One Trip Around The Sun—and What A Trip It’s Been
By MaryBeth Kurland, CAE, CEO of CCMC
One year. One more trip around the sun.
Back in March 2020, the inescapable and deadly nature of COVID-19 was only beginning to sink in. Just one year later, tens of millions of Americans have been fully vaccinated against this killer of more than half a million people in the United States alone.
Still in the midst of the pandemic, we have learned so much about our capability to flex and adapt in these past 12 months. You’ve seen this up close: so many of the everyday activities of CDMS and CCM certificants—client consultations, caregiver meetings, team huddles—are now “virtual.”
According to a CCMC survey fielded in August 2020, nearly 60% of case managers and over 65% of disability management specialists that responded had shifted their work location. For more than a quarter of case manager respondents and 15% of disability management specialists, the job itself had changed in terms of duties and responsibilities.
Significant life changes increase personal stress and can negatively impact both mental and physical health. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a significant life change for all of us. Not surprisingly, a June 2020 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 40% of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health or substance abuse. Just a few months before, in April, about 21% of responding case managers reported increased mental health issues, and the same percentage reported physical health issues—at the height of isolation, layoffs and stay-at-home orders.
But resilience and recovery tell a new story today. In a survey of CCMs fielded in the Spring of 2021, 16% of responding case managers reported mental health issues impacting them personally, and 13% reported ongoing clinical health issues. In addition, fewer responded that they have seen reduced income, as providers found new ways to bring case managers back to support clients. That speaks volumes about the work case managers do. Although new protocols have significantly changed how case managers work, what they bring to the team is critical, ongoing and valued by employers.
The pandemic challenged the Commission to find new ways of carrying out our mission as well. As CCM and CDMS credential holders did more work from home, we ramped up our on-demand educational offerings, providing no-cost online CE opportunities and even taking our Certification 360 Workshop virtual. In answer to the increased stress among CCM and CDMS certificants, we focused on self-care and the mind-body-health connection in our “Push Pause” video series. Many of you have told us how much these encouraging, refreshing moments have meant to you in these hectic months. As we all know, self-care was important long before the pandemic started and will be critical long after it is over. Giving yourself grace, taking a breath and focusing on your own health and well-being makes you a better practitioner, prepared to meet the needs of your clients.
Furthermore, our commitment to offering digital tools to prepare case managers for certification has not abated; the CCM Glossary App has helped thousands prepare for the CCM exam using their smartphones. In addition, the Commission has also released the new CCM Quiz App to strengthen and equip many more.
Our certificants are resilient and the ongoing demand for more of you to become board-certified also inspired us to make a major operational change in record time. In only a handful of months, we were able to activate remote proctoring as a new modality for CCM and CDMS exam candidates to safely test in their own homes. Remote proctoring improves access for candidates to take exams despite the pandemic, without sacrificing the integrity and security of the exam. As competing demands of work and home escalate, the Commission values your time and commitment and remains focused on continuing to improve access to the tools you need to advance in your career.
It’s hard to imagine right now, but by the time the Earth makes one more turn around the sun, the world will look very different—again. I don’t anticipate that it will ever be like it was before the pandemic. However, what we’ve learned about what can be accomplished using technology, and how far we can push to adapt, individually and as an organization to meet your needs, has inspired us to strive to continually look for ways to improve and develop our service and offerings, making them better and more convenient. The Commission remains committed to advocating for excellence and the professional advancement of case managers and disability management specialists through certification and education, all while upholding the value of the credentials with employers and the public. It is both our responsibility, as the leader in case manager and disability management specialist certification, and our honor to support the important work our certificants do every day advocating for your clients and their families.
By MaryBeth Kurland