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Many organizations encourage case managers to demonstrate their core competence by seeking a case management certification. A recent industry review by Case Management Advisor and its sister publication, Hospital Case Management, identified 12 certifications common to the case management industry.
However, the results of the American Health Consultants/Case Management Society of America (CMSA) 2000 Case Management Caseload Survey indicate that the CCM (certified case manager) certification from the Commission for Case Management Certification (CMCC) in Rolling Meadows, IL, is by far the most commonly held certification with just less than 69% of case managers reporting having earned a CCM.
Other certifications held by respondents include:
In addition, many case managers indicated by hand-written responses that they have earned multiple certifications.
"CCM was the first certification available to case managers," explains Carrie Engen Marion, RN, BSN, CCM, president of Advocare/Triage in Naperville, IL, who was the first chair of the CCMC and is currently serving again as CCMC chair until May 2001. "It is also the only certification that speaks to the needs of case managers regardless of practice setting and/or discipline. It transcends all lines whereas the other certifications depend on certain practice settings or disciplines and do not meet the needs of the entire industry."
Marion continues, "The CCM is also the only evidence-based credential which is based on available empirical research. The CCMC has the largest data bank of information about what case management is, the process of case management, and how it should be practiced based on information gathered from thousands of case managers, again, from all practice settings and health care disciplines."
Further, she notes, "CCM is accredited by a national accrediting agency that accredits certification bodies. That means CCMC has met some very rigorous standards in their role and function process, the exam process and the eligibility process which adds credibility and validity to the program."
All of that aside, the CCM was quite simply the first on the scene and only time will tell, say others, whether it maintains its top-dog status. "Many CCMs were grandfathered in when the exam was first launched and are just recently renewing their certification," explains Jacqueline J. Birmingham, BSN, MS, RN, CMAC, executive director of Continuum Care Services in Suffield, CT. "When this grandfathered group leaves the profession, I fear the number of CCMs will drop dramatically. I predict this will happen in the next few years — it will be interesting to see what happens."
Birmingham argues that the CCM does not fit every case management practice and that case managers should search for other certification programs that better meet their own professional needs. "Case managers whose experience and current practice don’t meet the CCM requirements should be directed to other accrediting bodies who certify the specialty in which the case manager practices. Certification is not one size fits all." (Many case managers find their job descriptions do not meet the CCM eligibility requirements. See "Is your job description a certification roadblock?" in this issue for further discussion.)
"When professionals are evaluating what certification they need," explains Marion, "they must do their homework and make sure they understand the basis of the certification, the eligibility process and the role and function or knowledge domains that the particular certification includes. Then, they must look at their own practices and decide which certification will benefit them most. Certification should not be simply a race to see who can get the most initials after their name."
Still, many employers advertise positions as "CCM-required" or "CCM-preferred," notes Peter Moran, RN, BSN, MS, Cm, CCM, nurse case manager with Harvard Pilgrim Health Care in Wellesley, MA, and chapter president’s representative for the CMSA. "I believe one reason for this trend is that accrediting bodies are asking health care organizations how they ensure their case managers have a basic understanding and the necessary skill sets to practice case management. By requiring case managers to have a nationally recognized certification, such as the CCM, health care organizations do not need to set up a rigid orientation and testing system for its case managers in-house."
Marion agrees, "CCM is recognized by buyers of case management services as well as the employers of case managers. This makes CCM very valuable to the industry as a whole."
Although it has become the "norm" to require certification to practice case management, some health care organizations resist requiring certification as a condition of employment, Moran says, to avoid "being asked to cover the cost of taking the exam, as well as the costs associated with continuing education units required to maintain certification."
Several states require certification in order for professionals to perform case management services in the workers’ comp arena, notes Marion. "The CCM is one of the certifications mentioned in state legislation," she says, adding, "URAC" in Washington, DC, designed part of its Case Management Organization Accreditation program around the number of certified individuals in an organization, so it is becoming more important to have certified staff within a case management organization."
Yet, while health care organizations may not require their case managers to become certified, the profession does, argues Jeanne Boling, MSN, CRRN, CDMS, CCM, executive director of the CMSA. "Certification has not become a requirement for entry into the practice of case management," she says, "but a CCM, or like certification, is necessary for a case manager to continue seriously in a case management career path."
[Editor’s note: See Case Management Advisor, November 2000, for further discussion on case management certification. In addition, case managers can contact the Case Management Society of America’s fax-on-demand line at (877) 869-2672 to request a list of 20 case management certifications.]