Case managers are a difficult group to describe. We take on roles like a chameleon; ever-changing to meet the needs that are as complex as the populations we serve. Our role is often misunderstood, or even invisible to the professionals that rely on the work that we do. Our efforts are understated, yet incredibly important in assisting those that would be lost through the cracks.
I have often tried explaining what I do as a case manager but my descriptions never seem to do the profession justice. Our role is sometimes difficult to conceptualize because it falls into so many different categories and overlaps with multiple other professions. Most people I speak to are vaguely aware of the term but most are unaware of what a case manager does. Sometimes people will ask me if I am still a nurse. I’m not at the bedside dressing wounds or administering medications. I work at a computer and some days I stay in my pajamas all day, with Kitty slippers and all. Despite this, I am still a nurse. To be precise I am a nurse case manager. I am using my skills and working under a license just as I did before, only the work that I perform now is strictly mental and knowledge-based rather than procedural. I am using my experience and expertise to make sure that my clients are getting appropriate care, that they are taking the right steps to care for themselves, and that they know what to do when things fall apart. Of course, not all case managers are nurses. We are social workers and mental health specialists, among many other professions.