Are you eligible to take the CCM exam? Know before you apply

Are you eligible for the CCM?CCM Exam Eligibility

Knowledge of case management terminology and current practice are among the essential elements you’ll need to pass the Certified Case Manager® (CCM®) exam. But earning the CCM is about more than book knowledge—after all, it’s an exam based on what case managers do in daily practice.

Becoming a board-certified case manager requires you to have both the core education (which may be represented by licensure) and experience to practice case management before you even apply to take the test.

Why require education and experience to apply? Because the CCM is a professional certification, validating you have what it takes to grasp the big picture as well as the boots-on-the-ground know-how needed to practice case management.

The Commission expanded CCM exam eligibility requirements in March 2013. With a growing demand for case managers, we recognized the need to increase the ranks. We also acknowledged that case managers with education from across the allied health spectrum can demonstrate they have what it takes to become board certified.

Educational Requirements

The Commission’s Certification Guide goes into detail about eligibility, but we’ll cover the basics here. Let’s tackle the education requirement first. Applicants must have one (not both, just one) of the following two options to apply:

  • License/certification option: A current, active and unrestricted licensure or certification in a health and human services discipline that allows you to conduct a client assessment independently. Some examples of licenses and certifications that meet this eligibility requirement are: RN, LCSW, LMSW, LPC, CRC and CDMS.
    • The LPN and LVN licenses do not meet the independent assessment criteria, so those licenses don’t qualify candidates to apply for the CCM.
    • If you aren’t sure that your license or certification allows you to practice independently, contact your state governing board to find out.
    • If your license doesn’t qualify you to take the CCM, think about using your degree to apply instead.
    • Just remember, your license needs to be active and current at the time you would take the exam.
  • Higher education option: A bachelor’s or graduate degree in social work, nursing, or another health or human services field that promotes the physical, psychosocial, and/or vocational well-being of those being served.
    • Your degree must be from an accredited institution.
    • The degree, as part of the curriculum, must include supervised field experience in case management, health, or behavioral health. A great example of this is a bachelor’s degree in social work.
    • Do you have a bachelor’s degree, but you’re unsure whether it’s among the many we accept for eligibility? Just call us at 856-380-6836 to find out.

If you have a qualified license AND a qualified degree, choose the option that will support your renewal in the future.

Experience Requirement

Second, comes the experience requirement. For all the options below, the Commission holds that only experience within the past five years should be considered, because health care changes so rapidly (and so does case management practice). Internships, preceptorships, practicum and volunteer experience are not accepted as employment experience.

Experience must be complete at the time you apply (not when you sit for the exam). The criteria are specific about the experience itself to ensure you’re doing comprehensive case management.

For all three options, your experience must include work in at least four of the five core components of case management. These align with the Knowledge Domains on the CCM exam:

  1. Care Delivery and Reimbursement Methods
  2. Psychosocial Concepts and Support Systems
  3. Quality and Outcomes Evaluation and Measurements
  4. Rehabilitation Concepts and Strategies
  5. Ethical, Legal, and Practice Standards.

Within each component, case managers must perform all eight essential activities with direct client contact (assess, plan, implement, coordinate, monitor, evaluate, outcomes, general tasks). Your experience must include providing services across the care continuum and interacting with others in the care system.

The Commission will ask you to provide the name and contact information for a supervisor in order to confirm your work experience. A current email—personal or professional—is required. This is simply the person that you report to (or have reported to) as a case manager, in contrast to the “supervision” required for some licenses, such as social work or licensed professional counselor.

How much qualified experience do you need? The Commission offers three ways for you to meet the requirement:

  • 12 months of acceptable full-time case management employment, supervised by a board-certified case manager (CCM). Your Supervisor must be certified for at least one year at the time of your application.
  • 24 months of acceptable full-time case management employment experience (no supervision by a CCM required under this option).
  • 12 months of acceptable full-time case management employment experience as a supervisor of individuals who provide case management services. This must also fall in the last five years.

What if you work a part-time schedule? The Commission has a formula for that: We’ll pro-rate your experience based on a 37-hour work week (this is automatically calculated when you apply). Check the Certification Guide for details.

If it seems that eligibility criteria are a bit complicated, it’s because we try to ensure there are as many avenues open to qualified case managers as possible to apply for certification, while still ensuring the certification represents case manager excellence. Our goal is to certify and professionally support a qualified, ready workforce. And remember, we want to help, so don’t hesitate to call us at 856-380-6836.

Debby Formica COO, Commission for Case Manager CertificationDebby Formica has been with the Commission since 2010. She served previously as director of administration and operations, assistant vice president, and director of business development. In her new role as COO, Formica is responsible for oversight of certification services, management of volunteers, and implementation of the strategic direction provided by the Board of Commissioners. Formica has extensive experience in financial analysis, project management, and certification services. She began her career by spending eight years in healthcare financial consulting with CBIZ KA Consulting Services before moving to Johnson & Johnson as a manager in contract management and analysis. She holds a bachelor of science in accounting from Lehigh University and is a member of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, the American Society of Association Executives and the Mid-Atlantic Society of Association Executives. Formica is also president and founder of Helpful Gifts from the Heart, a non-profit that benefits families dealing with pediatric cancer.

