This month we provide an inside look at a healthcare case manager, the choices she made on the road to success and the challenges ahead.
Jullie Gray, MSW, LICSW, CMC, Principal, Certified Care Manager Aging Wisdom, Inc., and president of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM)
HIN: Tell us a little about yourself and your credentials.
(Jullie Gray) I attended the University of Washington where I earned a bachelor’s degree in social welfare, master’s degree in social work with a specialty in healthcare, and completed a certificate program in geriatric mental health.
What was your first job out of college and how did you get into geriatric care management?
My very first job in healthcare was as a medical assistant in a practice made up of mostly older adults. I loved it!
After I completed my master’s degree in social work, I landed a job with a public hospital district that had many programs besides just the hospital’s programs. For years, I worked in the acute care hospital with people of all ages.
The hospital system also owned a geriatric medical practice (primary care clinic but specializing in older adults). I was recruited to manage that clinic, which I did for several years. Being focused solely on management was fine for a while but I started to miss clinical work. I had the opportunity to work in the hospital’s hospice program part-time (a job I absolutely loved). I took the part-time position because I wanted to start a private care management practice. I did both jobs for several years and then my practice demanded more and more time so I quit my hospice work and the rest is history!
Has there been a defining moment in your career? Perhaps when you knew you were on the right road?
As my career progressed, I came to realize my most favorite patients (clients) were older adults. At one point while working as an emergency room social worker, whenever an older person would arrive, I would gravitate towards them. I found they had so much life experience to draw upon; they had fascinating lives and I just knew I had found where I wanted to go next in my career.
In brief, describe your organization.
I am the president of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) and a principal at Aging Wisdom, a care management, consulting and home care company located in Seattle, Washington.
The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) is an organization whose mission is to advance professional geriatric care management through education, collaboration and leadership. The NAPGCM is over 2000 members strong. Our vision is to define excellence in care management and we are looked to as the gold standard in the field.
What are two or three important concepts or rules that you follow in care management?
- Follow the code of ethics and standards of practice of NAPGCM;
- Do good work; and
- Be responsive and follow through with what you say you are going to do.
What is the single most successful thing that your organization is doing now?
At NAPGCM we are helping care mangers from across the country to do their best work. We provide a great deal of business and clinical support to practitioners so they in turn can serve their clients at the highest level.
In my practice at Aging Wisdom, we have gathered together an amazing team. We try to nurture our employee’s creativity and encourage them to grow as practitioners. We know that by investing in our staff, it pays off for our clients because they are all performing at their best.
So, really, in both of my roles, I focus my energies on nurturing strengths and promoting a culture of professional growth and development.
Do you see a trend or path that you have to lock onto for 2013?
There’s not enough people in the field of geriatrics who understand the special needs of older adults, and the problems that come up when people age. Right now there’s a shortage of not only care managers who understand older adults but if you look around at the medical field, there’s a shortage of geriatricians, social workers and nurse practitioners. As I understand it, nurse practitioners are no longer being offered specialized geriatric practice training; instead they are focusing on adults for a generalist view. This worries me; we need more people that specialize in aging.
What is the most satisfying thing about being a care manager?
It’s hard to pinpoint just one thing that makes my job satisfying. I guess like most people, I want to know that I make a difference. I am fortunate to have a job that allows me to help people. And, at the same time, my clients help me by sharing their wisdom. Working with older adults is tremendously rewarding because they come with a lifetime of experiences. Even those who have memory problems are able to draw upon their rich history and find creative ways of coping. My clients have a tremendous sense of humor even in the face of really difficult challenges. The fact that they let me be there for them during their most vulnerable moments in life is a real honor.
What is the greatest challenge of care management and how are you working to overcome this challenge?
The greatest challenge for me right now is juggling my role as president of NAPGCM and as principal of a growing company. Being president of NAPGCM, I have access to a great team of fellow board members and staff. They help keep me on track and inspire me by their commitment to excellence.
In my practice, I’m lucky to have a wonderful business partner. We laugh a lot and set small and large goals for ourselves. Because we’ve assembled a really great team, we are able to let go of many responsibilities and feel confident that the work will be done right.
What is the single most effective workflow, process, tool or form care managers are using today?
I think most practices are using some sort of care management software program. These programs typically interface with Quick Books to help with invoicing. Even though no software program is perfect, I can’t imagine working without one to document case notes and invoice clients.
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Seattle. In fact, I often joke that I was born at the University of Washington Hospital, obtained my bachelor’s and master’s degree there and will probably end up there at the end of my life to complete the circle. I can honestly say that I was born a Huskie! Usually, that story gets a good laugh.
What college did you attend? Is there a moment from that time that stands out?
I attended the University of Washington. The moment that stands out for me is when I attended my first social work class. I knew right then that I was at home! The profession really made sense for my values, personality and temperament.
Are you married? Do you have children?
I am happily married. I didn’t get married until I was almost 40 years old. This year I turned 50! It was weird turning 50 because it seems like it just snuck up on me so fast. I actually celebrate my age even though I know many people worry about growing older.
We don’t have any children but we do have a rescue dog named Gracie. She’s a Shepherd mix and loves to jump on top of me (all 50 pounds of her) early in the morning around 5:30 AM. It’s her way of getting me out of bed to take her for a long walk before my workday starts. Can’t beat that for motivation!
What is your favorite hobby and how did it develop in your life?
My husband is a landscape photographer so whenever we have a chance, we visit national arks and soak in the beauty. I love to watch him photograph and sometimes I even pull out my own camera to try to capture a scene.
Is there a book you recently read or movie you saw that you would recommend?
I really enjoy a book called The Leadership Challenge. By Kouzes & Posner. It’s helped guide me in my role as president of NAPGCM and also in my own practice.
Any additional comments?
I would encourage anyone who is interested in the field of care management to think about joining NAPGCM, and you can click here to get to the Web site. We have started a great webinar program for budding entrepreneurs called the Building a GCM Business Series. The association is ready and eager to help care managers be successful in their careers.
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