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Case managers, also known as case workers, are health-care professionals who provide assistance to patients and clients in need. They may work with a variety of populations, such as hospitalized patients, the homeless, mentally ill patients, people with developmental disabilities, nursing home residents or others who are unable to care for themselves. Depending on the specific population, case managers may perform a wide range of duties to provide comprehensive care and ensure their clients' health and well-being.
The educational requirements for case managers vary based on the setting, population served and specific type of work. Some case manager positions require only an associate's degree in a health-care field, while others prefer or require candidates with a bachelor's or master's degree in a mental health-related field, such as psychology or social work. Some positions may also accept job applicants from the field of professional nursing. In addition, many case manager positions require applicants to hold a current state license to practice.
Due to the nature of the work, case managers are expected to have a broad range of human services, communication and technology skills. Case managers must have proficient documentation skills, be able to work well with diverse and challenging populations, maintain appropriate professional boundaries and have the ability to remain calm during crisis situations. Certain positions may also require case managers to maintain billing records, submit budget forms or perform additional administrative tasks.
The specific job duties of a case manager vary depending on setting. In general, case managers provide comprehensive care and coordination of services for clients and patients while they are under the supervision or care of the agency or facility. They are usually required to maintain a caseload of a specific number of clients with whom they meet on a regular basis. They might also conduct intake assessments and interviews with clients, meet with clients periodically to discuss their treatment progress or address any unmet needs, and then connect clients or patients with needed resources or social services.
Some case management positions require a valid driver's license. Case managers might be asked to transport clients in their own vehicles or, in some cases, a vehicle owned by their employers. Case managers are also generally required to participate in regular staff training, staff meetings and supervisory sessions to discuss cases and assignments. Case managers might also meet with public officials or supervisors to discuss their program and funding needs, especially if they work for a government-funded organization.
Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.