A very strange year: How the Commission adapted to the pandemic, supported CCM & CDMS certificants and transformed testing
I must begin with this: Thank you. As I look at the past year, and especially the past six months, I’m full of gratitude for the CCM and CDMS certificants, the Board, volunteer's and the Commission's staff. We made it through an exceptionally trying time.
As board chair for 2019-2020 and 2020-2021, I’ve been fortunate to help shape initiatives that support our certificants in this unprecedented time. As we’ve adjusted and moved forward, the Board and I have drawn tremendous inspiration from you. We know how much COVID-19 has personally affected you. Your resilience and your dedication to your clients and to your profession are deeply encouraging. It motivates us to renew our commitment to advance the highest quality standards in the industry.
As part of that commitment, we continue to ensure the CCM and CDMS exams reflect the activities you perform each day. We recently released the CCM Role and Function study results, and we’ll soon release the CDMS Role and Function findings. I’m thrilled we successfully completed those two projects during the pandemic. Because of these studies, we know our certificants are tested on the most current knowledge.
We’ve also improved how people can take the exams.
Adapting the exam to the era
COVID has forever changed how we learn and communicate. It has accelerated such trends as flexible training and virtual learning. We’ve capitalized on these trends to better support our certificants and applicants.
I’m especially proud of how quickly the Commission rolled out remote proctoring for the CCM and CDMS exams. Could you have imagined this five years ago?
Test-takers can safely complete the exam from the comfort of their homes, and we can ensure the integrity of the exam and the credential. We’ve been considering this for a while, but the pandemic forced us to move quickly. Our staff, working with our testing partners, implemented this in just three months. I am confident the benefits will long outlive the pandemic.
We’ve also extended deadlines, offered no-cost CE credits, and made other changes that allow people to more readily obtain and maintain certification. We’re reaching out to former CCMs who didn’t renew to identify the barriers they faced. Are they facing hardship? If so, can we help?
It comes down to this: If case managers are going to meet the needs of all Americans, we must be able to meet their needs. As health care delivery transforms over the next few years, CCM & CDMS certificants will be playing integral roles. As a Board, we must make sure they have the tools and support what they need to move ahead.
Cultivating the future
We’ve reprioritized many initiatives, but one area of focus remains untouched: mentorship. It’s been a multi-year endeavor, one begun by my predecessor, Jeannie LeDoux, RN, BSN, MBA, CCM, CPHQ, CTT+. I’m proud to carry that torch forward.
Mentors offer knowledge, leadership, experience—and sorely needed encouragement. Even the most seasoned professional needs guidance—or at least an occasional nudge. During the last year, the Commission has redoubled its effort to provide resources that help mentors and proteges continue to learn and grow during this strange time.
Mentorship benefits individual case managers, and it also plays a crucial role in the Commission’s governance. We must cultivate and mentor the leaders of tomorrow. As my term draws to a close, I think about what the Commission will look like in the next three, five, 20 years. Are we prepared for the changes and challenges ahead? How will we lead? Who will lead?
Board development: protecting the future
To that end, my Board colleagues and I are further documenting expectations for strong board leadership and participation, so individuals can better know what to expect when they step into that role. None of this is new but codifying these traditional board processes provides a more transparent approach to governance, leadership development and succession planning. We are, after all, your Board.
As you probably know, in June 2020, the Board of Commissioners voted to maintain the 2019-2020 executive committee through 2020-2021. One of the unanticipated benefits of this was the time to focus on leadership development and peer mentoring. In addition, we started recruiting potential new board members in December; typically, we do that in the spring. The changes have allowed more time for current board members to offer insights, identify and nurture our future leaders. These steps create a clearer pathway to business continuity and a smooth volunteer leadership transition.
As we enter a changed world, we’ll need leaders who are prepared. I’m gratified to be part of making that happen.
All of this is part of a larger board effort to foster volunteerism—encourage CDMS and CCM certificants to become more engaged. We’re calling on you to share your strength, talent and energy not just with the Commission but also our professional community.
At the same time, we realize case managers are overwhelmed.
Time to breathe
We refocused our efforts on sustaining CCM & CDMS certificants as they grapple with personal and professional challenges. They are already overloaded. Their day starts early in the morning, builds throughout the day, and does not stop when they get home. We honor and respect that, but we are mindful that to be effective, you need to take a breath. We’ve tried to offer opportunities to breathe through our Push Pause: Stop. Exhale. Share. campaign which features short videos from inspirational speakers who share words of hope, inspiration, motivation, and wisdom. We listened to them ourselves during our midyear Board meeting to level-set our thinking and work throughout.
Legacy of communication
I’d like to think that my legacy will be better transparency through communication and outreach to our community.
Through our website, our blogs, our surveys, and programs such as Push Pause, we’ve been able to reach out to CCM & CDMS certificants more than ever before. We’ve also improved board communications. We’re able to discuss issues openly and disagree respectfully. We are one Board, with no factions. Improved communication has led to a climate of positivity—something I strive to keep.
Strengthening the Board internally also benefits those we serve. We are ambassadors of the Commission, and we take that seriously. We need to make sure the case management community has our support today, tomorrow and when the pandemic ends.
Michelle Baker, BS, RN, CRRN, CCM
Commission for Case Manager Certification®