Nurse case managers from across the Regional Health Command Europe footprint recently came together for three days of networking and training.

The third annual RHCE Nurse Case Manager training provided NCMs across Europe with updates in practice, documentation, and service and also provided new NCMs with Europe specific rules and processes, according to Col. Andrew Baxter, RHCE Regional Nurse Executive.

NCMs are registered nurses who coordinate all aspects of care for individual patients who would benefit from additional support. Patients can be assigned a NCM through a referral from their primary care manager or doctor. Additionally, NCMs work closely with clinic staff to ensure the needs of the patient are met.

NCMs can help a patient arrange for anything from an in-home oxygen tank; setting up specialty care; ensuring they get their medication; to providing them with community resources available to help with their specific condition.

"Case managers are an extension of the care team," said Cathy Bailey, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center NCM. "We utilize our clinical skills and best practices to meet the holistic needs of our patients and families."

Case management across the U.S. European Command area of responsibility is complex and is often different from what is found in the states. RHCE nurse case managers deal with not only enrolled active duty service members, their families, retirees, civilians and contractors, but also regionally aligned forces deployed in Eastern European countries.

"Sometimes it's a simple, one and done," Bailey said. "However, more often than not, you are coordinating and collaborating care for patients and families with complex needs; working with the clinic [patient centered medical home] team, external staff and network resources to ensure we have a holistic comprehensive care plan with the best possible outcomes for our patients."

Bailey said the workshop wouldn't be what it is without the subject matter experts who present and share knowledge with the NCMs.

"Sharing their knowledge to ensure we are kept abreast of the latest policies, rules or upcoming changes is invaluable to us," Bailey said.

Recently, medical evacuation flights from Ramstein Air Base back to the states went from two times a week down to one. Because NCMs play a huge role in the MEDEVAC process and ensuring patients who need to get back to the states can, this change was one of the many topics discussed during the training.

Rebecca Campbell, NCM at Hohenfels Army Health Clinic, attended the training for the first time this year and said she was impressed with the quality of the sessions.

"As a result of hearing from the subject matter experts directly, we are better equipped to complete our mission with less stress and greater confidence," Campbell said.

Case management is unique in Europe as it often "crosses multiple countries, languages, laws and regulations, and the TRICARE benefit is different for retirees, Department of the Army civilians and contractors than found in the states," Baxter said.

Because of the complexity, annual trainings provide the best outlet for sharing information.

Additionally, Bailey said, "you've interfaced over the phone with case managers in outlying areas such as Bavaria, Vicenza, and Belgium, to coordinate and collaborate acute care needs, or just to gather information. The workshop provides the opportunity to place a face with the name of the person you've been talking with over the past year. That always brings excitement, especially after you both have been involved with the same case or similar cases."

Campbell agreed, and also said the workshop serves as a morale booster as well.

"Nurse case managers frequently encounter burnout from the heavy caseloads and this was a great, educational respite," she said.

For more information on RHCE, visit http://rhce.amedd.army.mil/.