By Mary Beth Newman, MSN, RN, BC-CMGT, CCM, FCM  

Many years ago, my first (and most influential) mentor handed me a small gift wrapped in tissue paper and told me “This made me think of you.”  As I unwrapped it, I found myself holding a colorfully whimsical desktop knickknack that said “Do What You Love and Love What You Do”.  Of course, my first reaction was to offer a sincere thank you and share how grateful I was for her thoughtfulness.

It wasn’t too soon afterward that I started to think--what was my mentor trying to tell me?  I truly enjoyed my work and the marvelous people I worked with, and hoped it was apparent to others.  Did my mentor think I needed to focus more on a specific behavior or skill? Was she trying to get me to think about where I wanted to go with my career and what direction I might be most successful in? Or maybe I was just overthinking things (which is admittedly one of my more irksome habits!).

I decided to casually ask my mentor about why that saying reminded her of me, hoping to elicit a piece of sage advice on some aspect of personal or professional development. She looked at me with a quizzical look and said “Because Mary Beth, you are one of the few people I know for whom that is really true!”  For some reason I was flabbergasted—was I truly doing what I love and loving what I was doing—and didn’t even realize it?

That was not only an eye-opening moment for me, but a turning point in my case management career. It made me realize that of course I loved case management! At that point in time, I felt like a fledgling novice, just starting to understand the nuances of professional case management—but I now understood I had so much more ahead to look forward to. I knew the secret was for me to stay focused on promoting best-practice case management and pouring my energy into that all-encompassing goal.

As a result, my work has always revolved around three guiding principles (or what I call “mantras”) that have served as my personal framework to achieve excellence in professional practice:

  1. Grounding our everyday practice in the spirit and intent of our professional standards of practice
  2. Achieving balance between the “art” of case management (the way we communicate and interact with clients) and the “science” (the technology we use to carry out the CM process)  
  3. Being flexible and embracing new ways of “thinking and doing” to succeed in an environment of constant change, disruption, and transformation  

These three mantras always served to focus my thoughts, clarify my priorities, and prioritize my efforts. And it’s amazing that they never go out of style!  They are as true now as they were 20 years ago. In fact, I think they hold even more weight in today’s fast-paced, information-driven, digital-focused world.

I’d be remiss in not mentioning my two close “friends” in my career journey that have helped keep these mantras alive and well for me:  Serendipity and Fortitude.  To me, these are more than just words--they are powerful forces have helped me experience joy and achieve accomplishments in my professional career that I would have never thought possible in my younger years! Serendipity has provided me with insights and ideas that have led me to be in the right place and the right time; Fortitude has enabled me to step out of my comfort zone to experience extraordinary personal and professional growth.

As you reflect on your own career, what was a game-changing moment for you? And how did it impact who you are now?

Are YOU new to case management and looking for an aha moment? Join us at CMSA Case Management Boot Camp; September 22 - 24, 2023 in Nashville, TN. Register here:

Bio: Mary Beth Newman, MSN, RN, BC-CMGT, CCM, FCM  is a past president of CMSA.  She has 35 years of professional experience with a focus on building best practice, quality-driven care management programs. Mary Beth is currently a Senior Assistant Vice President at EXL Health where she supports clinical product development including digital innovation for care management processes.