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Nursing Articles

A nursing degree may open the door to a variety of opportunities and diverse career paths. The degree programs offered at CTU will not necessarily lead to the featured careers. This collection of articles is intended to help inform and guide you through the process of determining which level of degree and types of certifications align with your desired career path.

How to Become a Case Management Nurse

Case management nursing careers tend to consolidate multiple facets of the healthcare industry. With responsibilities involving treatment planning and face-to-face interaction and cooperation with patients,1 these health care professionals can enjoy a varied, meaningful career. However, there are certain characteristics and educational requirements a person should have to become a case management nurse.

Skills and Characteristics

Since the primary purpose of case management nurses is to work with patients and families to understand illnesses or injuries and develop treatment plans,1 the nurse should have effective communication and critical-thinking skills. In general, nurses also must have compassion, physical stamina and emotional resilience.2

Case management nurses treat patients in many different environments, and each employer may require a different set of skills. However, some common work competencies include:3

  • Understanding the capabilities and preferences of a patient
  • Aligning with all moving parts of a care plan and coordinating with the healthcare team and the patient to put the plan into action
  • Promoting client self-determination and helping the patient take control of their care

Typically, no two patients’ cases are the same. As a result, case management nurses should be able to make educated decisions, learn and adapt as needed.

Required Education

Potential registered nurses (RNs) can begin their career by obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), or a diploma from an accredited nursing program. The nursing candidate must then meet the qualifications to become a registered nurse, including completing supervised clinical work, passing a national exam, and becoming licensed by their state’s board of nursing. Licensed graduates of any of the education programs may qualify for entry-level positions as a staff nurse; however, employers such as hospitals may require a BSN.2

Certifications and Licenses

The first step after earning a nursing degree from an accredited nursing program is to become licensed. To do this, an RN candidate must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) and any other licensing requirements outlined by their state’s board of nursing.2

Once licensed, an RN can pursue board certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for nursing case management. To be eligible for this certification, a nurse must have a current and active license, have practiced full-time for two years, have a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical practice in nursing case management within the last three years, and have completed 30 hours of education in nursing case management also within the last three years.4

Case management certification can likewise be obtained through the American Case Management Association (ACMA). The ACMA certification offered requires an RN to have a valid and current nursing license and one year (or 2,080 hours) of full-time experience as a case manager. For candidates with less than two years of experience in their profession, they must provide manager contact information and prove one year of supervised case management experience.5

Job Market

The job outlook for all registered nurses is projected to grow much faster than average for all occupations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of RNs is projected to increase by 16% through 2024. This is compared to 7% of projected growth for all other occupations in the country. Generally, RNs with a bachelor’s degree will have better job prospects than those without one.6

The demand for health care services is expected to increase due to an aging population as well as the need to educate and provide care for patients with chronic conditions like arthritis, dementia, diabetes and obesity. Federal health insurance reform and the growing use of long-term care facilities may also contribute to the increased demand for health services. Additionally, growth is expected to be faster than average in outpatient care centers where patients are provided same-day health services such as chemotherapy, rehabilitation and surgery.6

What to Expect on a Day-to-Day Basis

The daily routine of a case management nurse may change depending on their position, patients or workplace. However, day-to-day duties can involve:3

  • Identifying a patient’s conditions and preferences which leads to the development of a care plan
  • Defining strategies and next steps towards achieving desired outcomes of a plan of care
  • Evaluation and outcome measurement to determine what’s not working and what needs to be modified in a care plan
  • Secondary responsibilities including benefit determination, administrative tasks, direct patient care not related to case management assessment or intervention, quality and risk management

Case management nurses can work in a variety of locations and extend across all health care settings. These settings can include hospitals, ambulatory care clinics, residential and assisted living facilities, long-term care, hospice care, physicians’ offices, life care planning, and disease management.7

Although the duties or setting may vary, nurses interested in providing patients with long-term plans to achieve their health care goals may find this career complex but rewarding.

Earn Your BSN from CTU

Colorado Technical University offers an RN-to-BSN program built on prior foundational nursing knowledge and provides students with the opportunity to develop necessary tools to deliver evidence-based nursing care and drive change at the bedside and beyond. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program at Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (

How to Become an Oncology Nurse

There are many different types of nursing careers available, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the job outlook for registered nurses (RNs) will grow by 16% through 2024.1 One particular nursing workforce estimated to be on the rise is oncology. The National Cancer Institute predicted that the number of cancer patients in the U.S. will increase from 38 million in 2005 to 57 million in 2020. As a result of this growing number of patients and the rising complexity of cancer care, the demand for cancer services is also likely to increase dramatically.2

Before diving into the field of cancer care or oncology nursing, however, it may be beneficial to review the skills and education needed for this career.

