Which CM Certification Should I GetWe have been getting a lot of inquiries recently regarding the different types of Case Management Certifications available. Many of you want to know which is best for you. This is a very individual choice based on where you work, your professional background, and where you see yourself working in the future. This article gives a comparison of 3 of the more popular certification available for case managers to help you decide which one may be best for you.

CCM (Certified Case Manager)

This certification exam is administered by the Commission for Case Manager Certification and is considered the gold standard of case management certifications. It is also the most popular with over 45,000 board-certified case managers to date. This certification is inclusive of all case managers no matter their work setting or credentials as long as they have a license that allows them to conduct an independent assessment of the client. This makes it very popular with case managers today who are interested in career advancement and know the importance of making themselves more marketable.

Eligibility

Applicants must meet the qualifications in three areas; licensure or education, employment, and character, to be eligible to sit for this exam. Qualifications include:

Licensure or Education Requirements

Applicants must have:

(1) a current, active and unrestricted licensure or certification in a health or human services discipline such as RN, LCSW, CRC, Rx, PT, OT, ST, RT, and CDMS.

OR 

(2) a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in nursing, social work or other health and human services discipline and have completed supervised field experience in case management, health, or behavioral health.

Employment Requirements

Applicants must meet one of the employment requirements below:

  • 12 months of full-time case management, supervised by a CCM
  • 12 months of full-time case management employment experience as a supervisor of individuals who provides case management services
  • 24 months of full-time case management

Character Requirement

Be of good moral character, consistent with the CCMC Code of Professional Conduct.

Exam Structure

According to CCMC, “The CCM exam is practice-based, meaning all questions are based on the knowledge that an experienced case manager should know and understand.”

The examination content focuses on the following five domains:

  • Care Delivery & Reimbursement Methods
  • Psychosocial Concepts & Support Systems
  • Quality & Outcomes Evaluation and Measurement
  • Rehabilitations Concepts & Strategies
  • Ethical, Legal & Practice Standards

You will have 3 hours to complete the exam which consists of 180 multiple-choice questions. Only 150 of these are actual scored questions, the other 30 are pretest questions which are not scored. Those who pass this exam are entitled to use the credential CCM (Certified Case Manager). 

Exam Schedule

The exam is administered 3 times each year, April, August, and December. The test can be scheduled any day during the testing month at a Prometric Testing Center. Applications to test must be submitted during the application window for that test month.

 

Exam Period April August December
Application window open November 1 March 1 July 1
Application window close January 31 May 31 September 30
Approve/Denial Notified By February 28 By June 30 By October 31
Exam Administered April 1-30 August 1-31 December 1-31

 

The application fee is $200 (non-refundable) plus the exam fee of $185 (refundable if ineligible to sit for the exam), for a total of $385. 

The Skinny

Who: Medical Professionals who are permitted to conduct an independent client assessment

Work Setting: All

Credential: CCM

Fee: $385

Work Experience: Minimum of 1 year

Renewal: 5 years

Popularity: 45,000+

This is for you if: (1) You are a medical professional working as a case manager. (2) You are looking for career advancement. (3) You want the Gold Standard Certification. (4) You work or plan to work in a setting other than acute care. 

For further clarification on eligibility please contact: CCMCertification.org

ACM (Accredited Case Manager) 

This certification is created and administered by the America Case Manager Association (ACMA). It is only offered only to RN’s and Social Workers. The ACM is for health delivery system and transitions of care (ToC) case managers working in the hospital setting. 

Eligibility

The ACM Certification examination is open to all registered nurses with a valid and current nursing license and/or social workers with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in social work or valid social work license. All applicants must have 1 year (2,080 hours) of full time, supervised paid work experience as a case manager or in a role that falls within the scope of Services and Standards of Practice of a case manager, by a health delivery system. Candidates with less than two years of experience must provide supervisor contact information and an attestation that they have at least one year of case management experience. It is important to note that paid or unpaid internship does not count toward full-time work experience. The exam application fee is $325. Candidates deemed ineligible to sit for the exam will receive a refund, less a $75 processing fee.

Exam Structure

The examination content focuses on hospital case management and transitions of care (ToC) in the following four domains: 

  • screening and assessment, 
  • planning, 
  • care coordination, intervention, and transition management,
  • evaluation. 

There are two components to this exam. The first part consists of questions that test core case management knowledge, skills, and abilities. The second part of the exam involves discipline-specific clinical simulations. Candidates must pass both the core and discipline-specific portions to be entitled to use the ACM credential. 

