Healthcare case coordinators specialize in arranging and securing services for people with chronic, acute or terminal illnesses, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease or AIDS. Some work with patients that have substance abuse problems or mental health disorders. Medical and public health social workers often serve as case coordinators, while other professionals in the field have a background in healthcare management rather than social work.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for case coordinators are projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations between 2008 and 2018. Increasing life spans are leading to a large elderly population, who generally require a larger number of healthcare services. This, in turn, creates a greater demand for healthcare case coordinators, specifically those focused in the gerontological field. In addition, as more people seek help for substance abuse and mental illnesses, case coordinators will be needed to help individuals manage their treatment and recovery efforts.
Case coordinators typically assist an individual or a family in setting up treatment options and services, such as arranging transportation for outpatient services or coordinating residential care. They may work with clients assigned to rehabilitative or long-term care facilities, substance-abuse programs, mental health clinics, nursing homes or adult day-care facilities, as well as those receiving at-home care. In addition to providing access to media and health services, case coordinators can also direct clients to additional social services resources.
A job as a healthcare case coordinator can be a high-stress profession, often involving heavy caseloads and a large volume of paperwork. However, most coordinators have high levels of job satisfaction, as they find helping those in need extremely rewarding. A full-time case coordinator generally works 40 hours per week. However, some may work evenings and weekends to meet with clients and handle emergencies.
Case coordinators are typically employed by hospitals, nursing and rehabilitative care facilities, individual and family services agencies, and local government agencies.
The BLS reports that in May 2009, medical and public health social workers (including case coordinators) earned a median salary of $46,300, while those specializing in substance abuse and mental health cases had median earnings of $38,200. PayScale.com includes case coordinators under the title of case managers; its national salary data listed annual income between $29,564 and $46,960 in July 2010. Associate’s degree holders will often start out at the lower end of the scale, but can achieve higher-paying positions with further education and experience.
Healthcare employers prefer case coordinators to have a minimum of an associate’s degree in healthcare management, human services, gerontology, or one of the social or behavioral sciences. Some organizations may require a bachelor’s or master’s degree in healthcare management, human services, counseling, rehabilitation or social work.
The first step for those looking to become a case coordinator in the booming healthcare field can be an associate’s degree in healthcare management.
Completion of a healthcare management education program helps prepare a prospective hire to:
If you have strong organizational abilities, confident decision-making skills, an aptitude for managing case materials and a desire to help those suffering from medical conditions, then a job as healthcare case coordinator may be the ideal career for you.