There are more than 700 people in the U.S. who have earned the CASC (Certified Administrator Surgery Center) credential, but you might be surprised to find that they're not all administrators. In this blog series, we'll get a personal look into the lives of a few of those intrepid individuals who bear the CASC certification but work in nontraditional roles, highlighting the ways being a CASC has helped them be more effective at their jobs.
Luke Lambert: CEO, ASCOA
Though the CASC certification requires an in-depth understanding of the areas overseen by an ambulatory surgery center (ASC) administrator—delivery of patient care, regulatory and legal issues, human resources, etc.—that knowledge is also highly relevant to numerous other roles in the ASC world, including my own.
I currently serve as the CEO of Ambulatory Surgical Centers of America (ASCOA), a Massachusetts-based company that helps physician owners start and operate outpatient surgical facilities. But I wasn't always connected with ASCs, and I haven't always worked in the healthcare industry. My background is in finance, strategy, and operations.
After receiving a degree in economics from Harvard, I obtained my M.B.A. from Columbia Business School and went on to work for companies like Ernst & Young and Salomon Smith Barney doing equity research and helping new ventures enter new markets and restructure operations. While at Smith Barney, I learned of a surgery center company, National Surgery Centers (NSC), that the bank was researching, and I shared the information with my father, Dr. Brent Lambert, an ophthalmologist. He was already doing consulting work to help colleagues start surgery centers, and seeing the information on NSC inspired him to create a formal company rather than continuing to consult. I helped develop a business plan for what would become ASCOA and came on as the CFO when it was founded in 1997. I became CEO in 2002, the same year I earned my CASC accreditation.
At that time, I knew that I already had a command of the financial and business aspects of running an ASC. I pursued the CASC credential to ensure that I was also fluent in the regulatory and clinical aspects so I could intelligently and productively make decisions for our company—and for our partners.
The CASC program outlines the core areas of knowledge that are required to effectively run an ASC, and it became my guide to directing my own education and competency, especially for subjects I didn't have direct experience with in the workplace. Today, with my CASC certification, I feel like I have a solid level of fluency in many areas of ASC operations that people from a similar finance background may not have. It helps me relate to clients in a meaningful way—there are few financial experts who also understand the day-to-day world of an ASC.
Ultimately, the CASC certification—and its continued learning component, AEUs (Administrator Education Units)—helps me be a more effective leader in the ASC industry. More than just an accreditation, CASC certification represented an intellectual challenge to me, and it provided a means to guide my learning.
If you're thinking about seeking it for yourself, my advice is to do it. It is certainly worth pursuing for anyone who wants to broaden their toolkit for working in the surgery center industry, no matter if they will ever be an ASC administrator or not.
The bottom line, in my view: the CASC certification itself is nice to have, but what's really valuable is the knowledge and possibility that it represents.
What would you "Ask a CASC" if you had the chance? This blog series is designed to help you navigate the most important issues in ASC management and learn more about the far-reaching value of CASC education and certification. Submit your questions in the form on the right and check back for answers from SourceMed's own CASC-certified experts and partners.