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The Competency Continuum: Expanding the Case Manager's Skill Sets and Capabilities

Henning, Sarah E. MHSA, BSN, RN, BC, ACM; Cohen, Elaine L. EdD, RN, FAAN

doi: 10.1097/

Purpose/objectives To describe the methodology of developing a competency assessment process and tools for case management associates in a large multifacility acute care setting.

Primary practice setting(s) Nurse case managers practice in a variety of settings and may function in teams that include the medical social workers, utilization review specialists, appeals coordinators, and language interpreters. As professionals and licensed associates, case managers are responsible for their own professional and clinical development. Competency assessment can take place in any care setting and utilized by all case managers.

Findings/conclusions Understanding adult learning principles and the role transition from caregiver to case manager, competencies were developed that were grounded in professional case management standards of practice. The competency assessment process is based on a “continuum” and should be approached with the end result in mind, promoting professionalism and accountability for one's own development.

Implications for case management practice The practice of case management is a reflection of the organization's mission vision, values, and strategic goals. Incorporating these initiatives, along with the professional scope and standards of practice for case management, provides a well-rounded opportunity for case managers to develop collaborative leadership skills necessary to perform in today's robust healthcare environment.

Sarah E. Henning, MHSA, BSN, RN, BC, ACM, is currently the Corporate Manager for Case Management and Interpreting Services at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, Memphis, TN. She is board certified in Nursing Staff Development, and as a former Clinical Educator and Pediatric Clinical Coordinator for the five facility hospital system, she has experience in leading teams to develop competency assessments, tools, and practices. She has additional experience in acute care hospital case management as well as postacute care administration and operations.

Elaine L. Cohen, EdD, RN, FAAN, is Corporate Director for Case Management at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare and holds a position of Professor at the University of Tennessee, School of Nursing. She is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing. She is highly published in case management and holds numerous positions on state and national nursing leadership and editorial review boards.

Address correspondence to Sarah E. Henning, MHSA, BSN, RN, BC, ACM, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, 1211 Union Avenue, Suite 616, Memphis, TN 38104 (

The authors have no conflict of interest.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.