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Blue Shield of California’s PPO Division in Folsom, CA, provides a comprehensive training program for its case managers. But the payer’s training staff finds that calling in outside experts benefits both newly hired case managers and seasoned professionals.
"We used pharmaceutical company scholarships to pay for some of the external resources and the company also set money aside for this purpose," says Sandra M. Blacet, RN, BSN, CCM, continuous quality improvement nurse for Blue Shield of California’s PPO (preferred provider organization) division.
Blue Shield asked Sacramento State University’s School of Nursing to deliver its certificate in case management program on-site. "We talked with Sac State and worked with the education department to develop a program that met our specific needs," says Blacet.
In addition, Blue Shield tapped into the Little Rock, AR-based Case Management Society of America’s speakers bureau to coordinate workshops presented by nationally recognized case management professionals. "I really believe that calling in outside experts is the only way for a training program to grow," says Blacet. "We can go over certain concepts repeatedly in training but sometimes it helps for case managers to hear the information presented in a different way by someone else. Each guest speaker provides a fresh perspective that adds a new piece to the case manager’s body of knowledge."
Blue Shield gathers any literature or other resources brought in by outside speakers into a notebook for case managers to refer to as needed. "This also benefits new nurses coming in who didn’t have the opportunity to hear the guest speakers during their time with us," says Marlene Underwood, RN, BSN, CCM, continuous quality improvement nurse for Blue Shield of California’s PPO division.
In addition to bringing guest speakers into its Dover, NH, training center, Boston-based Liberty Mutual also takes its new case managers on field trips to enhance their training experience. "We’ve asked several clients to allow us to bring in case managers to observe workers performing various work functions," says Judith L. Strate, BSN, CCM, regional director of training for medical case management. "We ask case managers to identify any safety issues they notice to see if it would be beneficial to bring in our loss prevention department to work on an injury prevention program."
If the employer has an occupational health nurse, Liberty Mutual asks the nurse to meet with case managers before and after the tour to explain what they’ve seen and field any questions. "The occupational health nurse gains an understanding of our medical case managers’ thought process from the questions they ask. And the case managers learn that the occupational health nurse can be an ally in their effort to return injured workers to the workplace," Strate explains.
Of course, trainers also encourage new case managers to join professional organizations and take advantage of local conferences and workshops. "Our local CMSA chapter holds quarterly conferences that we strongly encourage case managers to attend," says Blacet.
(Editor’s note: The CMSA speaker’s bureau is available on-line at www.cmsa.org.)