My interview subject, Michaela, works as a case manager attached to a healthcare institution. The job entails providing advocacy to clients on addiction treatment, scheduling and following up on their appointments, connecting the patients with useful resources, and monitoring the success of the treatment options. Although case management roles and functions might differ in a healthcare context, both the American and Canadian systems place the case manager at the center of the recovery journey for people battling substance abuse (Fraser & Perez, 2018; Mwandala, 2021). Speaking to Michaela also revealed that case managers’ roles might change, though slightly, from one hospital environment to another. Regardless of the specific duties assigned to a case manager, the position is pivotal in aiding recovery from substance abuse.
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Since I worked as a case manager in the past, I would be an excellent candidate for the job. However, I would not like to become a case manager now or in the future as my qualifications allow me to get higher-ranking positions in the healthcare sector. Over the last two years, my skills have developed and my experience widened to include conducting therapy for patients. Therefore, it is unlikely that I can maintain the case manager role without overstepping my mandate into becoming a therapist for the patient. As Tahan et al. (2020) explain, case managers should focus on assessing the patient’s qualification for case management, preparing care plans, accessing the necessary resources, evaluating treatment outcomes, and sustaining recovery through various strategies. Hence, it would be unfair to neglect these critical services and act as a therapist to the patient.
Reflecting on my experiences in the case management profession, I feel that I could do better as a therapist than as a case manager. Certainly, the most rewarding feeling of the job was touching other people’s lives positively. Even when a single client recovers from addiction and sustains it, a case manager feels satisfied and fulfilled. Nevertheless, my best position in the substance abuse and addiction area is as a therapist due to the skills and experiences I have to offer to the patients. Fraser and Perez (2020) emphasize passion as a necessary driving force behind case management professionals, signifying the importance of a personal decision beyond training, qualifications, and experiences. Currently, my greatest passion is to work with clients at the therapist level, a position that also offers me an opportunity to change lives. When I asked Michaela if she enjoys her job, she replied with a sparkle in her eyes and a bright smile that she “would never give up her job for anything in the world.” The passion in her heart for case management is crucial to the success of every client.
From my interview with Michaela, I learned that individual differences affect a person’s career outlook. When talking about the advantages and challenges of case management, we differed on our liking of phone calls to probation officers and social workers. While I disliked my calls with probation officers, Michaela liked them and perceived them as a tool for supporting their clients. Researchers and authors agree that communication with the client and other players is pivotal in the case manager’s role (Fraser & Perez, 2018; Mwandala, 2021; Tahan et al., 2020). According to Mwandala (2021), case managers must develop interpersonal communication and collaboration skills prior to joining the workforce to prevent burnout. Tahan et al. (2020) identify keeping constant communication with patients and other players as a key activity domain for every case manager. Fraser and Perez (2018) categorize optimal communication with involved parties as a social determinant of the case management’s success. Considering that I consider communication with the aforementioned parties as a challenge, working as a therapist, my job description would not entail making calls to the probation officers and social workers.
While everyone desires to further their career by going into higher positions, Michaela is satisfied with her current position and plans to keep her job until retirement. She plans to further her studies to be certified and expand her knowledge and skills in case management. However, Michaela is quick to remind me that regardless of her education level, she has made a choice to remain a case manager for the rest of her career life. My career plans are quite the opposite because my dream is to rise to managerial levels or at best, create a private clinic to help substance abuse patients. Michaela demonstrated how dedicated and passionate she is about her job as a case manager, with an elevated interest in serving young women. She mentioned that mothers who willingly seek help recover faster and report lower recidivism rates than other patients.
In conclusion, case managers facilitate the treatment and sustenance of recovery for many substance cases of abuse and addiction clients. My experience with case management and newly acquired skills do not allow me to be a suitable candidate for case management. However, the pleasure and satisfaction derived from witnessing the recoveries of patients you work with cannot be forgotten. Nevertheless, I feel that I will make more profound contributions to the fight against addiction if I am a therapist than when I am a case manager.
Fraser, K., & Perez, R. (2018). In K. Fraser, R. Perez, & C. Latour (Eds.), CMSA’s integrated case management: A manual for case managers by case managers (pp. 3-20). Springer Publishing Company.
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Mwandala, T. (2021). Roles, training, and qualifications of a case manager in the Canadian health care industry: A narrative review. Professional Case Management, 26(1), 27-33.
Tahan, H. M., Kurland, M., & Baker, M. (2020). Understanding the increasing role and value of the professional case manager: A national study from the Commission for Case Manager Certification: Part 1. Professional Case Management, 25(3), 133-165.