Cardiovascular Sonography Program Chair Mark Berges recently passed the CCI – Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist (RCIS) Board Exam.  This new certification will allow him to work with any procedure that requires catheters.

He spent seven months preparing for the exam, which gives him a unique perspective with which to advise students.  He reminds them that “a Registry Exam (Boards) is not a quiz, not a test, not a midterm, nor a final exam. It is something that requires full commitment, integrity, and devotion.”  His recent experiences with the exam give him extra credibility that he might not have if he had received his credentials decades earlier.

Like many people who take the test, Mark Berges didn’t pass it on his first attempt.  He has turned this experience, too, into a way to help his students.  He has let them see his disappointment, but he has also led by way of example in his determination to persist and keep working towards his goal.

Berges reminds his students that he didn’t go to school to learn his new skills.  He only had books and online videos to teach himself, whereas CVS students have classes and review sessions and books and tutors and all sorts of other resources.

When asked why he wanted to learn this new skill, Berges talks about the thrill of fixing a problem, instead of just diagnosing it.  With an instrument attached to a catheter, defects in the heart can be mended as well as in the coronary arteries, and that’s much more satisfying than just observing the issue.

Berges points out that changing a heart valve used to be an invasive procedure requiring the chest to be cracked open.  But now it’s much easier with a catheter and small incision to access the femoral artery. In many cases, the patient doesn’t need much more than a local anesthetic; in fact, the patient can watch the whole procedure on the screen, if the patient wants to do that.

Mark Berges says that the most wonderful innovations in the field are being developed right now.  Once procedures with catheters were done with x-rays, but now, they’re being done with ultrasound, which means there is less or no radiation exposure—which improves the health of both the patient and the healthcare provider.

Indeed, it is a wondrous new world in the field of heart care. Students and patients alike are lucky that Mark Berges is here to be our guide.