Reaching for the Lombardi Trophy

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By Debra A. Lopez, CRA, FAHRA

February 2010 — Much to my amazement, I have become a football fan just in the last few years. Not to the point that I sit glued to the television for game upon game, but I do like to watch while I am doing chores around the house. I am learning some of the rules of the game, some of the player’s names, and, thanks to Sandra Bullock’s new movie, The Blind Side, even know the names of a few coaches. The coach, of course, is responsible for overall game strategy and for all of his players, just as a radiology manager is responsible for overall department operation and each staff member. The head coach is assisted by offensive, defensive, kicking, and special team coaches, while the radiology manager may be assisted by an assistant manager, supervisors, and/or lead technologists.  For a team to be successful (whether a football team or a radiology department), the coaches and assistant coaches must be both knowledgeable and motivating.

I think we can learn a lot from some of the great football coaches. Here are a few quotes attributed to them:

— “Do right. Do your best. Treat others as you want to be treated.” – Lou Holtz

Our “others” should include not only our staff, but our vendor partners and especially our patients. One of my guiding principles has always been to treat all patients the way I would want my mother treated. I call this the “your momma” test.

— “In the successful organization, no detail is too small to escape attention.”- Lou Holtz

Especially in a patient care environment, as coaches we need to constantly remind our staff that details are very important, details like making sure we are imaging the right patient, correctly marking an image, or securing a patient properly on the table.

— “The achievements of an organization are the results of a combined effort of each individual.” – Vince Lombardi

We cannot judge the quality of our departments simply by the quality of an image or report. To provide the best patient care possible, we must have competent and pleasant reception/ registration staff; technologists who not only obtain great images, but also treat patients safely and with kindness; image librarians and IS staff expertly managing images; and a management team making sure policies and procedures are being followed, staffing is adequate, and equipment is safely maintained. It takes the whole team, working together, to become a great department.

— “The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.” -Jimmy Johnson

Are we bringing that little extra to the table each day? As the department coach, are we encouraging our team to do the same? If we are, we are sure to enjoy more touchdowns. One way to bring that little extra to the table is to stay up to date on all of the rules and regulations we must adhere to, and continue sharpening our skills in managing both our department’s human and capital resources. Fortunately, as an AHRA member you have access to an abundance of resources that can help you bring your A game to work each day. Check out the AHRA Web site , as many enhancements have been made to it over the past year. Have you visited (or contributed to) the Sample Document Library or logged on to one of our e-communities? I encourage you to do so. Learning from and sharing with your colleagues will help you make the first down every time.

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” – Vince Lombardi

If your favorite team did not make the playoffs this year, there is always next year.  As radiology managers, however, we must make sure that our teams make the playoffs not only every year, but every day. Our patients deserve no less.

Now, please meet another staff member of “Team AHRA,” Kathryn Keeler:

Kathryn Keeler

AHRA Department: Certification Coordinator, CRA

Hometown: Needham, MA

Family: My husband and I live in Needham with our daughter. Her brothers and sister (my husband’s older 3) are grown and we’re lucky enough to have 2 of the 3 living close by.

School: I received my bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College in Iowa with a double major in Physics and Art History.  I earned my Master of Architecture from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville—beautiful area and much easier winters than Massachusetts, something I especially miss this time of year!

Interests: Drawing and painting, sewing, baking and cooking (I was a 2004 finalist at the Pillsbury Bakeoff and got to meet Dick Clark and get my picture taken with a 7 foot tall Doughboy), and of course lots of parent things.  I’m the 2010 “cookie mom” for my daughter’s Girl Scout troop; I’m trying very hard right now to resist that powerful pull of Caramel Delights/Samoas!

Deb Lopez, CRA, FAHRA is President of the 2009-2010 AHRA Board of Directors.  She lives in San Jose, CA and can be reached at


  1. great article! How true – we can learn so much as managers from how coaches manage their teams.

  2. It’s funny, the first people greeting our patients are usually the least paid employees yet the most important in this scenario. Treat them very special because they set the tone for the patients visit- they are a big part of the team.

  3. I agree with Ronda, positive first impressions are the difference between a good patient experience and a GREAT one. Every team member needs to feel they are a vital part of the team!

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