Skills and Characteristics

Oncology nurses, as with most other medical specialties, should have a deep interest in the field itself as well as caring for people. These nurses must be kind and genuine individuals. It is also important that an oncology nurse be resilient as there are some days that might be overwhelming and, alternatively, others that may be gratifying. Oncology nurses should also develop a healthy perspective and not let their hearts get hard with the patient sufferings they may see. Some challenges of oncology nursing are remaining objective and balancing each patient’s emotional and physical needs, no matter how demanding a day may become.3

Required Education

To begin the path of becoming an oncology nurse, a student must first obtain a nursing license through an approved diploma, associate degree or Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program. After obtaining a nursing degree, the student must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) and can pursue a career as a registered nurse (RN). A licensed RN can apply to work toward a specialty area, such as oncology, and gain experience in a hospital or other treatment facility.4

Certifications and Licenses

An RN looking to pursue oncology specifically may want to earn additional certifications to become an Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN) or an Advanced Oncology Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist (AOCNS). Both of these certifications are offered by the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC). The ONCC also offers other specialized certifications for oncology nurses, including:5

  • Blood & Marrow Transplant Certified Nurse (BMTCN)
  • Certified Breast Care Nurse (CBCN)
  • Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse (CPHON)

The various certifications awarded by the ONCC have their own particular requirements for education and experience. For instance, to become an OCN, a minimum of 12 months of RN experience and at least 1,000 hours of adult oncology nursing practice is necessary within 30 months of applying to take the certification exam. A candidate must also have a minimum of ten contact hours of continuing nursing education in oncology or an academic elective in oncology within the 36 months prior to the application.5 In order to maintain an ONCC certification, nurses need to renew their certification every four years.6

Job Market for Oncology Nurses

As in all nursing careers, job market projections suggest a projected growth through the year 2024.1 Oncology nurses, in particular, are projected to be in higher demand as the baby boomer generation ages and due to the fact that cancer frequency increases exponentially with age.7

What to Expect on a Daily Basis

The growing field of oncology nursing has many environments in which individuals can work, including hospitals, outpatient care facilities, physicians' offices, long-term care facilities and home health agencies. While specific daily tasks may vary depending on where someone works, the main duties of oncology nurses include the following:7

  • Creating a treatment plan with physicians
  • Keeping detailed health records to ensure an accurate history is recorded
  • Tracking all lab work, imaging and pathology
  • Helping patients to understand their diagnosis, treatment plan and potential side effects
  • Answering questions and simplifying medical jargon to help patients understand their situations
  • Assessing the emotional and physical state of patients
  • Administering chemotherapy treatment and any other medication
  • Helping patients to manage any symptoms they have during their treatment
  • Communicating with physicians on the patient's behalf to address any concerns
  • Providing counseling for cancer prevention
  • Offer families support and education

Since oncology nursing is considered extremely demanding on a person, physical or emotional burnout can happen. In order to take care of others properly, self-maintenance must be an additional priority for oncology nurses. Caring for cancer patients is physically, mentally and emotionally strenuous8 but may still make for a personally rewarding career.

Earn Your BSN at CTU

Colorado Technical University offers a bachelor’s degree program designed to build upon prior nursing education, certification and experience. Colorado Technical University’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (http://www.ccneaccreditation.org). Learn more about CTU’s nursing degrees.


1. “What is Case Management?” Retrieved from: http://solutions.cmsa.org/acton/fs/blocks/showLandingPage/a/10442/p/p-0003/t/page/fm/0/r/l-0264:3/s/l-0264?sid=VBd1pHNyI (Visited 8/23/17).
2. “How to Become a Registered Nurse.” Retrieved from: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm#tab-4 (Visited 8/23/17).
3. “What Kind of Work Does a Case Manager Do?” Retrieved from: http://solutions.cmsa.org/acton/fs/blocks/showLandingPage/a/10442/p/p-0005/t/page/fm/0/r/-/s/?sid=TV2:7nNvPURis (Visited 8/23/17).
4. “Nursing Case Management.” Retrieved from: http://www.nursecredentialing.org/NurseSpecialties/CaseManagement.aspx (Visited 8/23/17).
5. “ACM Certification Exam.” Retrieved from: https://www.acmaweb.org/acm/ (Visited 8/23/17).
6. “Registered Nurses: Job Outlook.” Retrieved from: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm#tab-6 (Visited 8/23/17).
7. “Where Does a Case Manager Work? “Retrieved from: http://solutions.cmsa.org/acton/fs/blocks/showLandingPage/a/10442/p/p-0007/t/page/fm/0/r/-/s/?sid=TV2:7nNvPURis (Visited 8/23/17).

For important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended this program, go to www.coloradotech.edu/disclosures. CTU cannot guarantee employment or salary. Not all programs are available to residents of all states. Financial aid is available for those who qualify.

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