Healthcare is an ever-changing field with many different moving parts that must work together to ensure patient care needs are met. There are sometimes multiple healthcare workers tending to one patient, each with his or her own role in the patient's care. A care coordinator's role is to unify all these "moving parts" and act as a liaison between them to make sure care needs are appropriately addressed.

For example, a patient being discharged following a CHF exacerbation may need to follow-up with their primary care provider, cardiology, nutrition services, pharmacist, and home health. A care coordinator helps to link all these specialty departments by arranging appointments, communicating with the necessary parties (including the patient), and ensuring follow-up. Those interested in this rewarding career pathway can enroll in a Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN) program in Care Coordination.

Which MSN in Care Coordination Program Is Right for Me?

Care coordination involves clinical knowledge and administrative acumen, which is why a master's-level nursing program is appropriate. When selecting an MSN program for the care coordination specialty, there are several factors that should be considered:

Program Accreditation

Ensuring that the MSN program is properly accredited is an essential step when selecting a program. While some schools are regionally or locally accredited, national accreditation ensures there will be no hiccups when it comes to licensing or finding a job. The MSN program should be accredited nationally by the Accreditation Commission for Education in nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) to ensure educational standards are met.

On-Campus vs. Distance Learning

MSN in Care Coordination programs are often offered online, though some schools may offer on-campus options. On-campus programs allow nurses to interact directly with faculty and peers, as well as utilize the school's resources. On the flip side, online programs offer a greater deal of flexibility and self-paced learning. Some nurses learn best with face-to-face instruction, while some like to set their own schedules. Whichever method nurses prefer, there are options.

Sample Coursework

Nurses seeking their MSN in Care Coordination can expect to complete several theoretical courses that pertain to patient care. An example of the required courses can be found on Capella University's website. Courses for this program include:

Core Courses:

  • Communication, Collaboration, and Case Analysis for Master's Learners
  • Evidenced-based practice for Patient-Centered Care and Population Health
  • Quality Improvement
  • Biopsychosocial Concepts for Advanced Nursing
  • Healthcare Law & Policy
  • Economics & Decision-Making
  • Practicum/ Capstone Project

Care Coordination Specialty Courses:

  • Intro to Care Coordination
  • Healthcare Models and Care Coordination
  • Structure and Process in Care Coordination
  • Ethical and Legal Considerations
  • Leadership in Care Coordination

RELATED: Care Coordination Certifications

Program Length

Nurses who wish to earn an MSN in Care Coordination can expect to devote 1-2 years in a master's program. However, since some programs are online, nurses can either choose to spend more or less time to complete the required curriculum as online programs are generally self-paced. To get an idea of how much time may be required, Robert Morris University's program requires approximately 36 total units. Classes there are held on a monthly, weekend-intensive schedule.

Program Cost

One of the most significant considerations when selecting an MSN in Care Coordination program is cost. Students can typically expect to spend around $11,000 to $14,000 to complete a program. Of course, cost varies between schools, location, and learning format (online vs. on-campus), so prospective students should research all costs and fees thoroughly before applying. Most program websites provide a detailed breakdown of cost, and most schools also offer financial aid.

RELATED: MSN in Care Coordination vs MSN in Case Management

Advantages of an Online MSN in Care Coordination Program

While in-person MSN programs are beneficial in terms of personalized, face-to-face instruction, online programs have many benefits as well. For example:

Affordability

In many cases, online programs are overall more affordable. For example, there is no cost to commute or park. Online programs may also not be subject to out-of-state tuition, which helps provide a wider range of educational options for nurses. Additionally, because the courses are self-paced, nurses can take as many or as little courses they choose, which helps to manage the cost of an MSN program.

Flexible Schedule and Program Length

One of the biggest perks of online MSN programs is flexibility. Nurses aren't constrained to a rigid lecture and clinical schedule - they can access the content at any time, and from anywhere. Students can also learn at their own pace, which means they can complete the program quickly, or in a more slow-paced way. This is especially helpful for busy nurses who must balance work and familial responsibilities.

Accessibility & Convenience

Nurses work around the clock. The beauty of online learning is that nurses can access content at any time and at their convenience. All that is needed is internet access and a computer or tablet. Most MSN programs are designed with the knowledge that the students are likely working nurses. In order to set them up for success, accessibility and convenience are a must in an MSN in Care Coordination program.

Program Curriculum

The curriculum for an MSN in Care Coordination can vary between schools. Nurses learn the skills needed to develop a plan of care for patients to ensure their needs are met. Concepts that students can expect to learn include:

  • Patient-centered care planning
  • Population health management
  • Quality improvement
  • Leadership and management
  • Economics
  • Processes in care coordination

What Are the Tuition and Costs for an MSN in Care Coordination Program?

As with specific curriculum, tuition and costs for an MSN program vary between schools. It's important to realize that tuition is just one part of the overall cost of an MSN program. University fees, supplies, graduation fees, books, and technology supplies are all additional costs. An example of the cost for an MSN in Care Coordination program can be found on Capella University's website. They outline a guided education path and flex path. The guided education path runs between $18,270 and $23,490, or $435 per credit. The flex path runs between $8,100 to $18,900 or $2,700 per 12-week billing session.

What Are the Career Options for Nurses with an MSN in Care Coordination?

Nurses with an MSN in Care Coordination can work in various environments such as hospitals, clinics, emergency rooms, long-term care facilities, and home health. Care coordinators are extremely important in today's healthcare arena as it becomes more and more complex, so patients require guidance to navigate the healthcare system. Other roles nurses can hold with an MSN in Care Coordination are:

Care Nursing Organizations & Helpful Resources

OTHER SPECIALTY MSN PROGRAMS:

List of MSN in Care Coordination Programs

Select Your State:

Arizona

SchoolContact Information
Arizona State University
Graduate Certificate Programs
411 N Central Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85004
(480) 965-7788

Minnesota

SchoolContact Information
Capella University
MSN Programs
225 South 6th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55402
(877) 884-0733

Missouri

SchoolContact Information
University of Missouri
MSN Programs

Columbia, MO 65211
(573) 882-0277

Pennsylvania

SchoolContact Information
Robert Morris University
6001 University Blvd.
Moon Township, PA 15108
(800) 762-0097

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