How to Become a Certified Care Manager: Step-by-Step Career Guide
Learn how to become a certified care manager. Research the education requirements, licensure information and experience required for starting a career in care management.
Career Requirements for Certified Care Managers
A care manager assesses a patient's long- and short-term needs and works with professional caregivers to plan a program that addresses those needs. A certified care manager is an individual who has earned certification as a care manager from the National Academy of Certified Care Managers (NACCM). These manager's job duties cover five main areas: assessing and identifying client strengths and needs, establishing a plan of care, implementing a care plan, monitoring a patient's progress and acting professionally. A registered nursing (RN) diploma or associate's degree is the minimum education required to earn certification. The following table shows the requirements to work as a certified care manager, as provided by the NACCM:
|Degree Level||A minimum of an associate's degree or RN diploma is required for certification|
|Degree Fields||A field related to care management, which includes rehabilitation, registered nursing, public health, human services, psychology, gerontology, counseling and social work|
|Licensure or Certification||No license required; certification is available through the National Academy of Certified Care Managers|
|Experience||Minimum of three years, paid full-time supervisory and two years direct-patient care experience is required|
|Key Skills||Communication, observation, counseling, coordination, interpersonal, critical-thinking, interviewing and document analysis skills|
|Additional Requirements||Knowledge of substance abuse, human development, organizational, adult learning, crisis, behavior and family systems theories|
Step 1: Earn a Degree
The National Academy of Certified Care Managers (NACCM) requires that applicants have at least either an associate's degree in social work, counseling, nursing, public health or a comparable discipline or a RN diploma to be eligible for certification. Associate's degree programs in social and community health usually require completion of coursework and a field experience. Classes in these 2-year programs cover topics like wellness for life, anatomy, physiology, social welfare programs and policies, sociology, human development and psychology.
RN diploma programs require approximately one year to complete. Classes in these programs cover topics like anatomy, physiology, microbiology, nutrition, psychology and chemistry. All states require nurses to be licensed, generally by passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) offered by the National Council State Boards of Nursing.
- Participate in a field experience. Students in associate's degree programs and nursing diploma programs may be able to complete multiple field experiences, possibly in a care management firm. Interning with a care manager allows individuals to network with professionals in the field and perform some of the job tasks they will be responsible for completing in their jobs. This experience may impress employers.
Step 2: Gain Work Experience
The NACCM requires that diploma and associate's degree holders have at least three years of supervisory care management experience and two years of direct patient-care experience in a field such as social work, mental health counseling or care management. This means that at least five years of work experience distributed according to NACCM's guidelines must be acquired prior to seeking certification.
- Prepare for the certification exam. The NACCM offers a handbook containing a test description and question samples to certification candidates. Using this handbook to study may make it more like that an individual passes the exam on their first try.
Step 3: Earn Certification
The NACCM's Care Manager, Certified (CMC) credential identifies the holder as meeting a high standard of experience and care in the field. Earning this certification requires passing an exam. Exams are offered twice a year at more than 400 testing sites located throughout the nation.
Step 4: Maintain Certification
The CMC certification lasts for three years. To renew it, individuals must complete at least 15 hours of continuing education every year for a total of 45 hours and provide documentation of engaging in the practice of care management during the three year period.
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