As the Case Management Society of America (CMSA) President, I have the pleasure of traveling throughout the United States, meeting professional case managers from all settings. It has been an invigorating experience and an important opportunity to have an engaging conversation about creating a vision of where we are going and how our professional case manager role impacts the delivery of care across the continuum. Our discussions have also highlighted the importance of advocating and celebrating our professional accomplishments.
I still encounter questions about how case management professionals can become more visible within their organization and in the health care delivery system. Many case management professionals feel that their own organizational leaders still lack awareness of the vital role we play in the delivery of exceptional care. The good news is that this knowledge and communication gap is correctable!
In 2016, Mary Beth Newman, Past President of CMSA, authored a CMSA Today article, titled “Keeping the ‘Professional’ in Professional Case Management.” In her article, she described three focus areas important in professional case management advocacy: (1) maximize role clarity on the collaborative care team; (2) recognize the significance of professional standards of practice; and (3) advocate for professional solidarity. Her discussion continues to remain relevant today.
Oftentimes, when I hear concerns about the lack of organizational awareness, I reflect on the importance of having an “elevator speech.” This is a short 30-seconds presentation that uses short powerful sentences to (1) introduce yourself, (2) explain what the professional case management role offers, and (3) explain how professional case managers benefit the organization. After telling your elevator speech, be prepared to hand the recipient your business card as a way of formalizing the introduction and begin development of a business relationship.
Remember to stay away from jargon and acronyms that the listener may not understand. Memorize and practice your elevator speech. Develop alternative elevator speeches for different audiences. For example, have an organizational leadership or community stakeholder version, a patient or caregiver version, and a friends and family version. Being prepared will build your confidence, and your elevator speech will become second nature to you.
An example of an elevator speech might be:
Good afternoon, my name is Joan Smith and I am a certified case manager at ABC hospital. I have been a team member at ABC hospital for more than 10 years. I am a member of your care team and will assist you in creating a safe discharge and transition plan when you no longer need care at our hospital. I am here to answer your questions and be a resource to you during your hospital stay. Here is my business card if you need to contact me in the future.
It is important to keep your elevator speech brief and allow opportunity for follow-up questions. Don't forget that your audience will also interpret your nonverbal messages and body language as you are speaking. You can great feedback about unintentional nonverbal messaging by practicing your elevator speech in front of your colleagues, friends, or family.
An elevator speech is a great way to start the conversation about the important role of the professional case manager. It is a unique opportunity to demonstrate professionalism and the value you bring to individuals you care for and your organization. Speak up and assists others in understanding your important role!
Jose Alejandro, PhD, RN, FAAN, is President (2018–2020), Case Management Society of America.