Know before you apply: Are you eligible to take the CCM exam?

Posted by Debby Formica on 07/30/2018 - 10:49 AM
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Knowledge of case management terminology and current practice are among the essential elements you’ll need to pass the Certified Case Manager® (CCM®) exam. But earning the CCM is about more than book knowledge—after all, it’s an exam based on what case managers do in daily practice.

Becoming a board-certified case manager requires you to have both the core education (which may be represented by licensure) and experience to practice case management before you even apply to take the test.

Why require education and experience to apply? Because the CCM is a professional certification, validating you have what it takes to grasp the big picture as well as the boots-on-the-ground know-how needed to practice case management.

The Commission expanded CCM exam eligibility requirements in March 2013. With a growing demand for case managers, we recognized the need to increase the ranks. We also acknowledged that case managers with education from across the allied health spectrum can demonstrate they have what it takes to become board certified.

The Commission’s Certification Guide goes into detail about eligibility, but we’ll cover the basics here. Let’s tackle the education requirement first. Applicants must have one (not both, just one) of the following two options to apply:

  • License/certification option: A current, active and unrestricted licensure or certification in a health and human services discipline that allows you to conduct a client assessment independently. Some examples of licenses and certifications that meet this eligibility requirement are: RN, LCSW, LMSW, LPC, CRC and CDMS.
    • The LPN and LVN licenses do not meet the independent assessment criteria, so those licenses don’t qualify candidates to apply for the CCM.
    • If you aren’t sure that your license or certification allows you to practice independently, contact your state governing board to find out.
    • If your license doesn’t qualify you to take the CCM, think about using your degree to apply instead.
    • Just remember, your license needs to be active and current at the time you would take the exam.
  • Higher education option: A bachelor’s or graduate degree in social work, nursing, or another health or human services field that promotes the physical, psychosocial, and/or vocational well-being of those being served.
    • Your degree must be from an accredited institution.
    • The degree, as part of the curriculum, must include supervised field experience in case management, health, or behavioral health. A great example of this is a bachelor’s degree in social work.
    • Do you have a bachelor’s degree, but you’re unsure whether it’s among the many we accept for eligibility? Just call us at 856-380-6836 to find out.

If you have a qualified license AND a qualified degree, choose the option that will support your renewal in the future.

Second comes the experience requirement. For all the options below, the Commission holds that only experience within the past five years should be considered, because health care changes so rapidly (and so does case management practice). Internships, preceptorships, practicum and volunteer experience are not accepted as employment experience.

Experience must be complete at the time you apply (not when you sit for the exam). The criteria are specific about the experience itself to ensure you’re doing comprehensive case management.

For all three options, your experience must include work in at least four of the five core components of case management. These align with the Knowledge Domains on the CCM exam:

  1. Care Delivery and Reimbursement Methods
  2. Psychosocial Concepts and Support Systems
  3. Quality and Outcomes Evaluation and Measurements
  4. Rehabilitation Concepts and Strategies
  5. Ethical, Legal, and Practice Standards.

Within each component, case managers must perform all eight essential activities with direct client contact (assess, plan, implement, coordinate, monitor, evaluate, outcomes, general tasks). Your experience must include providing services across the care continuum and interacting with others in the care system.

The Commission will ask you to provide the name and contact information for a supervisor in order to confirm your work experience. A current email—personal or professional—is required. This is simply the person that you report to (or have reported to) as a case manager, in contrast to the “supervision” required for some licenses, such as social work or licensed professional counselor.

How much qualified experience do you need? The Commission offers three ways for you to meet the requirement:

  • 12 months of acceptable full-time case management employment, supervised by a board-certified case manager (CCM). Your Supervisor must be certified for at least one year at the time of your application.
  • 24 months of acceptable full-time case management employment experience (no supervision by a CCM required under this option).
  • 12 months of acceptable full-time case management employment experience as a supervisor of individuals who provide case management services. This must also fall in the last five years.

What if you work a part-time schedule? The Commission has a formula for that: We’ll pro-rate your experience based on a 37-hour work week (this is automatically calculated when you apply). Check the Certification Guide for details.

If it seems that eligibility criteria are a bit complicated, it’s because we try to ensure there are as many avenues open to qualified case managers as possible to apply for certification, while still ensuring the certification represents case manager excellence. Our goal is to certify and professionally support a qualified, ready workforce. And remember, we want to help, so don’t hesitate to call us at 856-380-6836. 

Comments

good morning, Hope all is well. My comment and question is that I cannot understand why I cannot pass the test. I have been a case manager for 10 years. I went back to school and got my masters degree in case management. I am currently working as an assistant director of case managers. I am confident I know what it takes to be a good case manager. I give my staff the answers and assist them as needed. I encourage to take the test and they pass. Why can't I? I bought the book written by Deanna Cooper Gillingham and read it. I truly am not sure what I am doing wrong. Sorry for the long comment Andree Moise

Thanks for contacting CCMC. Unfortunately, the commission does not recommend or endorse study material. However, we can provide you with information about the exam and where to get started. Please read the Certification Guide (https://ccmcertification.org/sites/default/files/docs/2017/cert_guide_-_6.12.17_new_website_0.pdf), beginning on section 9, page 11, for a break down of each exam domain. We suggest looking over this information and focus on the areas you are not familiar with and study the terms; there are 5 exam domains. We also suggest reviewing your previous exam results, these results are available on your CCM account. Use the Certification Guide as a reference to help you review the areas you are lacking in. Also, please don't forget to utilize our exam study materials webpage (https://ccmcertification.org/get-certified/exam-study-materials).

I have been an RN since 1975, working full time 95% of this time. I earned by BSN from University of MI in 1985. My prior position was as a Case Manager for 8 years for a National Home Health Care Agency. My responsibilities were to manage 15-25 complex skilled patients in the home setting (ventilators, PEGs, many functional limitations, neurological, cardiac, neuromuscular conditions, etc). I also had some unskilled cases, managing home health aides. My current position has been help for & yrs (Sept 2018) as a Care Manager for a Nation wide insurance company. My role is a health educator for Member's re: their chronic conditions so they will understand and manage their health, co-ordinate resources for our Members, advocate for the well-being empower them to become knowledgeable health care consumers. This, in turn, will improve their health outcomes, decrease EMR and/or hospital admits and move this population to more self-managing status. I am thinking of going through this process to become a Certified Case Manager and need more information please. I will do more research on this certification. Thank you so much! Kate Schnur RN

Hi Kate, Thank you for reaching out, we are excited to hear that you are interested in the CCM certification. We recommend starting your research with the Certification and Exam Guides, which can be found here: https://ccmcertification.org/get-certified/certification/guides. If you have any questions feel free to call our Certification Navigators at 856-380-6836.

There is a Controversy in my workplace regarding what constitutes a nurse case manager. I work for an insurance company performing utilization review for workers comp claimants. Does a utilization review nurse qualify as a nurse case manager? I perform prior surgical authorization, determine causal relationship and perform retro reviews. Thank you in advance.

Thank you for contacting CCMC. Case management is a collaborative process that assesses, plans, implements, coordinates, monitors, and evaluates the options and services required to meet the client's health and human service needs. It is characterized by advocacy, communication, and resource management and promotes quality and cost-effective interventions and outcomes. We recommend reaching out to your employer. Have them clarify the job descriptions and essential responsibilities of nurse case managers in comparison to utilization review nurses. For more clarification about case management, please review the "Definition and Philosophy of Case Management", found here: https://ccmcertification.org/about-ccmc/about-case-management/definition-and-philosophy-case-management.

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