Plans for managing multiple chronic conditions or navigating several overlapping health care systems are complex. The need for qualified care managers to help families and organizations has never been higher. In fact, the job market for roles in care management is expected to increase 16 percent through 2026.

To educate more health care professionals to facilitate high-quality care, the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing is launching a new program — the 100 percent online master of science in care management.

“As a nurse who has also held a care management role, I can attest to the necessity for a program like this one,” said Amber Vroman, nursing instructor in the new Mizzou program. “There are only eight online programs of this kind in the U.S. Care managers play such a critical role in increasingly complex health care environments; we really need to focus on developing their skills and abilities.”

An interdisciplinary approach

The MU program also is unique because it seeks to enroll students working in several areas of health care, not just from nursing. Those with backgrounds in public health, social work and medicine are encouraged to apply.

Interdisciplinary course work is the hallmark of the program. Students will take courses from the School of Social Work and the Department of Health Management and Informatics, as well as the Sinclair School of Nursing. 

“One of the most important factors of being an effective care manager is their ability to work with a team of health care providers,” said Robin Harris, associate dean for academic affairs at the Sinclair School of Nursing. “While we teach our students how to do this, it’s important that we bring in the perspectives of faculty from other health disciplines.”

The program’s curriculum is designed with flexibility to tailor to the student’s areas of interest and practice. Students gain knowledge of health informatics, research, policy, quality and safety.

Career-advancing credentials

In addition to providing interdisciplinary knowledge, the care management master’s program helps professionals advance their careers and take on fulfilling roles in health care. Care managers are instrumental in delivering compassion to individuals and families at times of high need.

“For health care professionals looking to step out of a bedside practice role and into care management or those in care management related roles who wish to advance their education, this program is a perfect fit,” said Vroman. “And although the role is not as focused on direct care, care managers still have the ability to really make a difference in patients’ lives.”

Vroman and other faculty hold advanced nursing and research degrees — they know what it’s like to study while working full-time. They are focused on giving students the most current best practices and knowledge to help them succeed in their careers and beyond.

“Sinclair School of Nursing faculty provide a comprehensive understanding of not only nursing, but other important subjects like care management and participatory health research,” said Sinclair School of Nursing Dean Sarah Thompson. “Teaming up with other innovative departments at Mizzou to develop the courses and making them available online? That is a winning combination.”

Finish in less than three years

The care management master’s is 33 credit hours; students can graduate in three years or less. The program is currently accepting applications for the fall semester.