I completed the Kaplan Case Management Program a couple years ago. Was looking for something new and decided to give it a try. The program is a total of 8 classes and self paced. Must be completed in one year. When one applies to the program, a liason from Kaplan will contact you and interview you over the phone - for a sense of what you feel case managers role is and what abilities you have that would be an asset to a CM position. The program encompasses all aspects of case management and I feel is quite comprehensive. This program does not have a clinical component so learning is entirely from self study.
Before I enrolled in Kaplan I had applied for a position as CM at the community hospital where I was working as staff nurse. At this time the department had recently undergone a lot of changes and much turnover in staff. The director did not want to hire anyone with out experience as no one to orient new CMs. After I completed the program I started to look around for a new position. Did apply for a UR nurse job (different manager) but didn't get the position - though I feel interview went well and the manager even said "I can see you did your homework". I work for a large hospital system and went to the job opportunitys site and requested to be notified when CM position was listed. A few weeks later I recieved a notice to check open positions, applied, interviewed and was offered a position at he main campus of the health system (major tertiary medical center).
I think the Kaplan program has helped widen my knowledge base and did give me an edge since I has no CM experience. My director does hire CMs without experience. One needs to have a broad range of nursing experience and preferably have worked in a large teaching institution. Also, need to have a high tolerance level for stress and change and be able to work autonomously. I have been a nurse for 25+ years and have experience in med-surg, worked at another large teaching hospital in peds for almost 10 years, LTC, nursing education, etc.
Currently have been a CM now for almost two years. Had a very thorough orientation and learned to CM all services in the institution - peds, critical care, all med-surg services. Everyone starts out as a floater and eventually is offered a permanent assignment - usually one to two years. I floated until a few months ago. I do discharge planning primarily - not utilization review. I thoroughly enjoy the job. Certainly has ups and downs like anything else. I have found it to be stressful at times, but so is staff nursing. Experience has taught me alot and I have learned to prioritize and handle various situations that arise on a day to day basis.
Hope this info is helpful and good luck!