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Q&A with a CASC® Certificant: Elvin Mercado, CASC

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When you first heard about the CASC credential, what were your initial thoughts?

I first heard about the CASC credential in the early years of my career in the ASC industry as a Certified Surgical Technologist. Back then, our Director of Operations at the ASC I worked for had the CASC credential and I’ve always considered him as a very knowledgeable individual and an expert in running the ASC operations. My initial thoughts were the exam must have been really difficult given that it is normally taken by ASC leaders and executives alike and having the CASC credential after someone’s name is something that is commendable. I’ve always had enormous respect for individuals who pursue professional certifications and lifelong learning to help them master their craft.

Why did you pursue the CASC credential?

I’ve always been that employee who wanted to learn more, to do more, to be a part of something bigger. My day-to-day duties didn’t start and end in the operating room. I grabbed every opportunity I could get to learn everything about a free-standing ambulatory surgery center. My OR Manager back then cross-trained me in various aspects of running an ASC. I showed up and learned everything I could. Many years later, the stars finally aligned and I was able to move up the ladder and take on more responsibilities as the ASC Administrator. While working full-time as an administrator, I went back to school to finish my undergraduate degree in Healthcare Management and I am now a semester away from graduating with my Master in Healthcare Administration (M.H.A.) degree. Ever since I have taken on an ASC leadership role, the CASC credential has always been the credential that I’ve been wanting to earn. I remember when I attended conferences, I would always envy attendees who had CASC credentials on their name badge – it’s such an inspiration! Finally, I pulled the trigger, got approved and prepared for it. I thought that the CASC credential would truly serve as a testament to my dedication and devotion in serving and improving healthcare in the ambulatory surgery arena. The CASC credential is not just another series of post-nominal letters after someone’s name – it’s an attestation of competency and proficiency in our profession and a commitment to healthcare excellence.

What do you think is the value of CASC?

The value of CASC speaks for itself. Most of employers I encounter are now also learning the benefits of hiring ASC leaders with the CASC distinction. Having the CASC credential, along with experience, mean you are the ‘crème de la crème’, which could open doors for higher compensation and a competitive edge in the market. Earning the coveted credential elevates your knowledge and skills in leading all aspects of an ambulatory surgery center. In my opinion, the preparation for the examination itself is already an enriching and humbling experience; earning the CASC credential was rewarding and having to maintain it means a lifelong and continued learning in the ever-changing ASC environment.

How do you think earning and maintaining the credential will benefit you and your ambulatory surgery center?

Earning and maintaining the credential means my ASC tool belt will be equipped with the necessary skillset, tools and knowledge to effectively perform my duties and responsibilities as an administrator in ensuring my ASC delivers high quality care while reducing healthcare costs. In this day and age, regulations and standards are always changing and getting a lot stricter. It is crucial for an ASC leader to commit to continuous improvement – maintaining the credential will help leaders achieve this.

What advice would you give to those individuals who are considering pursuing CASC?

If you have the means to do it, and if the ambulatory surgery environment is your arena, my advice is to 100% make time for it and take it. It is an investment in your professional development and it shows commitment in your profession. You will learn so much new and valuable information as you prepare and you will be able to take that experience to better the overall quality of your leadership. If you fail at first, don’t give up and take the next testing window right away. If you are new to the ASC industry and taking the exam: study the materials, listen to podcasts, read publications and manuals and network with other CASC certificants to learn more about their own experience.

Anything else you’d like to add?

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there” – Theodore Roosevelt

You can do it!