One of the biggest challenges case management directors face is balancing the need to fill the vacancy quickly with the importance of hiring the right person, says Tina Wiseman, MEd, chief administrative officer of Novia Solutions. “Leadership shouldn’t drag their feet, but they shouldn’t make snap decisions,” she says.

Before starting the hiring process, case management leadership should look at the current staff’s characteristics and list the skills the ideal candidate should have, Wiseman says.

“This activity helps you understand the dynamics of your team and what a good candidate for the position would be. That helps you to find an applicant who will fit in,” she says.

Recruiting case managers in today’s world must be very strategic, Wiseman says. “The candidate has to align with key hospital goals and has to be an individual who is malleable and who can work with external as well as internal colleagues,” she says.

Case management leaders must understand all the critical factors that make case managers successful in their particular hospital. “You want a good fit, but you also want someone who will stay,” she says.

Examine the current case management team and the interdisciplinary team and how they work. Is the team collaborative, or do the members work as individuals? Then, choose a candidate who will fit into the dynamics of the team, Wiseman suggests.

Start the recruiting process by looking at the model the case management department is using, says Mindy Owen, RN, CRRN, CCM, principal owner of Phoenix Healthcare Associates in Coral Springs, FL, and senior consultant for the Center for Case Management.

“You have to have a good understanding of what the model is before you can look for what characteristics the person you hire should have,” she adds.

Questions to consider when hiring a case manager include the following:

• Is the case manager responsible for utilization management as well as discharge planning and care coordination?

• Are social workers part of the department?

• Is there a strong case management assistant program?

• Is a physician advisor team embedded in the department?

“One of the critical things to consider is the type of clinical background the person should have. Can a nurse with experience in the intensive care unit adjust to coordinating care for other types of patients, or do you need someone with a general background for this particular job?” Wiseman says.

Other questions to think about include:

• Do you need a nurse or a social worker?

• How should the new person fit into the overall dynamics of the department and the organization?

Consider the types of patients you serve, Wiseman suggests. For instance, a safety net hospital may need case managers with a different type of background from those who will fit in a hospital that treats few unfunded patients.

“It’s important to dissect your patient population to determine the critical clinical background needed,” she says.

Don’t turn the entire recruiting and hiring process over to the human resources department, warns Catherine M. Mullahy, RN, BSN, CCRN, CCM, president and founder of Mullahy and Associates in Huntington, NY.

Case management directors and managers must be involved in the recruitment process, she says. At the very least, the department leadership should create a profile of the ideal case manager and share it with the human resources staff so appropriate candidates can be selected, she says.

“It is essential for the human resources staff to understand the requirements, responsibilities, past experience, and education that the case management department looks for in good candidates,” Mullahy says.