Exam Schedule

Quarterly Exam Scheduling. Candidates apply and test within the regularly scheduled deadlines and timeframes listed below.

 

Application Deadline Exam Period
November 15 January, February, March
February 15 April, May, June
May 15 July, August, September
August 15 October, November, December

 

The Skinny

Who: RN’s and SW only

Work Setting: Hospital

Credential: ACM (Accredited Case Manager) ACM-RN or ACM-SW

Fee: $325

Work Experience: Minimum of 1 year

Renewal: 4 Years

Popularity: 6,400+

This is for you if: (1) You are an RN or SW case manager working in a hospital setting and plan to continue working there. (2) You are looking for career advancement where you currently work.

Learn More: acmaweb.org

ANCC

This certification is administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). It is developed for nurses, by nurses and is focused specifically on nursing case management. 

Eligibility

Applicants must meet the qualifications in two areas, licensure and employment. 

Qualifications include:

Licensure Requirements

Applicants must hold a current, active RN license within a state or territory of the United States or the professional, legally recognized equivalent in another country to be eligible to sit for the exam. International applicants must comply with additional requirements. 

Employment Requirements

Applicants must have practiced the equivalent of 2 years full-time as a registered nurse and have a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical practice in nursing case management within the last 3 years. In addition, applicants must have completed 30 hours of continuing education in nursing case management within the last 3 years.

The application fee is $395. If you are a member of the American Nurses Association (ANA), the application fee is $270. If you paid $395 to apply for an exam and then chose to withdraw or were deemed ineligible for the exam, ANCC would retain $140 and provide a $255 refund.

Exam Structure

(*Note this information applies to the new updated test which begins December 16, 2019)

The ANCC is a competency-based exam that assesses the entry-level clinical knowledge and skills of registered nurses working in case management. The examination content focuses on the following four domains: 

  • Professional Foundation
  • Care Coordination
  • Quality Management
  • Health Promotion

You will have 3 hours to complete the exam which consists of 150 questions. Only 125 of these are actual scored questions, the other 25 are pretest questions that are not scored. After successfully passing the exam the RN-BC (Registered Nurse-Board Certified) is awarded. 

Exam Schedule

After you mail your application, allow 4 – 6 weeks for an eligibility decision. If eligible, you’ll get an authorization to test number and a 90-day window in which to schedule and take your exam at a Prometric Test Center.

The Skinny

Who: RN

Work Setting: All

Credential: RN-BC

Fee:  $395, American Nurses Association (ANA) Member $270

Work Experience: 

  • 2 years full-time as a registered nurse, and
  • 2,000+ hours of clinical practice in nursing case management within the last 3 years, and
  • 30 hours of continuing education in nursing case management within the last 3 years.

Renewal: 5 Years

Popularity: 2,000+/-

This is for you if: (1) you are an RN. (2) You work or plan to work in a setting other than acute care. (3) You are looking for career advancement.

Learn More: NursingWorld.org

My Opinion

I wanted to share how and why I chose the CCM Certification from different options.

At first, I was leaning toward the ANCC since I was a nurse and it was for nurses only. When it was time for me to apply, I asked the director of my department her opinion. Her answer was “the CCM is the gold standard”…

So, I began looking into CCM. I also looked at job postings for Case Manager positions I may want in the future and all the positions required CCM certification. Based on this, I made the choice to seek my CCM certification and have been extremely happy with my decision. My CCM certification has opened many doors for me.

While the CCM was the right choice for me, it will not be the right decision for everybody. You will need to take into consideration your current situation and where you see yourself in the future.

No matter which one you choose, good luck and know that you can do it! Being a Certified Case Manager is a great profession!

Deanna Headshot 2Deanna Cooper Gillingham, RN, CCM is a leader in case management with over a quarter-century experience in healthcare as a Registered Nurse and Case Manager. She is CEO and co-founder of the Case Management Institute, and leader and co-founder of the Case Managers Community, a group of over 10,000 committed case managers. From there she hosts the popular Case Managers Community Saturday morning FB Lives.

In addition to her own books, CCM Certification Made Easy: Your Guide to Passing the Certified Case Managers Exam and Foundations of Case Management (Available 2020), she has contributed to other works including Second Acts, Stepping Up to Certification, and Case Management Salary and Trends Survey.

 

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