Care coordinators work as liaisons between health care providers and patients to provide the best, most cost-effective care possible.
They help manage schedules and costs, solve problems, and provide patients with a comprehensive understanding of their chronic or complicated medical conditions.
1. Competitive Edge
There is movement within health care organizations to require higher levels of education in nursing, according to Barry. “Many hospitals now require a BSN to hire an entry-level nurse,” she says. “And more and more nurses will need an MSN to move into leadership roles, including care coordination.”
The Institute of Medicine recommends that 80% of nurses should acquire at least a bachelor’s degree by 2020 to meet changing health care needs. Additionally, a follow-up comprehensive study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has shown that higher proportions of BSN-educated nurses are associated with lower patient mortality, lower odds of readmission, shorter lengths of stay, and significant cost savings.
As more nurses earn their BSN, Barry predicts that they’ll need to seek further education to help them advance in the health care field.
2. Gain Expertise
As health care has becomes increasingly sophisticated and complicated, the role of care coordination has become more complex as well.
“Nurses in care coordination need to think beyond the local area,” Barry says. “A master’s gives them a wonderful opportunity to learn best practices in the coordination of care, as well as governmental regulatory initiatives and mandates, and how to put them into practice. They’ll learn national health concerns and the political aspects, too.”
Among the most important skills of care coordination is the fluency in ethical and legal issues of medicine. “There was a time when nurses could wing it,” Barry says. “Not anymore. It all comes down to patient safety. And one of the best way to do that is through education.”
3. Preparation for a Variety of Roles
According to Barry, care coordinators are prepared to work in a variety of different job environments in the health care landscape.
“Using an interdisciplinary approach, nurses can be successful in hospitals, community health centers, IT departments, schools, insurance companies, public health, and government programs,” she says. “Through the MSN, they’ll learn how to communicate and lead teams and bring these elements together, in the best interests of the patient and the patient’s family.”
4. Expanding Existing Knowledge
The MSN will help nurses who have previous experience expand their practice into a coordination role.
“Competency-based education can be an effective way to teach adults who have prior experience,” Barry says, noting that new leadership skills are built on previous experiences. “Nurses need to lead by example. They have to model best practices, including staying engaged and continuing to learn, so they can stay ahead. With the MSN, care coordinators are trained to be proactive, lifelong learners—all for the betterment of patient care.”
Learn more about Capella’s online nursing programs in care coordination: