Q&A with a CASC Certificant: Debra Stinchcomb of Progressive Surgical Solutions

Debra Stinchcomb, MBA, BSN, RN, CASC, is a senior consultant with Progressive Surgical Solutions, a consulting firm specializing in compliance, development and management of ASCs.

Debra has held past positions of ASC administrator, regional vice president and director of operations preparation. She is the founder/past president of the Arkansas Ambulatory Surgery Association, past board member of the Ambulatory Surgery Foundation, past chair of the Foundation for Ambulatory Surgery in America (FASA) and past board member of FASA and ASCA. She was also a AAAHC surveyor from 2001–2007 and was a member of the Joint Commission’s professional and technical advisory committee from 2008–2013, including serving as vice chair and chair. She currently serves as the chair of ASCA’s quality and patient safety committee.

Debra took and passed the Certified Administrator Surgery Center (CASC) exam in fall 2002 — the first CASC exam ever offered.

Q: Why did you elect to pursue the credential at that point in your ASC career?

Debra Stinchcomb: I was lucky to work for a company where advancement was encouraged. The job of the ASC administrator is multi-faceted and requires several skill areas, including business acumen; clinical knowledge, or at least the ability to understand clinical perspectives; sales; marketing; and an understanding of compliance issues. It made sense to have certification for this position, so I wanted to take the test and achieve that certification.

Q: How do you think earning and maintaining the credential has benefited you personally?

DS: I feel it opened doors that may not have been opened before. I have been honored to work on ASCA committees and was on the FASA and ASCA boards. The CASC credential not only demonstrated that I had the knowledge base and experience to pass the test, but also showed an effort to be active in the ASC industry.

Q: What do you recall about preparing for and taking your exam?

DS: Since I took the first test, I really had no idea what to expect. I did not prepare much, other than knowing my day-to-day job and responsibilities. I remember trying to get into a review class at a meeting, but the room was standing-room only and it was difficult to hear the speakers. I reviewed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services regulations and accrediting body standards, which were minimal compared to now. I also reviewed an accounting book from college and the financial reports from my ASC.

I was very nervous that I would not pass the test, as were many in the room. I think this stemmed from the fact that it was the initial administration of the test. I had already decided to take the test again the next time it was offered if I failed. Luckily, I passed. Had I not, I would have just signed up for the next test with a greater knowledge of what the test included.

Q: Any advice for people preparing to take an upcoming exam?

DS: Look at the CASC website — www.aboutcasc.org — and review the test content. Focus on those areas that you feel are your weaknesses. For example, if your background is clinical, be sure to read your facility partnership agreement and review income statements and balance sheets to determine any gaps you have in knowledge. Take the CASC review course offered at the annual ASCA meeting and go to ASCA workshops or listen to webinars that address any of your perceived weaknesses. Be sure to try the practice test.

Q: In today’s rapidly changing health care environment, what do you see as the most significant value of the CASC credential?

DS: It shows that someone is interested in their position and in advancing their career. It signals an intense interest in the ASC industry.

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