Elevating Case Management: The Power of Change Agents in Health Care

Posted on 03/18/2024 - 9:00 AM by MaryBeth Kurland, MPA, CAE, ICE-CCP, CCMC CEO

Imagine the catastrophe in client care if one in three health care workers left the profession. Yet a survey last fall revealed that’s exactly what a third of health care workers plan to do in the next year.

In 2017, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) first identified the public health risk of health worker burnout, finding that more than half of doctors, nurses, and other health care workers report its symptoms—emotional exhaustion and a low sense of personal accomplishment at work. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated an already serious problem as an alarming number of professionals left the field.

Surveys fielded by the Commission for Case Manager Certification in 2020-2022 identified stress as a significant challenge for board-certified case managers. Nearly half (45%) of respondents said they were overworked and expected long hours and large caseloads to continue. More than a quarter (27%) cited personal mental health issues, and more than one in 10 said they struggled to adjust to the loss of a loved one due to COVID-19. [1]

The Commission responded to these alarming statistics with tools and educational resources to build resilience and break the cycle of stress and burnout. In early 2023, the Commission joined NAM’s Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience, designed to address the burnout trend by providing health workers with resources and support.

Today, March 18, marks NAM’s  first Health Workforce Well-Being Day of Awareness. The Commission has now joined this initative,  known as the NAM Change Maker Campaign for Health Workforce Well-Being.  The Commission is proud to be one of the hundreds of organizations dedicated to building workforce resilience and well being for today’s  health workforce.

Case managers are a powerful force for positive change when supported and recognized for their contributions to client care. Board-certified case managers (CCMs) are passionate change agents, ready to actively engage with other health care providers to achieve the best outcomes—championing holistic approaches, collaborative efforts, and unwavering commitment to ensure the well-being of those they serve.

The Commission recently asked CCMs to weigh in on how today's case manager can become a change agent within their organizations. Here are some of the responses we received:

Case managers have the unique position of seeing both sides of the story. We know how our organizations function and we also know the experience of our patient/clients with that organization. This situation enables us to learn lessons from our patients' experiences (positive and negative) and use it to improve how we provide care and support.”

I find it very fulfilling when my members say that I’m their angel and I’m the only one who can help them … A case manager should extend and do his or her best to navigate the system, not just for health care, but for all the benefits as well.

I work with mainly elderly high-risk members (multiple co-morbidities), I learned through COVID shutdowns that (1) most were afraid, lonely, and enjoyed my calls, and (2) if I leave the conversation open and the member trusts me, then they tell me medical information that I may not have known.

“The patient's problems were not built overnight and can't all be resolved instantly ... Navigating the most important issues such as safety first and taking steps to address all issues in a timely manner will build rapport and trust!”

Case managers practice compassion and advocate for their clients every day. For its part, the Commission is committed to the advancement of case management as it promotes, advances and advocates for consumer protection, quality case management practice, ethical standards, and knowledge development through certification, education, and related programs. In our alignment with the NAM Change Maker Campaign, we’ve developed a suite of resources to help case managers practice the self-care and resilience habits that will help them thrive:

The Commission is empowering case managers to overcome burnout and take pride in the significance of their role. By fostering resilience and well-being, these critical health care professionals maintain the drive to consistently deliver case management excellence.

We all have a part to play to build a stronger, compassionate, and more resilient health  workforce. The National Plan for Health Workforce Well-Being provides action steps for health care leaders to improve well-being. As the health care industry navigates challenges, the need for organizations to step up as change agents is great. By supporting initiatives aimed at empowering not only case managers, but all health care professionals in addressing burnout, we can build a stronger, more resilient health care system that prioritizes the health and well-being of both those receiving care, and those providing it.

1. “A Call to Action: Driving Positive Impact 2023 COMPENDIUM.” Ccmcertification.org, Commission for Case Manager Certification, Jan. 2023,