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

I have seen this question on social media quite a bit recently. Of course, the answer is “no,” you don’t HAVE to join a professional association to have a career in case management, just as you do not NEED to become certified in your specialty. But allow me an opportunity to share my story with you.

I had recently started my first position in managed care; we had excellent onboarding, specific to how to do the job specific to that employer. I was happy enough to go to work every day and do my best, according to my employer's job description and expectations, applying my foundational discipline knowledge, scope and practice act (nursing).

I was fortunate to meet some great people at who had quite a bit of experience and took me under their wing. One of those people was Karen, who told me about CMSA Chicago and invited me to go to a meeting. I declined, several times as a matter of fact, due to family responsibilities and other reasons. Karen was gracious and gave me resources, like the Standards of Practice (which I did not know even existed).  I was intrigued but still reluctant to go.

I was asked to precept a new employee, Katie, who knew a bit about case management, and she decided to check out the CMSA Chicago meeting. She came back the next day pretty pumped and asked me to come with her “just once.” I put her off a couple of times, but if you know Katie, you know that strategy doesn’t work for very long.

So, I went with her one Tuesday evening. It changed my career and, dare I say, my life, for the better. I met incredible people, who were welcoming and willing to share their knowledge. There was an educational presentation that night about a topic I was currently wrestling with trying to find a solution for a member. How fortuitous!

However, I didn’t join that night. I went to a second meeting to make sure this wasn’t a “one-time fluke” experience. It wasn’t. I joined at that meeting’s end.

What have I gained from my membership in CMSA (or any of the several professional associations I belong to)? I gained education, networking, informal/formal mentoring, connections and problem-solving abilities. I also had training in areas I am not exposed to every day and leadership skills that came in rather handy when I started on an unexpected leadership journey.

Let’s talk about the friendships! I met people I would never have met otherwise (MJ, Eric, Deanna, Ellen, Janet, Kathy, Lisa, Jose, the list goes on and on and on). I learned the ability to serve and give back to my profession along with the ability to be an advocate for my profession/specialty. But most of all, I gained confidence in the ability to really impact the care I give my patients/clients/members on a day-to-day basis.  Your engagement as a member can be at whatever level you want, from resources and education access, active attendance at local meetings, to committee work/leadership roles. Whatever works for you!

CMSA is currently in the middle of a Member Referral campaign. I can’t think of a better time to consider joining CMSA. If you are a member, share your story and experience with someone who isn’t and ask them to check out their local chapter and the offerings of CMSA.  If you are not a member, you don’t need to be asked to join. Reach out to us and we will connect you. Your engagement as a member can be at whatever level you want.

Members: Be sure to log into your member portal and click the "Member Referral" button. Download social media graphics, Zoom backgrounds, and much more to help you in your efforts. Remember, the more people you refer, the more chances you get to win and Amazon gift card, and the member with the most referrals will win a free #CMSA2023 conference registration (already registered? win and get a refund!).

Non-members: Join today by going to and get:

Not to mention the support of fellow case managers and CMSA staff, plus the opportunity to build your connections and body of work through attending events, volunteering, writing for CMSA publications and more.

Have questions about membership and how to make the most of the benefits? Call us at (615) 432-0101 or email We’re here to help!

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.

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