By Dr. Colleen Morley, DNP, RN, CCM, CMAC, CMCN, ACM-RN, FCM

A little personal insight, reflecting on why this conference holds an incredible special place in my heart and indeed why CMSA is family to me.

June 4, 2013…a day I keep trying to forget.  The day my spouse decided to end our marriage via text message. A very bad day rolled into a very bad week. And I was trying to plan my daughter’s upcoming wedding at the time as well. (An interesting balancing act).

The conference was two weeks away and I decided that I was not going, didn’t feel up to socializing, was not engaged in the work anymore (did I mention I was unemployed at the time too?) and was all wrapped up in my personal pity party.

Enter the team at CMSA Chicago, who said, “NOPE, you’re going. It will do you good. You need this.” A great team of butt kickers who literally pulled me from said pity party and dragged me along. The conference was being held in New Orleans, LA (a favorite place of mine) and my CMSA buddy, Mary Jo Cronin and I had decided to road trip it down there from Chicago.  An interesting experience, full of its own side adventures (better told over drinks with MJ in attendance).

The conference was incredible.  I still look back on the photos of that week and see, not a broken person; but someone on the road to healing.  That’s what this conference and this group did.  They reached out to me, gave me the support to get back on my feet both professionally and personally. (And ironic that I became President on 6/4/2022…hmmmmm?)

Fast forward to 2021: I went to another professional conference and met a case manager at lunch. Sitting there, eating and she came up to me to ask for some advice (she had attended my presentation earlier). She told me that she was at a crossroads; not sure if she wanted to continue down this path and that my presentation had inspired her, and she had to talk with me further. We chatted for quite some time. At the end of that conversation, she stated she felt much better about going forward in case management and we connected via Facebook.  We are still connected, chatting frequently and are working together on preparing her for leadership. What would have happened if she had not attended that conference? Would our profession have lost a very talented, compassionate case manager?

So, to those who ask why I am so passionate about the CMSA National Conference, I say…Yes, I come to conference for education; I come to conference for the exhibit hall so I can serve my patients with the latest and greatest options available; I come to conference to get important CE hours for my certification maintenance. But I really to come to conference for the community; to know that I am not alone in this crazy profession or this world. And to give something back to our community.  You never know when you may be the one that changes someone’s life.

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Bio: Dr. Colleen Morley, DNP, RN, CCM, CMAC, CMCN, ACM-RN, FCM, is the Associate Chief Clinical Operations Officer, Care Continuum for University of Illinois Health System, and the current President of the Case Management Society of America National Board of Directors.  She has held positions in acute care as Director of Case Management at several acute care facilities and managed care entities in Illinois, overseeing Utilization Review, Case Management and Social Services for over 14 years; piloting quality improvement initiatives focused on readmission reduction, care coordination through better communication and population health management. Her current passion is around improving health literacy. She is the recipient of the CMSA Foundation Practice Improvement Award (2020) and ANA Illinois Practice Improvement Award (2020) for her work in this area. Dr. Morley also received the AAMCN Managed Care Nurse Leader of the Year in 2010 and the CMSA Fellow of Case Management designation in 2022. Her 1st book, “A Practical Guide to Acute Care Case Management”, published by Blue Bayou Press was released in February 2022. Dr. Morley has over 20 years of nursing experience. Her clinical specialties include Med/Surg, Oncology and Pediatric Nursing. She received her ADN at South Suburban College in South Holland, Il; BSN at Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, FL, MSN from Norwich University in Northfield, VT and her DNP at Chamberlain College of Nursing.