By Kady Kocik, MSN, RN, CCM, CPHQ
I always figured I was going to be a nurse. My grandmother was a nurse specializing in hospice case management, and my mom also received her nursing degree. I have heard of other families that share this nursing “itch” and keep it in the family. What I believe is unique to my nursing path is the area I knew I would focus on. The area of case management. I have told many people over the years that I went to nursing school to be a case manager; I usually get a side-eye- “Really- how could that be?!” or “Why??” Sometimes I will get a “Woah- that’s cool,” but usually only when I am speaking to a tenured case manager because you know, they get it!
So how did this come to be? My grandmother pioneered hospice case management in Florida back in the day (although it wasn’t referred to as case management back then). My mom practiced as a nurse clinically in Detroit before our family moved to Nashville, TN, so my dad could pursue a law degree. My parents had two young girls, and my mom knew it would be difficult to work clinically while my dad was in school. She stumbled into case management working for a company called Intracorp. She became very passionate about this new career choice and went on to get her case management certification the first year it was offered. She was actually the very first certified case manager in the state of Tennessee!
After several years of working for Intracorp, my mom and her (eventual business partner) friend decided they could go out on their own. Care Management Consultants was born. Their focus was on workman’s compensation claims case management. The focus was on getting people who were injured on the job back to work safely and efficiently. Their business grew quickly, and they fostered relationships that eventually would allow them to contract with the state of Tennessee for all workman’s comp claims! They continued to see success and expanded into Kentucky and Georgia. Eventually, they had over 80 nurse case managers working for the company across the three states. The business continued to flourish, and my mom was nominated as a rising female leader by the state of Tennessee. Both of my aunts (her sisters) went back to school to get BSNs and started working for the company as well!
When I decided to go to nursing school, I knew it would be to focus on case management with hopes of taking over her company one day. As most stories go, I met a boy… He was living in Colorado, and I quickly realized I would have to give up that dream of owning her company. But love does crazy things, and I was thrilled to move to Colorado. After working for several years in the ICU and ED, I transitioned to hospital-based case management. I LOVED every part of that job! I was still using my clinical knowledge, but now, I also got to become an attorney, pulling together facts of a chart to have adjudicated (by the payer); as well as an investigator, finding the right resources for the patient to safely discharge; and also as a social worker, yikes, no way can I send this baby home with that parent! It was exciting, and every day was different. I then became the Director of Case Management and then the Vice President of Quality and Compliance. During that time, I also received my case management certification along with my master’s degree.
I eventually left the hospital setting and have spent the second half of my career working with companies that sell technology and services to help hospital-based case management and utilization management programs. I am passionate about bringing efficiencies to these nurses and physician advisors because I know what a difficult job it can be! I have always said that any good case management program is the ”guts” of any hospital organization. Case managers sit at the center of clinical care and revenue integrity. It is such an important job. Hospital margins have been dismal post-Covid, and the labor cost and labor shortage are certainly not helping. Every dollar counts and any smart CFO knows that to drive revenue; you must have a top-notch case management program. I bang this drum with every executive I meet across the country.
I am now proud to say that we may just have a 4th generation nurse coming down the pike! My oldest daughter is a sophomore in college working towards a degree in, you guessed it, nursing!! Now, we will just have to wait and see if she also goes down the case management path! A mom (and a grandmother and a great-grandmother) can hope!
Learn more on how to demonstrate your value at our Case Management Week Town Hall "Know Your Value." Join us for our daily #CMWeek2023 events for CEs, networking, prizes and so much more! For the full schedule and registration links, go to https://cmsa.org/about/national-cm-week/
Bio: Kady Kocik is a passionate healthcare leader in the Revenue Cycle space. In her current role as Vice President- Clinical Product Specialists at Iodine Software, Kady leads the Clinical and Product SMEs to support growth strategy. Prior to joining Iodine Software, Kady was the Vice President of Channel Partners at SOC Telemed and spent a decade at EHR (later Optum) as the Sales leader for Optum PA Solutions.