CM advice from the trenches
Being self-employed means lots of work
A lot of people think they want to work for themselves, but they find out it’s not glamorous, and it does take a lot of hard work, says BK Kizziar, RN-BC, CCM, owner of BK & Associates, a Southlake, TX, case management consulting firm.
Before you go out on your own as an independent case manager, talk to case managers who have their own businesses and do research so you understand what it means to be self-employed, Kizziar advises.
Cheryl Acres, RN, CCM, owner of Comprehensive Care Management, LLC, based in suburban Dallas, has been an independent case manager since 2007. She advises people to spend a lot of time weighing the advantages of the different routes you can take: developing a company with a partner, working for a pre-existing case management business, or becoming a solo practitioner. "Weigh each option very carefully, just like you’d do if you were researching any job," she says.
Before you go into business with a partner, make sure you both have the same goals in mind and the same moral and ethical compasses, Acres says.
Understand that referrals are not going to automatically come rolling in. You have to network and market yourself and have confidence in your abilities, Kizziar says.
The Internet and social media are a good way to get your name out there, Acres says. Develop a website and make it easy to find, she says. Her website is www.txcasemanager.com. "I chose this because that’s what I am — a Texas case manager," she says.
If you’re going out on your own, you need to be able to articulate verbally and in writing, says Teresa M. Treiger, RN-BC, MA, CHCQM-CM, CCM, principal of Ascent Care Management, LLC, in Holbrook, MA.
"Good communication skills are essential," she says.
Your peer network at work may be a great resource, but you can’t rely on them when you’re out on your own, Treiger points out. "Going solo will be more challenging if you don’t have a large network of professional colleagues in all disciplines," she says.
Choose your network of colleagues carefully, she advises. "Think about who you want your name associated with," she says.
Early on, don’t waste your time going after the massive contracts, Treiger says.
"The big companies, such as Deloitte and Accenture, will get the big contracts because they have the bandwidth to address multiple layers of needs. As a solo consultant, I do not have that intensity of resources at my fingertips," she says. However, Treiger advises case managers to keep their options open because they might be part of a big project as a subcontractor if they are willing to take a secondary role.
For instance, a large company with Medicaid contracts needed somebody to do education and Treiger was able to fill that role.
Try to take a mixture of long-term arrangements and short assignments to avoid having a period of time when you don’t have an active job, Kizziar suggests.
If someone comes to you with a request for work that is outside of your expertise, turn it down or refer it to a colleague who does have the knowledge. Do the same if you get a referral and you have a full workload.
"It affects your credibility if you take on jobs when you don’t have expertise or are already up to your ears in work. It’s important to know your limits and not exceed them," she says.