A Day in the Life: Insights from Two Certified Acting CCMC Commissioners

Posted on 05/02/2024 - 01:19 PM

Katherine Edwards (M.Ed, CCM, CDMS) and Patricia Kelley Morgan (MS, RN, CCM, MSCC), CCMC’s newest Commissioners,  answer questions and share insights drawn from their experiences working in their respective fields, in addition to discussing the value of becoming and serving as CCMC Commissioners.

Please describe your typical day at work.
Katherine Edwards: I'm currently transitioning from employment as a Return-to-Work Manager at a large hospital system to private practice as a career coach. Most of my career has been in workers’ comp disability management/case management—I am dually certified as a CDMS and CCM. A typical day usually involved reviewing medical records and treatment requests, calling injured workers and their providers, and contacting the manager/employer to explore transitional employment opportunities. I would also visit the worksite to perform job analyses if needed to insure a safe return to active employment. Negotiation and forging strong relationships with all parties are key elements of the job.

Patricia Kelley Morgan: I'm responsible for managing a team of case managers who provide medical case management for injured employees. We work with the injured employee and their medical providers to ensure they receive appropriate medical treatment for their work injuries as well as collaborate with their respective employers to coordinate their safe and timely return to work.

What are some of the most significant challenges you have faced on a day-to-day basis in your most recent role?
KE: Resistance to accommodating injured workers is the most significant challenge. I have typically been able to break through that barrier, but attitudinal barriers do exist and that can translate into a difficult transition for the employee.

PKM: One of the biggest challenges is managing expectations. This can mean managing expectations due to processes with injured workers, providers or employers; or it can be more challenging such as working on a safe discharge plan and supportive services for a catastrophically injured employee.

What is the best or most rewarding part of your day?
KE: Helping injured workers negotiate the medical system to achieve the best possible outcome for their condition., In addition, the vocational coaching aspect—particularly with individuals who need to find a different position because of their restrictions has also been very rewarding. There’s nothing better than seeing people bloom when they get positive, helpful feedback so they can move ahead!

PKM: The most rewarding aspect of working as a case manager is having a successful outcome; seeing someone with a significant injury recover to their fullest potential and return to gainful employment.

In what can, at times, be a demanding yet rewarding profession, what methods or practices do you employ to focus on your own well-being and self-care?
KE: As I’ve gotten older, I am much better at leaving the job at the door at the end of the day. I also don’t personalize things. You have to have (somewhat) thick skin in workers’ comp.

PKM: It is important to spend time away from work.  I enjoy time with my family and grandchildren. My husband and I enjoy working together on home improvement projects and spending outdoors. We are planning on some future travel.

Please describe a day on the job during which you felt particularly fulfilled, renewed and proud.
KE: Recently, I met several times with an injured public safety employee who was limited to sedentary work and unable to return to her prior job. She was getting a bit depressed and hopeless, wondering what she would do next. Through our discussions together we identified human resources as a good fit for her, given her educational background, interests, and personality. She was relieved, grateful, and excited and is now pursuing a human resource related credential.

PKM: I was able to work with an injured employee who was very upset with their circumstances and was hesitant to communicate with me. They also did not feel they would be able to return to their job. Over time, I was able to establish a relationship with the injured employee and worked with their medical provider to progress in their post-operative recovery and, ultimately, they did return to work. There were multiple setbacks experienced along the way, but the injured worker did call and thank me for assisting them along the way.

What is the best advice you could give a new case manager or disability management specialist for making their jobs most fulfilling?
KE: Keep organized, stay realistic, and focus on the client!

PKM: The most important information for a new case manager is to understand that it takes time. A good mentor is important to establish to work on developing skills, manage concerns, and feedback for continued growth. A new case manager should be patient with themselves.

What made you decide to volunteer and ultimately dedicate your time as a CCMC Commissioner?
KE: Throughout my career, the CDMS and CCM credentials have helped me in terms of credibility and, also, in keeping current on emerging trends through continuing education. At this time of my life, I wanted to be able to give back to the organization that has helped me so much and I am truly honored to be able to do so.

PKM: After serving for several years as a volunteer and enjoying the experience and relationships, I wanted to be more involved in the work of the Commission and continue my own growth and development in case management.

What has been most rewarding about becoming a Commissioner?
KE: Certainly, meeting like-minded colleagues (who are all so bright and dedicated) is intellectually stimulating. Also, being able to provide input on various aspects of CCMC operations is an honor. I also particularly enjoy working on the Professional Development & Education Committee and serving as a subject matter expert.

PKM: Being a part of a board that is made up of very talented individuals with different backgrounds and experiences who work together to achieve multiple goals and continue to advance the profession of case management and disability management.