By Patricia Noonan, MBA, RN, CCM, FCM
Looking back at June 2021, I remember that time in my professional career journey with a sense of joy and gratitude. In June of 2021, I received the Case Manager of the Year (CMOY) Award from CMSA. I recall how grateful this award made me feel in 2021, a time when the world was still recovering from the 2020 pandemic. The year 2021 was a time of navigating change for so many colleagues in the case management community, myself included. In the fall of 2020, I stepped down from the leadership position I held in a large healthcare system. I recall it was an important time to practice self-care, reflect, and recharge for the next phase in my career.
Working as a case management leader for twenty years, I was fortunate to have realized early on in my career that I loved all things case management and working with case management teams. Therefore, I immersed myself in helping teams of professional case managers over the years to adopt best practices, grow, and further develop their roles to help patients and caregivers achieve quality outcomes. As a manager, I recognized how important it was to express gratitude to my staff and colleagues for their valuable work to improve patient care. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that managers who regularly express gratitude help their staff to develop a sense of self-worth, improving motivation, confidence, and productivity. (Discovering the Health and Wellness Benefits of Gratitude)
As I reflected more on gratitude, I soon realized that no one in case management works alone and it is the professional colleagues you meet along your career journey that touch your life in a positive way that brings you a sense of joy and gratitude. Therefore, it is important to practice gratitude which helps us to acknowledge others’ roles in our lives.
What is Gratitude?
According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, gratitude is “the state of being grateful or thankfulness.” Gratitude is derived from the Latin word “gratus” which means to be grateful. Gratitude is the positive emotional state of appreciation and gratefulness. Synonyms of gratitude include “appreciation” which is the acknowledgment of having received something good from another. Physicians Randy Sansone and Lori Sansone provide a broad definition of gratitude as “the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself.” (Gratitude and Well Being: The Benefits of Appreciation)
Why is Practicing Gratitude Important?
Research conducted over the past two decades shows there are benefits to one’s health by practicing gratitude. According to Psychologist Robert Emmons who conducted research on gratitude making a conscious effort to regularly practice gratitude can help individuals to experience physical, psychological, and social benefits. (Why Gratitude is Good) Physical benefits include individuals having “stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, exercising more, and sleeping longer.” Psychological benefits include individuals experiencing “higher levels of positive emotions, more joy and pleasure, more optimism and happiness.” Social benefits include individuals being “more outgoing, helpful, generous, compassionate, forgiving, feeling less lonely and less isolated.”
Ways to Practice and Cultivate Gratitude
There are many simple ways one can practice gratitude. Below are some ways that researchers and others have found resulted in a positive benefit to the participants.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Record in the journal regularly those for which you are grateful.
- Write down five or more things you are grateful for in your life and why.
- Thank someone new each week that has inspired you to be a better person.
- Write down three good things that went well at work at the end of the week.
- Write a letter to someone who made a positive difference in your life.
In addition, according to Harvard Medical School, adding prayer in your life and meditating regularly are ways one can cultivate gratitude. (Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier)
Finally, a meaningful way we can all practice gratitude right now is to formally recognize those individuals who have demonstrated distinguished service to the case management profession by submitting a nomination to the CMSA Awards Program for the following awards: Case Manager of the Year (CMOY); Award of Service Excellence (AOSE); and Lifetime Achievement Award. CMSA’s Awards Program information is available at https://cmsa.org/awards/
- Burton, L. Discovering the Health and Wellness Benefits of Gratitude. Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. https://www.whartonhealthcare.org/discovering_the_health
- CMSA Awards Program available at https://cmsa.org/awards/
- Emmons, R. Why Gratitude is Good. November 2010. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_gratitude_is_good
- “Gratitude.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster. Accessed December 2022.https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gratitude
- Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier. Harvard Medical School. August 2021. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier
- Sansone RA, Sansone LA. Gratitude and Well Being: The Benefits of Appreciation. Psychiatry (Edgemont). 2010 Nov;7(11):18-22. PMID: 21191529; PMCID: PMC3010965. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3010965/pdf/PE_7_11_18.pdf
Bio: Patricia Noonan, MBA, RN, CCM, FCM, is a passionate advocate for case management with over twenty years working in case management leadership roles. Recently retired as Director of Care Management in a large healthcare system, she is currently serving as Treasurer on the CMSA board and the CMSA Foundation board. She is experienced in population health: ACO and employee care management program development. She has published articles and presented on case management topics. Patricia is the recipient of the CMSA CMOY Award in 2021, CMSA AOSE Award in 2017, and was recently recognized as a Case Management Fellow (FCM) in 2022.