We all know that health care has experienced a turbulent few years. In the face of daunting issues such as workforce shortages exacerbated by the pandemic and sharp increases in stress, case managers and other care staff have had to adapt, or even exit the field as a result. However, with a rapidly changing health care system and a strong demand for team-based coordinated care, the role of the professional case manager grows increasingly vital to deliver safe, effective, and appropriate care for clients facing complex health care challenges. Meanwhile, the site and nature of case management is evolving, opening a crucial conversation about the future of essential health care advocacy in this space.
Every few years, the Commission surveys board-certified case managers to gauge the state and future of case management, helping us understand the needs of board-certified case managers while informing our education and advocacy. The results of the most recent Trend survey are illustrated in an eBook, "Growth, Benefits and Value: 2023 Insight into Today’s CCM Certificant."
Our survey uncovered that respondents who supervise case managers highly value the credential, and 86% of respondents reported that certification has benefited their career. In addition, responses indicate that CCM certificants tend to receive high pay and stability. Respondents’ median annual salaries have risen since 2019, ranging from $90,000–$100,000, with pay often higher than that of social workers and registered nurses not in case management, the two most common backgrounds among certificants. Seventy-seven percent (77%) of respondents report salaries above $80,000, and 36% report salaries above $100,000; with 75% having received a pay raise in the last 12 months prior to the survey. These findings illustrate the tremendous value and professional excellence that CCM certificants bring to the various care settings in which they work.
The site of work is also changing, carrying implications for how we deliver programming. Our survey respondents indicated that CCM certificants are increasingly likely to work remote or hybrid, which validates our decision to embrace the shift to digital and virtual formats for the Commission’s professional development activities. Further, respondents indicated that online offerings remain the most utilized and preferred methods of earning continuing education credits, while face-to-face and home study offerings are declining in use and preference.
Our virtual format is accessible for certificants working remotely and those who can’t leave the workplace to attend in-person programming. We’ve focused on further developing our virtual products and services, including the CMLearning Network®, Certification 24/7™ webinars, Case Management Body of Knowledge, CDMS Core Knowledge Curriculum (CKC), podcasts, and Virtual Symposium—whose live interaction and engagement opportunities differentiates it from typical virtual conferences. The Commission plans to sustain this flexible approach and avoid getting stuck in one format. We will continuously evaluate various ways to deliver excellence while providing lifelong learning opportunities, including methods to address increasing levels of burnout among certificants.
The pandemic intensified the stressful effects of staffing shortages on an already stretched and aging workforce. In fact, many case managers were pulled out of their roles and back to the bedside. It’s no wonder that the workforce has seen rapid departures in the last few years. We are seeing the impacts of this at the Commission, both in new applications and re-certification, as well as volunteer and subject matter expert engagement and availability. The exhaustion is widespread, and understandably so. It’s why we’ve introduced such programming as “Push Pause,” to encourage CCM & CDMS certificants to take moments for self-care and reflection during these stressful times.
Our Trend Survey also found that responding CCM certificants who are supervisors are managing dramatically larger teams. From 2018 to 2022 survey results, the number of people that case managers supervise doubled in four years. The percentage of respondents managing over 41 case managers rose from 5% to 10%, and some manage as many as 300 to 500. This could be the result of mergers and acquisitions but may also have to do with an aging workforce represented in supervisory roles that are now retiring or leaving the workforce, leading to fewer people managing larger numbers of people. Given these developments, employers will need to optimize care teams and systematize the case management process to best manage clients across all different settings. It’s a tall order, and an area where the Commission can help. Between growing demands, multiple case managers employed at each organization, and overall staffing shortages, employers may need to consider partnering with organizations like the Commission to prepare their teams and move towards certification.
At a time when many have exited health care professions, the need for case managers may be higher than ever, to ensure coordinated care through a team-based approach, focused on smooth transitions and integrated case management. As the population ages and faces more complex health issues, the importance of quality case management practice will only grow more apparent. This demand will require employers to think about how they invest in these areas. With high volume and fewer people to do the job, case managers and organizations will likely rely more heavily on technology to help triage and prioritize cases. Current shortages may further highlight the value that individuals who have now left the profession once brought to the table. Many salaries in health care will likely continue to rise in order to attract more talent.
As organizations seek to draw more case managers into the profession to meet this rising demand, we must also focus on attracting qualified individuals that have been typically underrepresented in our workforce by raising interest in the profession. This necessitates new, effective approaches such as outreach within underserved communities to cultivate understanding of the value and impact of case management. We’re assessing how the Commission can further provide education to familiarize individuals and the health care community with case management, so that they can learn about, support and perhaps and seek certification as part of their professional pathway if eligible. The Commission has already been working to improve diverse representation across the workforce prior to the pandemic, and within the context of the new workforce and health care environment, those efforts are even more critical.
The Commission is also focused on less traditionally represented professional groups that work in case management, aiming to bring more professionals from areas like mental health, occupational and physical therapy that are qualified and already doing case management. Numerous people play a part in each client’s care, and many of those client care team members may qualify to become a board-certified case manager. We must assess employers’ wider workforce of case managers across different areas beyond nurses and social workers. In other words, we should be looking to professionals who have appropriate qualifications and meet eligibility. For example, many mental health professionals, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and pharmacists may perform case management but may not necessarily consider themselves case managers; however, they may be eligible to become certified due to their education, licensure, work experience and understanding and use of the case management process. By shifting the perceptions of who is a case manager, we can help all potential certificants understand how certification can benefit their careers and their ability to coordinate better care for their clients.
We know it's going to take time to rebuild the workforce. I'm hopeful that the Commission can play a part in that by continuing to highlight the value of case managers, professional certification, case management, and lifelong learning. The Commission will continue to seek new ways to reach current and prospective CCM certificants, all while improving diverse representation and continuing to empower the professional and board-certified case managers who advocate tirelessly for clients every day.
 Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/
 Commission for Case Manager Certification. (2022) 2022 Checking on Our CCMs: COVID-19 [Unpublished raw data].
 Mensik H. Over 200,000 healthcare workers quit jobs last year. Healthcare Dive. Published October 26, 2022. https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/covid-pandemic-healthcare-burnout-providers-quit-jobs/634946/