By William Prentice, ASCA Chief Executive Officer

Summer is fast approaching, and for many of us that means making time to relax and recharge. For some, that translates into vacation travel; for others, time at home focused on the things we never find time to do the rest of the year.

If you work in an ASC – or want to one day – I encourage you to devote some part of your summer this year to your own professional development. If you are already working in an ASC, I also encourage you to look at ways you and others on staff can invest time this summer in professional development that will lead to improvements inside your facility in areas like patient satisfaction, improved safety for your patients and staff, better billing and collections and a renewed commitment to meeting and exceeding the regulatory standards that guide all you do each day.

If you don’t already hold your Certified Ambulatory Infection Preventionist (CAIP) or Certified Administrator Surgery Center (CASC) credential, one of the first questions you should ask yourself is whether one or both of those credentials would help you take your skills and your career to the next level. Both credentials are administered by the Board of Ambulatory Surgery Certification (BASC), and both were developed specifically to meet the needs of health and business professionals who work in ASCs.

The CAIP credential was introduced just last year. It recognizes expertise in infection prevention in the ASC setting and allows credential holders to demonstrate their commitment to remaining current on this critically important, ever-evolving aspect of ASC operations.

To take the next available exam for this credential this October, you will need to apply during August. To pass the exam, you will need to demonstrate expertise in five areas:

  • Infection prevention program development, implementation and maintenance
  • Infection prevention and control education and training
  • Surveillance, data collection and analysis
  • Infection prevention strategies
  • Instrument/equipment cleaning, disinfection and sterilization

The CAIP website, www.aboutcaip.org, includes a long list of resources you can study over the summer to prepare. You don’t need to review them all, especially if you are already providing infection prevention services in your ASC, but once you determine the areas where you need to learn more, you can find a resource there to help. You can also find sample test questions on that site and everything you need to know about earning and maintaining the credential.

The CASC credential has been available since 2002. It recognizes a comprehensive understanding of the unique skill set and knowledge required to serve as an ASC administrator. You don’t have to be an ASC administrator to earn the credential, you just have to know what it takes and how to apply that knowledge effectively.

You need to apply in July to take the next CASC exam, which will be administered this September. Like the CAIP website does for the CAIP credential, the CASC website, www.aboutcasc.org, has everything you need to know to qualify for and maintain the CASC credential, including a list of study materials you could review this summer.

CASC credential holders routinely tell us that having the credential has helped them move forward in their careers, demonstrate their proficiency to their colleagues and save time with vendors and others they work with outside their ASC by letting them know at a glance that they have the expertise they need to manage the tasks at hand. They also say that making the commitment to continuously update their skills and knowledge – part of the process of maintaining the credential – has helped them keep their patients safe and their surgery center compliant with new regulatory requirements as they are introduced.

If you want to look beyond the CAIP and CASC credentials for other ways to improve the care and services you provide, ASCA has plenty of resources that can help.

This year, we released a new edition of our “Finance & Accounting for ASCs” guide. This edition includes revised and expanded content that walks you through ways to create and use key financial statements, steps you need to take to manage your inventory cycle, how to project your annual budget and respond to variances there and much more. This fourth edition is a valuable resource for CASC candidates looking to learn more about financial management in an ASC and sells at a new, lower price. ASCA members get an additional discount.

If you want to make sure your Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) policies cover everything they need to cover, download ASCA’s HIPAA Workbook. ASCA members can download their copies free.

If you’re looking for practical advice from experts on everything from negotiating your managed care contracts to responding to complaints and mastering the requirements of Medicare’s quality reporting program, take a look at ASCA’s 2019 webinar series. Some of the live programs are available free, or you can subscribe to the entire series and listen to the live and recorded programs as your schedule allows.

Also, it’s not too late to enroll in ASCA’s 2019 Clinical and Operational Benchmarking Survey. You don’t have to be an ASCA member to enroll, but you do have to be enrolling as an ASC. Hospital outpatient department data is not included in this program.

I can’t list everything that ASCA offers ASCs in one short column, so I will refer you to ASCA’s website, www.ascassociation.org, to see more. All the tools and opportunities you will find there are uniquely targeted to ASCs and their staff. Pick one or two to explore this summer and put others on your calendar for later this year.

ASCA can’t help you book your vacation or tell you the best way to tackle that DIY project you’ve been planning, but if your future involves an ASC, we can help you invest in yourself and your career. I encourage you take advantage of all the opportunities ASCA offers you.

William Prentice is the ASCA chief executive officer.