1. Campagna, Vivian MSN, RN-BC, CCM

Article Content

Twenty-five years ago, in July 1992, with the convening of a taskforce to finalize the definition of case management, an important step was taken on the road to establishing certification for professional case managers. A year later, in June 1993, the first test was administered for the inaugural class of Certified Case Managers (CCMs). I was one of them.

Figure. No caption a... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. No caption available.

To date, the Commission for Case Manager Certification (CCMC), the largest and oldest nationally accredited organization that certifies case managers, has bestowed its credential on about 60,000 case managers. Currently, there are more than 42,000 board-certified case managers in practice. But, 25 years ago, case management was an emerging area. Establishing certification was critical for setting standards of practice and, most important, protecting consumers. As the CCMC describes its founding: "A paramount concern was the varied training and background of people who called themselves case managers; incompetent practice could damage the emerging profession and endanger the wellbeing of patients. The idea was put forward that case management professionals themselves, rather than a regulatory authority, should oversee the credentialing process. As a result ... the task force set to work to research and develop what would become the first CCM examination" (CCMC, 2017, p. 1).


Coming from a nursing background, I was new to case management at the time. But my employer had been active in helping establish the credential, and so I became part of the first pilot test. Professional experience and education provided the eligibility criteria for those who participated in the pilot test. The goal of the certification examination was to set a threshold for the level of competency needed to practice case management. In all, about 10,000 people took the CCM certification examination in two test cycles in 1993.


CCMC is looking for members of the inaugural class to share their stories about what certification has meant to them. If you were among those certified as a CCM in 1993, please contact Vivian Campagna at mailto:[email protected]


Becoming certified brought me into a community of like-minded professionals committed to a high level of professionalism. For me, personally, certification has always attested to the pride I have in being a case manager. This is not just 8 hours out of my day, but a vocation, to work with patients (i.e., the "clients" who receive case management services) and their families/support systems, as they navigate the complexities of health care to pursue outcomes that are meaningful to them. Certification, as I see it, speaks more to who we are as board-certified case managers than what we do.


Those of us who have practiced case management for many years have witnessed the growth in certification, which was first required by insurance companies and in acute care, and then across multiple practice settings. Employers began to seek out case managers who were certified; in time, it became a requirement for employment. The most recent role and function study conducted by CCMC found that more than 40% of employers require certification as a condition of employment (Tahan, Watson, & Sminkey, 2015). With more emphasis being placed on patient-centered care, care coordination, care/case management, and care transition, the increasing percentage of employers requiring certification is not surprising. The ability of case managers to fulfill such demands as measuring and evaluating outcomes underscores the importance of credentials, including certification (Tahan et al., 2015).


Becoming certified, in my experience, is also a significant personal achievement. With each 5-year period of certification renewal, I have proudly recommitted to being a CCM.


From the beginning, I recognized that being a member of the inaugural class made it even more important that I continue to educate myself and increase my competency as a case manager. (The CCM has specific continuing education requirements for recertification.) The practice continues to evolve and expand, which CCMC captures and disseminates through its role and function studies conducted every 5 years and with other ongoing research.


Competency is measured in the day-to-day activities (known as essential activities), as case managers engage in and/or provide care for patients/clients, as well as in the knowledge and skills they must possess (Tahan et al., 2015). Certification not only powerfully demonstrates competency, it also assures our professionalism among the other health care practitioners with whom we work, often on interdisciplinary teams.


As case management practice expands, our professional diversity has increased. Certificants are not only nurses and social workers who comprise the majority of CCMs, but also rehabilitation counselors, mental health professionals, pharmacists, and others. The CCM offers the opportunity to demonstrate excellence through certification for those who practice case management in their daily activities.


As I have found over the years, certification of any type provides instant credibility among practitioners. We recognize in each other adherence to high professional standards that set us apart in our fields, whether social work, rehabilitation counseling, disability management, or other fields and disciplines. The "letters" that indicate certification and other credentials forge a special bond.


For me, the three letters, "CCM," changed the course of my career. In my current position as the first Chief Industry Relations Officer, working with colleagues within CCMC and across the practice, I am excited to engage in discussions about the future of case management, as we continue to pursue the "triple aim" of improving the experience of care, achieving better health of individuals and populations, and reducing the per capita cost of care (Berwick, Nolan, & Whittington, 2008). In addition, we recognize a fourth aim: promoting a healthy, engaged, and productive workforce (Sikka, Morath, & Leape, 2015). As the practice of case management grows and changes, gathering more allied disciplines under its broad umbrella of advocacy, certification will continue to play a central role. Now, as at the beginning, it is about setting standards of practice and helping protect the well-being of the individuals for whom we advocate.


As a member of the inaugural class of CCMs, it has been my pleasure to have been part of this journey. Now, in my current position, I am honored to engage in dialogue with varied partners and thought leaders. A professional lifetime of being a CCM has made my journey, my experience, and my contribution incredibly rewarding.




Berwick D., Nolan T., Whittington J., (2008). The triple aim: Care, health, and cost. Health Affairs, 27(3), 759-769. [Context Link]


Commission for Case Manager Certification. (2017). About us. Retrieved from: [Context Link]


Sikka R., Morath J., Leape L. (2015). The quadruple aim: Care, health, cost and meaning in work. BJM Quality & Safety, 24(10), 1-3. doi:10.1136/bmjqs-2015-004160 [Context Link]


Tahan H., Watson A., Sminkey P. (2015). What case managers should know about their roles and functions: A National Study from the Commission for Case Manager Certification-Part I. Professional Case Management, 20(6), 271-296. [Context Link]