CM credentials becoming more important than ever

Process helps public understand case manager role

It’s disturbing to Mindy Owen, RN, CRN, CCM, when she encounters someone who calls him- or herself a case manager but whose job description doesn’t sound like case management at all.

"Case management tends to be a buzz word, a title that everybody wants to have. The job descriptions inside case management have become so varied that they don’t always reflect case management or the function and skill sets needed for case management," adds Owen, chair of the ethics committee and a member of the executive board of the Commission on Certification of Case Managers (CCMC).

If Owen, an experienced case manager, is puzzled by what some people who call themselves case managers actually do, she wonders how a layperson can ever know whether someone whose title is case manager actually is practicing case management.

Having the certified case manager (CCM) credential can help end some of the confusion, she adds.

"The certification ensures that the individual has a basic knowledge of case management and practices with the understanding of the standards of practice and the code of conduct," Owen says.

Case manager certification can’t assure that the individual case manager has more than basic knowledge, it at least provides some way that the public can find case managers who understand and work from the code of conduct and standards of practice, she adds.

Catherine Mullahy, RN, BS, CRRN, CCM, of Options Unlimited, and a member of the original task force that determined a need for a case management credential, agrees.

"Then as now there is, unfortunately, an increasing need for the protection of consumers against what some may purport to do as case management but what in reality is not case management. Case management is a practice that requires so much expertise, knowledge, and experience that it is helpful to have a credentialing certification in place to allow patients and families to level the playing field," she says.

Credentialing offers the public a measure of understand about the case manager’s education, experience, and knowledge. It shows the case manager’s commitment to continuing his or her education in order to better serve the public, adds Patricia McCollom, MS, RN, CRRN, CMDM, CCM, CLCP of Management Consulting and Rehabilitation Service Inc. in Ankeny, IA.

The essence of case management is critical thinking and creativity, since goals may be different from one case to another. There is no cookie-cutter practice. McCollom says.

"There is a huge need for credentialing in the case management field. Nursing has a well-accepted body of knowledge that can be put together into criteria for entry into practice. It’s not the same in case management," adds Carrie Ann Engen, RN, BSN, CCM, president of EnvisionCare Alliance Inc., of Naperville, IL.

Case management is a not a profession, it’s a specialty practice, she maintains. "It’s transdisciplinary in nature and includes social workers, nurses, counselors, psychologists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists, all of whom do case management," Engen says.

Dealing with behavioral problems

Managing care of patients with behavioral health issues is a major concern these days. Research has shown that patients who are depressed and those who don’t take their medication for psychological disorders are hospitalized frequently and have higher health care costs than the norm. In this issue, we’ll show you how a health plan screens patients with chronic disease for case management and why it also screens new mothers. You’ll learn how to maintain patient confidentiality in a depression management program and how to get help in setting up your program. We’ll give you tips from an expert on how to improve compliance for patients on antipsychotic drugs.