can best serve and educate their clients. Congratulations! By taking this course you are proving that you are committed to your personal development.
For more information on resources and training for case managers go to CaseManagementInstitute.com
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