CMSA Conference 2008: Orlando, U.S.A.

Posted 19th August 2008

What do you expect from Orlando? Disneyland, huge burgers and sun probably. Well you'd be right, but this June Orlando also played host to the CMSA Annual Conference ( - and they certainly did it in style.  Jane Melvin reports on her visit to the states

"Engage Case Management: Raise the Standard, Go Beyond Expectations, Find the Balance"




What do you expect from Orlando? Disneyland, huge burgers and sun probably. Well you'd be right, but this June Orlando also played host to the CMSA Annual Conference ( - and they certainly did it in style. The venue was the largest hotel/conference centre in Orlando with a twenty minute walk just to get up the drive!  The conference rooms were spacious and given that there were thousands of delegates it never felt crowded.  The Exhibition Hall, on the other hand, was quite small in comparison although they did have a jazz band playing outside the room on occasions which was unique.



The Board of CMSUK kindly sponsored me to attend the conference and I travelled with my business colleague, Beverley Roberts, who also represents CMSUK on the PR/Marketing Committee.   Although it proved to be an exhausting week in boiling temperatures and monsoon like thunder storms, the air conditioned relief of the conference rooms and the general buzz and interesting conversation made up for it.  It's hard to describe the conference schedule which is full to bursting with different keynote speakers and symposia sessions spread out all over the conference centre. We were all given a map to help us around and you needed another map to understand the schedule!  With the pre-conference sessions, the Opening Night Party, the AGM, the Grand Opening, hundreds of ‘Chapter' meetings and luncheons, a huge poster exhibition, the CM Expo and an average of 21 different symposia sessions to choose from every day, it was quite a whirlwind of different experiences and learning. The days started at 7.30 a.m. and people were still talking sometimes at 9 p.m. Long but interesting days.




The CMSA  Board of Directors were welcoming and very interested to hear about the work of CMSUK and, in particular, about our education agenda, Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. They kindly invited us to a private meeting of the CMSA Board which didn't turn out quite as expected as the Board had come together simply with the purpose of meeting us rather than what I thought was a scheduled Board meeting.  So, fully in the hot seat!  They were all keen to understand how CMSUK functions in the UK and were quick to point out that CMSUK were in an ideal position to take forward new ideas and to lead Case Management in the UK.  Their opinion was that in the States too many ‘splinter' groups and organisations had been set up for case managers within specific disciplines without due regulation or processes; this has caused problems in trying to standardise practice and accredit case management practice in general.  They encouraged CMSUK to continue with their drive to raise the profile of case management in the UK and to gain accreditation and certification for the profession.




In this regard, I also attended a meeting and presentation with the Commission for Case Management Certification (CCMC) (  The Commission take the lead on the certification process in the States and the website will give you a lot of information about how this takes place and what is required from the case managers who apply.  I asked the Commission representative whether they have a plan to extend their certification process to other countries but the answer was a firm, no.  Again, CMSUK are in a strong position to lead this agenda and have already started work to link with Universities and organisations which can support the development of the certification process.




Since returning from the conference the CMSA Board Chairman has been in touch regarding the possibility of setting up an International Forum which will be an interesting development if we can get it up and running.  This proves to me that CMSA is keen to work collaboratively with CMSUK in the future.  As far as I could see, CMSA have no desire to impose their ideas or way of working on CMSUK and fully appreciate the differences between case management in the States and in the UK.  The Chairman has confirmed that the CMSA Board is happy to remain in contact with us and to enter into friendly and open discussion, offering advice and support as we develop our membership and objectives.



This was a wonderful opportunity to gain insight into how case management functions in the States and to gather information and ideas for things CMSUK might want to develop in the future.  CMSA's Communities of Practice (COPs) are an interesting idea. They are online communities or forums consisting of a group of individuals involved in case management who have a shared purpose and common interests; I guess much like the online networks we have in the UK.  The only difference is that the COPs are all hosted by CMSA so perhaps that's something to think about for the future as CMSUK's membership increases.  At the Annual Conference there were several slots for the COPs to come together and discuss practice issues.  In addition, CMSA have an Educational Resource Library which supports short courses to earn continuing education points and produce bi-monthly publications of a peer-reviewed Journal (Professional Case Manager: The Leader in Evidence-Based Practice. Lippincott) together with the CMSA Magazine (Case in Point. Dorland) and the CMSA Newsletter (The Case Report).



CMSUK members should be encouraged to see how far CMSUK have moved on in such a short space of time. You have to keep in mind that CMSA were established in 1990 so they have a bit of a head start on us.  Going to this conference has highlighted to me what can be achieved but has also shown me the pitfalls to avoid which has been very useful. As Beverley and I seemed to be the token representatives from the whole of the UK this year, it would be great to see more of a presence from CMSUK members at next year's conference, maybe presenting at a symposia as we did this year.




My thanks go to the Board of CMSUK for this opportunity.




Jane Melvin


Director CMSUK


Chair Education Committee




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