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CCM preparation with ethics in mind: Swim with the current, stand like a rock

Posted on 08/15/2019 - 9:24 AM

“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” When it comes to helping case management clients achieve their goals, Thomas Jefferson’s words were never truer. Every day, case managers need flexibility while standing firmly on ethical principles and standards.

When you earn the CCM, you’ve demonstrated you have the knowledge and skills to practice with excellence. But CCMs also represent a professional code and standard of practice. The Commission’s values include advocacy for consumer protection, quality case management practice, and ethical standards and behavior. That’s why the CCM exam includes the ethics, legal and practice standards knowledge domain.

Professional ethics are integral to case management. Becoming board-certified isn’t just about knowing facts and demonstrating skills. Case management requires critical thinking and good judgment. We want to nurture a case management community that asks questions and considers the implications and consequences of our actions in the context of ethical principles.

Naturally, exam preparation should include the study and understanding of the ethical, legal and practice standards of case management. The Commission’s Code of Professional Conduct for Case Managers (the Code) is the best place to start. It includes eight overarching principles and six rules of conduct, plus the scope of practice, standards for conduct, and the procedures for anyone to file a complaint. It intentionally provides a framework—not specifics—for ethical practice so case managers understand their responsibility to apply the Code wisely, practicing good judgment.

The Code, which is accepted across the industry as the ethical standard for case managers, was adopted by the Commission on November 1996 and was last updated in 2015. In many ways, it defines the profession and undergirds our ability to practice independently. Case managers who carry the CCM credential commit to advocating ethically for their clients, putting the client’s safety, privacy, and autonomy first.

In the context of an ever-changing health care landscape, it’s telling that the eight principles maintain their applicability. For example, the first principle, “Board-certified case managers will place the public interest above their own at all times,” ensures that we actively advocate for the client. That ethical standard helps all board-certified case managers uphold consumer trust. These principles and standards provide the ethical baseline for case managers and the support needed to take a stand when challenged by an employer, a caregiver or anyone else. Because board-certified case managers agree to follow the code, we can say with confidence, “I can’t do that,” while pointing to the Code and explaining why.

Because eight ethics CEs are required every five years for recertification, the Commission also provides a range of ethics continuing education materials. You can take advantage of one of these opportunities to view materials and then quiz your understanding of the Code at no charge, all on the CMLearning Network® platform. You only need your ccmcertification.org to log in—the same one you created when you applied for certification.

The Commission’s Code, exam, education requirements, CMLearning Network and Case Manager Body of Knowledge® contribute to our overall vision for the advancement and evolution of case management. As board-certified case managers, our commitment to the Code sets us apart as advocates who recognize that our actions or inactions play a critical role in helping clients achieve optimal health.


Hi Vivian, I attended part one of the 360 training this past Saturday with you and Ellen and found it to be outstanding. Your teaching style, examples, real life experience were excellent. I felt really inspired in my work to take back some of the principles and critical thinking skills taught to continue to be the best advocate I can for the patients and families whom I work with. Thank you. Congratulations on your daughter's upcoming wedding as well. Enjoy.

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