Is Case Management a Good Career Move for Nurses?

SUMMARY: This article compares survey results from nurses and case managers. So is Case Management a good career move for Nurses? The results show that case managers earn more than nurses, are more satisfied with their job, and the majority of case managers plan to stay with their current employer. However, case management is not the right career move for every nurse. Nurses considering case management should research the field to ensure it is the right fit for them.

Case Management is one of the many career options nurses who want to advance in their career to a nonbedside position can choose. But is the grass greener on the other side? To answer this question we compared recent survey results from nurses and case managers. 

In November 2021, the American Nurse Journal (ANJ) 2021 Nursing Trends and Salary Survey results were released. The results were compared to the 2022 Case Management Salary and Trends Survey released in June of 2022. The case management survey was conducted through a joint collaboration between the Case Management Society of America (CMSA) and the Case Management Institute (CMI).

The ANJ had over 4,500 nurses respond to its survey. The CMSA & CMI survey had over 2,000 case managers respond. While the case management survey received less than half of the responses that nursing received, considering the total number of nurses versus case managers working this is a fair comparison.

Case Managers Earn More Than Nurses

The majority of case managers (62%) earn a salary of $80,000 or more (Llewellyn et al., 2022) compared to only 39% of nurses who earn between $80,000 and $139,999 (Senior, 2021). This is interesting when you take into consideration that almost half (49%) of the case manager respondents work from a home office. This eliminates the expenses related to transportation and meals away from home which can result in even more disposable income for the case manager.

It appears this pay gap is increasing. While 56% of nurses stated they received a pay increase in the past year (Senior, 2021) 65% of case managers received a pay increase (Llewellyn et al., 2022). In addition, 9% of nurses reported their pay decreased (Senior, 2021), compared to only 5% of case managers (Llewellyn et al., 2022).

This may be why the overwhelming majority of case manager respondents (72%) plan to stay with their current employer (Llewellyn et al., 2022) while less than half, only 40%, of nurses do (Senior, 2021).   

How Benefits Compare

Another important component of a compensation plan is the benefit package. Overall there wasn’t a huge difference in the benefit packages offered to nurses and case managers; although case managers seem to have the advantage here also. Nearly all (92%) of case managers earn PTO (Llewellyn et al., 2022) compared to 82% of nurses (Senior, 2021). This may be due to most case managers working full or part-time making them eligible for PTO, while nurses have more opportunities to work in a more “casual” capacity.

Nurses and Case Manager’s Job Satisfaction Compared 

But money isn’t everything. Job satisfaction encompasses many areas and is unique to the individual. To measure satisfaction with their job, nurses and case managers were asked to rate their level of satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = not at all satisfied, 3 = satisfied, 5 = totally satisfied) in a number of areas including:

  • Salary/compensation,
  • Benefits,
  • Amount of overtime worked, and 
  • Current job 

Salary & Benefits

Not surprisingly case managers are happier (85% ≥3 vs. 58% ≥3) with their salary/compensation. Considering they are making considerably more this is to be expected. What is surprising is they are also significantly more satisfied with the benefits provided by their employers. More than nine out of ten (91%) of case manager respondents rated their satisfaction at ≥3 (Llewellyn et al., 2022) versus only about two-thirds (65.5%) of nurses (Senior, 2021)

Overtime

Just under two-thirds (63%) of nurse respondents were satisfied with the amount of overtime they work (Senior, 2021). While case managers were not asked this question directly, they were asked if they were required to work overtime. Only 10% of case manager respondents reported that they are required to work overtime. Of those that are required to work overtime the amount of overtime they are required to work is:

  • <1 hour 12% (or 1.2% of all cm’s surveyed),
  • 1-3 hours 29% (or 2.9% of all cm’s surveyed),
  • 4-6 hours 25% (or 2.5% of all cm’s surveyed),
  • 7-10 hours 17% (or 1.7% of all cm’s surveyed)
  • >10 hours 17% (or 1.7% of all cm’s surveyed)(Llewellyn et al., 2022).

Overall Case Managers are More Satisfied than Nurses With Their Current Job

Finally, and again not surprisingly, case managers are more satisfied overall with their current job than nurses. Whereas over three-fourths (77%) of nurses rated their satisfaction at ≥3 (Senior, 2021) more than nine out of 10 (92.5%) of case managers did so (Llewellyn et al., 2022). 

The Demographics: Who are today’s nurses and case managers?

Age

Because of the way the questions were asked we are unable to get a true age comparison, but it looks like case managers are a little older on average than nurses. This makes sense since most case managers have healthcare experience such as nursing, medical social work, or therapy before entering the field. The average age of the nurse replying to the ANJ survey was 53 (Senior, 2021); while 58% of case managers were 51 or older (Llewellyn et al., 2022). Only 2% of case manager respondents were 30 or younger.

Gender

While it is believed that men comprise about 7% to 9% of the nursing profession, the 2022 Case Management Salary and Trends Survey survey found that they make up only 3% of case managers (Llewellyn et al., 2022).

Education and Certification

The level of education for both groups is about the same with 80% of AJN (Senior, 2021) and 83% of CM (Llewellyn et al., 2022) respondents holding a Bachelor’s degree or higher. This is interesting because although case management is considered to be an advanced practice of nursing or another profession, it does not require any additional education. This makes it faster and less expensive for a nurse to transition into case management than other advanced practice career options such as NP or CRNA.

While case managers may not have higher degrees than nurses, more of them do hold certifications. While only 39% of nurses reported having a certification in their chosen specialty (Senior, 2021), two-thirds (67%) of case managers hold a professional certification. 

Conclusion: Case Management Is a Great Career Move for Nurses

Comparing the survey responses from nurses and case managers clearly shows that case management is a great career choice for nurses. Case managers make more money and are more satisfied with their careers than nurses. 

Nurses interested in transitioning to case management should conduct their own research to ensure it is a good fit for them. The Case Management Institute has a 1 CNE program that elaborates on this specialty area.

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References

Llewellyn, A., Black, A., Gillingham, D., & Parker-Williams, L. (2022). Case Management Salary & Trends Survey Report.

Senior, R. J. (2021). 2021 nursing trends and salary survey results. American Nurse Journal, 16(11), 15–20.