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CCM Exam & Question Development

CCM Exam & Question DevelopmentHave you ever wondered how the CCM certification exam is created? Where do those questions come from and who writes them? We were curious too! CCMC was very gracious and gave us a behind-the-scenes look at how the CCM Exam & Question Development occurs to share with you. We are sure you will find the following article by Debby Formica very interesting and informative!

Behind the Scenes with CCM Exam Development

By Debby Formica COO, Commission for Case Manager Certification

It seems so simple, right? A multiple-choice exam, just 180 questions long. How hard could it be to create and manage?

Probably harder than you think.

Many case managers are curious about test questions we use for the exam. If you’ve ever wondered where they come from, keep reading for your virtual behind-the-scenes look at test development.

Recently, we welcomed about a dozen subject matter experts into a room with tables heaped high with reference books and materials for a question development session (in test development language, it’s called an item development workshop). Volunteers from across all practice settings spent the next two days with test development experts, carefully weighing the exam criteria, crafting questions and reviewing question drafts for accuracy, clarity, and validity. They compared wording and answer possibilities against established case management definitions and resources. (CCM exam pro tip: The references used during item development workshops are the same as those on the CCM Suggested References list. They make great study materials.)

Because the Commission field-tests 30 questions on the exam to gauge performance (only 150 previously validated questions are considered in the candidate’s score), the data from the field tests are also examined and assessed during follow up item-review sessions. In fact, every question that eventually becomes a scored exam question has survived a multi-step process: writing, review, pre-testing and additional review.

Items are regularly updated and retired so the exam remains current and representative of the case management profession. CCMC maintains a pool of items representing a comprehensive selection of statistically validated test questions. Case management subject matter experts are charged with continually adding to and upgrading this “test question (item) pool.”

The CCM exam is practice-based, meaning all questions are grounded in the knowledge that an experienced case manager should know and understand. Test experts—psychometricians—apply a statistical procedure (called equating) to adjust for any differences in the level of difficulty among examinations. We go to these lengths to ensure that each exam candidate demonstrates the same level of ability in order to pass the examination.

A participant once told me that volunteering for item development is a remarkable professional stretch—a truly eye-opening and complete immersion into case management knowledge. I know that when I finish an item development workshop, my brain is tired! CCM exam development is a rigorous, on-going, and fascinating process. The dedication of the subject matter experts who volunteer their time and knowledge is phenomenal. They’re an important part of what makes the CCM the gold standard credential for the case management profession.

Here’s another question we often hear: What do we mean by an “evidence-based” exam?

Every CCM exam—for a quarter century now—has been based on research delving into the work case managers do every day. The Commission fields the Case Manager Role and Function Study—a job task analysis—every five years. That independent research forms the basis for refinements to the exam blueprint, or the knowledge domains that are tested on the exam.

When you think about it, the Role and Function Study results reflect the changes occurring in real-world case management practice—and that evolution is reflected in the exam blueprint and questions.

As part of this case manager community, you’ve probably heard that it takes time and determination to prepare for the Certified Case Manager® (CCM®) exam—and that’s 100 percent by design. Employers count on the Commission to validate the competency of case managers—through eligibility criteria and an evidence-based exam. That rigor is what makes the CCM so valuable in today’s health care marketplace for more than 45,000 CCMs.

The exam research, review and refresh process is critically important to the Commission. It’s part of our charge to uphold the CCM as the industry standard for excellence in case management; it’s the only cross-setting, cross-discipline case manager credential for health care and related fields that are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. As an aside, it just seems right that we at the Commission know what it feels like to go through the certification process, too—we do it regularly to maintain our NCCA status.

CCMs expect the Commission to proactively track trends and current case management practice to ensure the credential sustains its value. That’s what makes all the studying and preparation worth the effort. The CCM is not just a credential for today. It’s a credential that will add value to your professional development across the span of your career.

Debby Formica has been with the Commission since 2010. She served previously as director of administration and operations, assistant vice president, and director of business development. In her new role as COO, Formica is responsible for oversight of certification services, management of volunteers, and implementation of the strategic direction provided by the Board of Commissioners. Formica has extensive experience in financial analysis, project management, and certification services. She began her career by spending eight years in healthcare financial consulting with CBIZ KA Consulting Services before moving to Johnson & Johnson as a manager in contract management and analysis. She holds a bachelor of science in accounting from Lehigh University and is a member of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, the American Society of Association Executives and the Mid-Atlantic Society of Association Executives. Formica is also president and founder of Helpful Gifts from the Heart, a non-profit that benefits families dealing with pediatric cancer.

 

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