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URMC / News / School of Nursing Launches Care Manager Education Program

School of Nursing Launches Care Manager Education Program

Unique Online Course Defines Role, Teaches Best Practices

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Clinical care manager Trish Edd, M.S., R.N., who works within the Olsan Medical Group at Clinton Crossings, completed the online course when it was in its pilot phase, and says it brought clarity to her work, even as an experienced care manager. In addition to providing education and follow-up, Edd says care managers help with grieving support, elderly care, and issues obtaining medications. They interface with manufacturers and caregivers and connect patients with community resources. "It’s a very dynamic, independent and creative role."

The School of Nursing Center for Lifelong Learning has unveiled an online Care Manager Education course that is the first of its kind in the country to be offered by a University.

Developed by an interprofessional team led by professor of clinical nursing Daryl Sharp, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., the eight-module, interactive course defines and standardizes the role and objectives of a care manager. It identifies and teaches best practices, and helps care managers build skills and approaches they can apply to their daily work with patients.

“Care managers are here to stay as integral members of health care teams, but the role is relatively new and there are considerable differences in how it is enacted across settings,” says Sharp, who based the curriculum design on more than a decade of research, teaching and pilot testing. Sharp also directs care management for Accountable Health Partners, and for several years has provided consultation to the care managers of more than 20 patient-centered medical homes within the URMC Primary Care Network, which is currently overseen by Linda Johnson, R.N., M.S., C.C.M., C.O.H.N.s, Stephen Judge, M.D., and Wallace E. Johnson, M.D.

Professor of clinical nursing Daryl Sharp, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., says care managers provide the extra level of education, support and follow-up to help patients achieve measurable health improvements.

“This course helps to bring care managers onto the same page, defines the role’s core responsibilities, and explains how care management aligns with payment and structural reform in our evolving health care system,” says Sharp. “It also teaches how to use data to care for populations of people, and provides real-life tools and resources to help care managers perform their jobs more effectively. Most of all, it will help them see what they’re doing right, and where there are opportunities for growth.”

Since the passing of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the care manager model has been embraced and nurtured here and across the country as a front-line response to health reform’s shifting methods of payment and the need to strengthen quality, control costs, improve the prevention and management of chronic diseases, and promote health across populations.  Specifically, care managers aim to lower health care costs by reducing unnecessary hospital readmissions and emergency department visits, and by providing the access, education and support vital to keeping people healthier, longer.

Yet, because the complex role is still just a few years old,  there are variances to what care managers do—and even what they’re called—within hospital units, emergency departments, primary care offices, home care agencies, nursing homes, and within professions like social work, pharmacy and mental health. Depending on the setting, they might be known as care coordinators, case managers, nurse navigators, transition coaches, discharge coordinators or data coordinators.

Associate professor of clinical nursing Susan Ciurzynski, Ph..D., R.N., P.N.P., directs the School of Nursing’s Center for Lifelong Learning.

The common denominator: most are nurses.

From identifying a patient’s strengths, needs, concerns and preferences—to synthesizing assessment data—to establishing, implementing and monitoring care plans in partnership with a team of providers, nurses are well-suited. Additionally, says Sharp, care managers need to be astute at recognizing how factors like gender, culture or socioeconomic status might affect how a patient perceives and prioritizes his or her health care needs.

A care manager is first and foremost a patient advocate, says Sharp.

“Right now, across our system we’re still seeing episodic and fragmented care delivery, when what we’re striving for is a more integrated approach,” she says. “A care manager supports integration by remaining with a patient beyond the individual encounters with the health system to not only coordinate care, but provide a wide spectrum of services to promote patient-centered behavioral change and healthy lifestyles.”

Associate professor of clinical nursing Susan Ciurzynski, Ph.D., R.N., P.N.P., who directs the School of Nursing’s Center for Lifelong Learning, worked to benchmark the new course against other educational models nationwide, and to carefully develop the curriculum into an interactive online course, featuring video presentations and demonstrations, self-reflective activities, interviews and roundtable discussions.

“I’m proud that it incorporates a variety of teaching methods, and goes far beyond simply posting a PDF version of a course as others sometimes do,” she says. “The nature of care management is all about personal engagement and interaction, so it was essential that this course be engaging too.”

Ciurzynski says the course is open to anyone interested in learning more about the role, but ideal for nurses and other health professionals currently working in a care manager capacity, or aspiring to enter the growing field. Physicians who are considering hiring a care manager to their practices may also find the course beneficial as a foundational tool for orienting care managers and helping them actualize their roles.

To learn more or enroll in the Care Manager Education Program offered by the School of Nursing Center for Lifelong Learning, visit son.rochester.edu/cll or call (585) 275-0446. The course fee is $990. A 50% discount is available for employees of the University of Rochester Medical Center and affiliates. Although care managers are not currently required to be nationally certified to practice, the course provides 30 Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) contact hours, which can be applied toward the continuing education requirements necessary to maintain certification by the National Academy of Certified Care Managers.

The University of Rochester Center for Nursing Professional Development is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.

Media Contact

Christine Roth

(585) 275-1309

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