What is a case manager (CM)? A lot people don't really know. We wear a lot of hats, and much of what we do is behind the scenes. In fact, it may not ever be known by our patients and their families. Here are the top 10 things you don't know about your CM:
1. Team Parent: We are equivalent to the team parent. We’re always reminding the team what needs to be done, coaching from behind the scenes, keeping everyone on task and coordinating all the players. And yes, sometimes that means we nag and beg others to get you what you need when you need it.
2. Advocate: We write letters, sometimes, all day long. We write them to your employer, your school, Immigration Services, air lines, cruise lines, etc. You name it, I bet we have written a letter for it.
3. Fighter: Your CM knows how to put up a fight, think outside the box and be creative. We do this daily, many times with your insurance company. We spend hours on the phone to advocate for what you need, and we don't back down easily.
4. Messenger: CMs are often the bearer of bad news. A common comment from our colleagues is, "I would never want your job." But we also get to deliver a lot of good news. We live for those moments!
5. Comedian: Chances are your CM has a crazy sense of humor. Our jobs are not glamorous, and we see some terribly sad things every day. We need humor to make it through the day and keep us motivated. And we love making our patients and their families smile, too!
6. Radar: We have a sixth sense for knowing where our doctor is at all times, and we will drop everything to get him or her to sign, do and answer what we need as soon as we know they are nearby. They often joke that we have tracking devices on them. They might just be right.
7. Calm through the storm: CMs work best under pressure, and we have gotten used to things falling apart at the last second. CMs are masters of being calm under pressure and know how to interact with all different personality types.
8. Adapter: They don't teach this in school. Most of what we do is learned on the job and is honed through years of experience. We know how to leverage resources to get our patients what they need. We also have mastered the art of multi-tasking.
9. Cheerleader: Watching you get better is the best part of our job. Be it getting off the vent, feeding yourself, returning to work, driving or a million other milestones, we live for those moments. Even more, after you discharge, we love when we get updates with your graduation photos, wedding albums or even see you pass by running or wheeling in the AJC Peachtree Road Race.
10. Lucky: Shepherd Center is the most amazing place to be a CM! Shepherd CMs get to have their hands in a bit of everything. From utilization management, clinical care, discharge planning, leveraging resources to informal counseling and advocacy, we get to be part of it all. We have access to great doctors, nurses, therapists and other staff members whom we learn from every day. Being a part of this amazing interdisciplinary team makes us much more efficient at what we do to assist you!
Erma Freeman, MSW, LCSW, CCM
Bridget Metzger, CCM, CRC, LPC
Brandi Milford, MS, CRC
Crystal Morgan, MSW
Julie White, CCM, LMSW, CLCP
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Ga., is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury or brain injury. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation and is a 152-bed facility. Last year Shepherd Center had 965 admissions to its inpatient programs and 571 to its day patient programs. In addition, Shepherd Center sees more than 6,600 people annually on an outpatient basis. For more information, visit Shepherd Center online at www.shepherd.org