BY, RN, MSN, MHA, MA, CCM, ACM-RN, CPHM
Nurses and social workers have been drawn to the travel case management field during the pandemic to help fill a need to quickly transition trained case managers into vacant slots in acute care and throughout the continuum of care. Case managers help manage the throughput and help transition patients to the accurate level of care. This new field in case management allows nurses and social workers to quickly change positions, relocate to new states and provide nurse and social work case managers with the opportunity to advance skills, develop new skills and provide competent case managers to fill needed positions within the case management millieu. Many young case managers and those new to the field are drawn to these positions to gain entry level into case management programs once only accessed after years in case management. Case management nursing assignments are available from coast to coast across all fifty states. Case managers interested in this field can experience the adventure of travel while building their resume, coordinating patient care and providing patient support through the transitions of care. Case managers willing to explore this work must have a BSN or MSN, approximately 2-5 years acute care experience, be certified as a CCM or ACM, be willing to acquire a compact license, or state license in which they will be practicing, be ready to learn about the nurse or social work practice act in the state they are relocating to for work and maintain a can-do, flexible work style to readily fit into a new work setting in each new travel assignment.
What type of nurse or social worker gravitates to this type of position? Those new to the field, willing to try on new roles, learn and advance their careers. Those who wish to transition from a staff position to expand their horizon and assume leadership positions and empty nesters wishing to travel, learn new systems, technology and change their perspective on case management work. While researching this new career option, I met two young millennials who have chosen to advance their careers in this field.
The first is Charlene Ralmazan, who began her career in California as a nursing assistant. In this role she became interested in hospice and end-of-life care management. Charlene, through this love of the hospice field, began working with the hospice case manager, who taught her about the field. Charlene fell in love with this role and went back to school to educate herself in nursing. After several years in acute care, Charlene returned to hospice and educated herself as a case manager for hospice. Charlene was then drawn back to the field of acute care hospital care management.
Charlene married a young man from the New England area and thought that travel case management would be a good way to learn about New England before relocating for her new life in Massachusetts. Charlene moved to this region of the country for a travel case management position in an acute care case management department.
Charlene worked her first travel assignment in California, which allowed her to utilize her California license and knowledge of the California standards of care and practice for nursing. As Charlene developed her work for AMN Healthcare travel company, she learned that prepping for a new travel assignment required anywhere from 2-3 months. Charlene would choose the assignment and state she wished to visit, then had to prepare by applying for licensing if needed or utilizing the nurse licensure compact to acquire a license for the new position. Charlene would then prep to understand any variations in the state for standards of professional case management practice and nursing standards of care.
The second case manager interviewed was a young woman on her first travel assignment from Louisiana. Sacora Lawrence is a BSN nurse who began her career in Shreveport, Louisiana. Sacora originated as a med surgical nurse, moved into urology nursing and then evolved into a trauma medical surgical nurse. Sacora moved to Baton Rouge working in a trauma center and then to Osher Medical for contract nursing. This is where she became interested in case management and began the training needed to become a professional travel nurse. While Sacora worked at this facility with case management she took the time to learn about the case management field. This sparked her interest, and she began studying to become certified as a case manager. Sacora moved to Cape Cod, Massachusetts and took a position in acute care with Meleeo case management travel company for her first case management position. Sacora found it helpful researching her first travel position in case management to learn about the style of case management model used in the facility, questioning if it was a triad or dyad model and whether utilization review and case management practice were intertwined to prepare for her role. Staff ratios 1-15 or 1-20 with utilization review or 1-30 CM only role for acute care practice. Sacora learned while working this first contract position that she wanted to expand her career and prepare for CM management and leadership as a future role.
Both millennial case managers interviewed stressed that in order to be a successful travel case manager it is important to be flexible, be willing to maintain research and education and properly prepare for each new assignment. One of the most important aspects of this preparation includes choosing the best travel case management company for you to begin this career. To be successful, establish a good and supportive working relationship not just with your chosen travel company but with the travel assignment leadership you chose, and understand you have two corporate administrators for which to develop reporting styles. If choosing this avenue for case management career development, the advantages can be enormous, providing you the benefits of travel while performing the job you love.