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Blog November 16, 2020

How to Become an Acute Care Case Manager

Acute care case management plays an important role for hospitals and healthcare organizations.

A case manager handles a multitude of acute care medical services. These include getting multiple providers on the same page, communicating with patients and caregivers who are no longer at the hospital, determining and finding the most appropriate next care setting – all of these tasks are quite complex yet critical to improving clinical outcomes.

So if you’re interested in taking an acute care case management career path, here are some insights:

What Does a Case Manager Do?

Case Managers oversee patients’ physical and mental wellness in hospitals, ERs, aged care facilities, and social service departments to ensure they’re supported and can achieve the best outcomes.

They work closely with physicians, nurses, mental health and healthcare professionals, as well as family and friends of patients. Case managers assess a patient’s physical and mental wellness, needs, and abilities, record a patient’s progress, schedule home visits, follow up with discharged patients, and much more.

Case Manager Skills

Individuals may bring a wide range of experience and skills to their positions, including the ability to:

  • Relate to patients with various needs and motivate them to follow care plans
  • Articulate care plans to patients, family and healthcare professionals
  • Provide excellent organizational and record-keeping, as well as managing multiple cases
  • Offer sound critical thinking and problem-solving skills to assess patients, analyze feedback from healthcare and social workers, and determine the best care plans

Qualifications and Education

A Case Manager position requires at least a bachelor’s degree. Fields of study may vary – for example, a degree in nursing equips case managers for the healthcare field. A degree in psychology helps those seeking a case management career path in the mental health field. Counseling, sociology and social work are also common fields of study. Many employers also require candidates to hold a Commission for Case Manager certification, especially for mid-level and senior case manager roles.

Which Case Management Certification Should You Choose?

Here’s an overview of three of the most popular certification programs for case managers:

CCM (Certified Case Manager)

The Commission offers the exam and credentials for Case Manager Certification (CCMC), the first organization to certify case managers. It pertains to all case managers as long as they have a license that allows them to conduct an independent assessment of the client. This makes it very popular with case managers who are interested in career advancement and making themselves more marketable.

ACM (Accredited Case Manager)

The American Case Management Association (ACMA) is targeted specifically for RN’s and Social Workers. The ACM is designed for health delivery system and transitions of care case managers working in a hospital. Applicants must have one year (2,080 hours) of full time, supervised paid work experience in a healthcare delivery system as a case manager, or a role that falls within the Services and Standards of Practice scope.


Administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), this exam focuses specifically on nursing case management. Applicants must hold a current, active RN license within a state or territory of the U.S. Work experience requirements include the equivalent of two years full-time work as a registered nurse, a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical practice in nursing case management, and 30 hours of continuing education in nursing case management within the last 3 years.


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