Discover what a care coordinator does, potential salary, the skills and education required for this position, and how to get started.
A care coordinator is a health care professional responsible for managing patient care by monitoring treatment plans, educating patients on their conditions, and connecting them to relevant health care providers. If you’re considering a career in health care and have a flair for leadership, an excellent ability to communicate with others to translate information in a way that they can understand, with a genuine desire to help people, a care coordinator job might be for you. Working as a care coordinator can be an attractive option with a higher than average salary for a care profession and a positive job outlook.
A care coordinator takes a leadership role when it comes to managing and monitoring the care of patients. They are responsible for coordinating each patient's care, which may come from multiple providers, and ensuring effective treatment plans. They connect patients with relevant care professionals, work to educate patients on their conditions, and monitor progress. Care coordinator jobs are common in hospitals, insurance companies, and care organizations.
Care coordinator job descriptions vary slightly depending on the employer, organization, and types of patients they work with. Still, in general, you will be responsible for the following as a care coordinator:
Consulting with patients on their health conditions and current treatment
Educating patients on their conditions and discussing medication and treatment options
Working with other health care professionals to devise a care plan for each patient
Monitoring and evaluating patient progress
Advocating on behalf of patients
Collaborating on any necessary interventions
Complying with health care regulations and ensuring patient confidentiality
Care coordinators work in various settings, including doctors' offices, hospitals, medical facilities, insurance companies, and non-profits such as community programs and rehabilitation.
Those that work for larger institutions support patients through advocacy, ensuring their needs are met by helping schedule appointments, supporting patients with medical documents and insurance claims, and ensuring they understand the treatment they need.
Care coordinators who work for community programs are more likely to have responsibility for a caseload of clients with varying needs, including the elderly or people with disabilities. Part of a carer coordinator's job description, in this instance, is to help with transportation, payment plans, and anything that might stop patients from getting access to the care they need.
Aside from gaining on-the-job skills through experience, a care coordinator needs a certain skill base to be the right person for the job. The technical and workplace skills you'll need include the following:
Computer skills, including Microsoft Office
Using databases specific to an organization to manage patient data
Ability to translate complex information in a way that patients can understand
Empathy, compassion, and patience
Ability to lead groups of professionals
Skilled at coordinating and organizing
You need a bachelor's degree and experience to work as a care coordinator. However, there is no set route or specific certifications, although you can choose from many that can be beneficial.
A bachelor’s degree is necessary to work as a care coordinator, but there are no accredited courses you must take, as long as your degree is in a relevant field. Many choose majors in business, communications, social work, or a medical field such as health care administration, medical management, public health, or nursing. As well as choosing a relevant major, make sure your minors align with your career choice to give added value.
Read more: A Guide to the Bachelor of Health Science Degree
Experience is critical to entering into this profession, so it is a good idea to consider an internship or placement as part of your degree or in a voluntary capacity. It’s common for people to work their way up to a care coordinator position by starting in entry-level care roles such as a medical clerk or health care information technician. Others move into the role after working as registered nurses or in similar positions.
To succeed in the role of care coordinator, it’s essential that you know the care system you’re working. That makes it possible to navigate and coordinate treatment while knowing where changes can be made and understanding the roles of the professionals you work.
Generally, you do not need a license to work as a care coordinator; however, exceptions exist. Having a license is required in by all states to work in nursing homes, and some states require a social worker license. Do your research to make sure you have all you need for the area you’re working.
In addition to a degree, it’s common for care coordinators to advance onto master’s programs in a relevant field. In addition to this, you can explore several certification routes.
The Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (PAHCOM) offers certification in medical management. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers certification in health information management. More specific options are also available, such as a certified nursing home administrator certification offered by the American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA).
In addition to these certifications, keep up with continued education to increase your chances of advancing in your career.
Read more: What Is a Master of Public Health (MPH) Degree?
How much can you earn as a care coordinator?
A care coordinator's salary is $38,111 on average, increasing to as high as $161,000 with experience and a higher level of education, according to Glassdoor .
The career outlook for care coordinators is good. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the industry to grow at a rate of 32 percent between 2020 and 2030 , which is much higher than average.
Regarding career progression, working as a care coordinator can be a stepping stone to more senior leadership and administrative roles. This could be a care manager position, something more specialized such as a patient care coordinator, a nurse case manager, or a step up to top levels as an executive of a care organization. Typically these higher levels require a master’s degree and years of experience.
If you’re interested in a care coordinator role and starting at the beginning, consider taking an online Introduction to Healthcare course offered by Stanford University on Coursera. You could also go a bit deeper with a Value-Based Care Specialization offered by the University of Houston.
Learn About Value-Based Care. Learn the fundamentals and real-world application of value-based care that has become integral to improving outcomes in health care. Explore the power of effective communication between healthcare professionals and patients that leads to a partnership focused on quality care.
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1. Glassdoor. “Care Coordinator Salaries, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/patient-care-coordinator-salary-SRCH_KO0,24.htm.” Accessed August 25, 2022.
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook. Medical and Health Service Managers, tab 6, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm#tab-6.” Accessed August 25, 2022.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.