Case Management Training Built on Real-World Experience
With more than 25 years in case management, Rebecca Montano, Ph.D., MBA, CRC, CCM, CMC has dedicated her life to helping others, and now she is helping train the next generation of care managers.
“I’m all about learning and teaching all the time,” she said. “I learn so much from teaching.”
Montano wants to see care management grow and thrive, in an effort to improve patient care and reduce the need for medical services by helping patients and caregivers more effectively manage health conditions. One way to do that is to train the next generation of care managers.
As a consultant with the California State University Institute for Palliative Care, Montano has played an integral part in the realization of Care Excellence. With the support of California Health Care Foundation and The SCAN Foundation, the CSU Institute for Palliative Care worked with health plan leaders and care managers to create Care Excellence an online and in-person training program, which is addressing a care management training void by providing the most up-to-date training for all levels of care management.
“My hope is that as we work through Care Excellence and we get more and more people educated on the essence of care management and what a wonderful service it is, that we will see a lot less chronic illness and fewer people who are suffering because they don’t know where to go and get help,” Montano said.
Inspired to Serve Others
Montano decided she wanted to help others when she was still a child. She was close to her grandparents, who became sick when she was very young. Her mother cared for them.
Montano went on to earn her doctorate degree in human services with a specialization in geriatrics from Capella University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She holds a master’s degree in rehabilitation counselling from San Diego State University, and another master’s in business from University of Phoenix.
“It just fell into my lap — the experience that I had, the degrees,” she said. “It just worked out.”
Although she started her career working with children, Montano soon transitioned to working with aging adults. “The best part of my day is taking a client out for an appointment, chatting in the car or wherever we are about their life now and in the past, helping to making things happen for them, and then bringing them home and getting a hug goodbye,” she said.
“They just have such wisdom, experience, appreciation for others, and love of life. They just want to share it with someone who truly has their best interest in mind. So many people don’t get that about older adults. I gain as much, if not more than, I give. They provide me with life lessons, laughter, great stories from their pasts, and sense that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing in my care management practice.”
Dedicated to Helping Others Serve
Montano has been one of the primary course authors behind Care Excellence’s learning-management system. Far beyond webinars and video playbacks, the courses are delivered online with highly interactive activities and testing to assure deeper integration.
Because the health care industry is ever-changing, courses are available for all levels of health plan care managers to prepare them in all phases of their career for success.
“It’s a never-ending process of learning,” said Montano, who holds three industry certifications in addition to her multiple degrees. “We have to constantly be reading about policy and legislative changes. We take a lot of classes. We’re always working on continuing our education. You have to stay current on what the next generation of patients need.”
You can see some of Montano’s work in a variety of self-paced online courses on the Care Excellence.org website. Foundational courses are available for those new to case management, care management and those who would benefit from a review of fundamental knowledge and skills. Advanced courses are available for experienced care managers and other professionals in the field. Finally, the Care Excellence Leadership series teaches supervisors, managers and others in leadership roles how to effectively supervise and mentor their care management team.
In addition to creating the online Foundational and Advanced courses, Montano also teaches the Leadership courses, which are interactive in-person sessions offered in northern and southern California. “I love teaching,” she said.
Driven to Grow Care Management
Just as the health care industry is always changing, it is also growing. And there is a growing need for educated care managers. Americans are living longer, and the workforce is aging, resulting in a critical need for highly skilled care managers.
A career in care management, Montano said, is exceptionally rewarding. Because she is so passionate about her work, nurses and social workers often approach her with questions about how to transition to care management.
With over two decades in case management, Montano encourages those new to the field or considering a career change to find a mentor. They should also consider continuing their education.
“There’s always been a need for innovative, current education for care managers and for professionals who associate with care managers,” she said. “Now that we have so many people transitioning into that profession because of the changes in the health care industry, we have a lot of people that just don’t know care management — and it’s not their fault.”
“I always tell people it’s what you know,” she added. “It’s your education, it’s your experience, it’s your instinct. Being an effective care manager or case manager takes time and energy. It’s always a work in progress.”