By Vivek Taparia, Administrator, The Center for Ambulatory Surgery at Swedish Covenant
Can you define the following: “Deemed status, Safe Harbor Laws, Dantrium, FMLA, Certificates of Need, and Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus Aureus”?
When I first joined the ASC industry in 2009, I felt like I had traveled to a country where I did not speak the language. The above are all examples of words that surfaced in conversations and I had no idea what they meant. For the next three years, I served as a Director on the management team of Regent Surgical Health and during our management calls I wrote down all the words and concepts I did not understand. I followed up with my colleagues with questions to fill the gaps in my knowledge, but I found that my inquiries would only take me so far. I realized that I could use additional academic training in the various subjects required to be successful in the ASC industry. Given my financial services background, I had a high level of comfort in the accounting and financial aspects of ASC management. However, I lacked knowledge in the clinical, business office, human resources, legal and regulatory aspects of the ASC industry.
To my pleasant surprise, I learned at the 2010 ASC Industry Conference in Anaheim that there exists a credential called the CASC (Certified Administrator Surgery Center), that tests for a comprehensive understanding of the skills and knowledge an ASC administrator requires. However, those who pursue the CASC are not only administrators, but are also medical directors, DONs, BOMs and all those involved in the professional management of ASCs.
At the same time, I became increasingly involved in the operational aspects of running a surgery center through the case costing initiatives I had been implementing at Regent. The more exposure I received to ASC operations, the more excited I became about taking the CASC exam and pursuing an ASC Administrator position. Not only would the CASC exam help consolidate my industry knowledge; it would potentially position me for an Administrator position one day. I decided to take the test!
The ASC Association has review workshops for the CASC exam every year in conjunction with their annual conference, which will be held this year in Dallas. These courses are posted online, so the first action I took to prepare for the exam was to download these workshops. While taking these courses, it occurred to me that my lack of knowledge was okay. The courses were catered toward individuals with diverse professional experiences. The clinical modules were focused on those without clinical backgrounds. The regulatory and legal aspects of the courses were focused on individuals without background in those aspects of the ASC industry. After all, those who are leaders in the ASC industry come from all types of backgrounds ranging from financial to clinical to legal. I believe what these leaders have in common is a desire to make an impact on patient care and a continuous thirst to learn.
I studied for the exam for about two months. The exam is offered twice a year; I took the test at the Becker’s ASC Conference in October 2011. The hotel room was packed with test takers and I sat next to an RN from Minnesota who wanted to increase her knowledge in non-clinical areas. The test lasted around 4 hours and I was one of the last people sitting in my seat when the proctor said “pencils down”. I had no idea how I did, but I got a favorable letter in the mail several weeks later!
Shortly after taking the CASC exam, I decided to interview for the Administrator position at Regent’s latest de-novo ASC in partnership with Swedish Covenant Hospital on the north side of Chicago. I am not sure if the CASC credential helped me get the Administrator position, but it certainly gave me great confidence that I am ready for this next phase of my career.
For those who have an interest in pursuing the CASC credential, I recommend taking the review course online or attending the review course offered by the ASC Association. Feel free to contact me if you have questions about the process.