As we work with nurse case managers to help them achieve their career goals, we get many questions about the Certified Case Manager (CCM) credential. Here is some key information that we have shared with case managers that are considering applying for the CCM credential.
What is CCM?
The CCM is the first nationally accredited case manager credential. This credential is awarded by The Commission for Case Manager Certification (CCMC). The credential acknowledges case managers who have the “expertise, knowledge, and professional experience to provide the right services to patients with serious or complex medical conditions, and/or catastrophic injuries and illnesses,” according to the CCMC.
Why should case management nurses have the CCM credential?
It is becoming increasingly difficult for nurses with an associates degree, or nursing diploma, to find jobs in case management. Often, case management nurses will pursue a CCM as an alternative to enrolling in a Bachelor’s of Nursing (BSN) program.
While a Certified Case Manager (CCM) credential does not replace a BSN or MSN, it will give you a competitive advantage over your peers that have a similar educational background.
A Certified Case Manager credential signifies to healthcare employers that you have proven experience in the areas of designing and monitoring a care plan, coordinating care, evaluating patient progress and tracking outcomes in satisfaction and cost savings.
We often see that a Certified Case Manager credential has the potential to boost a nurse case manager’s salary by up to $1,500 with some healthcare employers. Other employers offer bonuses for the completion of a CCM as well as providing nurses with support in preparing for the CCM exam.
What is covered on the Exam?
The Commission for Case Manager Certification has prepared a detailed “Case Management Certification Guide” that will explain the credentials needed to pursue a CCM certification. The guide also outlines the types of questions covered in the CCM practice-based exam.
Beware of CCM Exam Preparatory Courses!
We have spoken with many nurse case managers that have registered for CCM Prep courses; spending hundreds and in some cases thousands of dollars for a prep class billed as being an official CCM preparatory course. In fact, there are no preparatory courses officially recognized by the Commission for Certified Case Managers (CCM).
Given that none of these programs are endorsed by the CCMC, there is no guarantee that the class you register for will adequately prepare you for the CCM Exam. However, it is advisable to enroll in courses for subject matters covered on the CCM Exam for which you have limited or no knowledge.
Since the exam is practice based, the CCMC suggests it is “important to review information that is not common or special to your own practice settings.” This will help prepare you for the areas you are less familiar with. When you sign up for a course be sure to find out exactly which areas will be covered (e.g. discharge planning, Medicare / Medicaid, workers compensation, utilization review, case monitoring, etc. ) If you find that the course is only covering the areas that you are extremely familiar with it’s probably a waste of your money.
Connect with other Certified Case Managers
One of the best options for preparing for the exam is to talk to other case managers that are in fields other that your own. Many nurses form study groups with their peers to share expertise and cover unfamiliar territory in case management. You can also ask your friends and colleagues that have sat for the exam for tips and advice.
There are also several nursing forums on the Internet where you can pose your CCM prep questions to a larger group of your peers. We have started a free group on LinkedIn called, Nursing Beyond the Bedside, for non bedside nursing professionals including certified case managers. Groups like this expose you to a broader network of case management nurses and a place to discuss CCM issues and exam preparation.
When is the next CCM Exam?
The Certified Case Manager Exam is offered several times throughout the year. Take a look at the certified case manager exam schedule. The application deadlines are often several months prior to the actual exam so you should plan ahead.
It is also important to give yourself plenty of time to complete the application as it is very lengthy. Since most nurses applying for the CCM Exam are busy with full-time jobs, it may take several weeks to find the time to carefully prepare the application.
Do I need to maintain my CCM?
Yes, case managers do need to maintain their Certified Case Manager designation. The original certification is valid for five years. Case mangers are also required to complete eighty continuing education credits over the course of the five year certification period. More detailed information is included in the CCM Renewal Guide from the Commission for Case Manager Certification (CCMC).
If you would like more information about the CCM and how it will impact your nursing career, feel free to:
Call us at (800) 361-0031
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or
Join the Nursing Beyond the Bedside professional group on LinkedIn.