AHRA Education Foundation Osborn Scholarship: A Career Stepping Stone

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By Stephanie Roberts, BS, ARRT, CIIP

April 2010–I began my career in the medical field as a volunteer in the emergency department (ED) just after high school. I had no idea what part of the medical field I wanted to take on at that time. So my thoughts were to volunteer somewhere in the hospital that would have the most action. The ED seemed like the perfect starting point. Once I decided that nursing, respiratory therapy, and lab were not my forte, I thought radiology looked like the way to go. I obtained my associate’s degree at the local community college and applied for radiologic technologist school. I had no idea what I was getting into for the next two years. The schooling was tough, but I made it. I remember walking down that aisle, accepting my certificate, and thinking, this is the beginning of a great career. My thoughts were to begin as a technologist and move up through the ranks and some day become a director of the radiology department. I wanted to know all aspects of the department from the ground up. Since those thoughts, I have moved up in the department. I became a PACS administrator five years ago. I am now the PACS/RIS manager. Now my thoughts are, do I want to become a Certified Radiologic Administrator (CRA)?

I first attended AHRA’s annual meeting in Las Vegas in 2009. This meeting was quite overwhelming. Luckily, I was in the Basic Leadership track, which I entered wondering if administration was the course of action for me. Let me tell you, all of the speakers were so inspiring that I knew I had to attend the Advanced Leadership track as soon as possible.

With the economy the way that it is, I was skeptical that I would be able to attend any other meetings any time soon, due to education funding being cut at my facility—something most of us can relate to these days. But I was determined to get to the next meeting—the 2010 Spring Conference in San Diego, CA. I scoured the AHRA Web site to see if there were any recommendations or funding available to attend the meetings. I stumbled upon the Osborn Scholarship. I applied for the scholarship and received it. Thank you, AHRA!

The questions that I kept asking myself before I attended the spring conference were, “Should I take the CRA exam or not?”  “What will having the CRA credential after my name help me to achieve?” My questions would soon be answered.

I was able to attend the CRA Exam Workshop, as well as the Advanced Management Skills course at the spring conference. This sure was a wake up call for me. Both of the tracks were excellent and full of information. I realize now that it is not only the experience of working your way up through the department that is beneficial for succeeding as a good manager, but all of the literature, continuing education, and people that you encounter that are also excellent sources of information.

I highly recommend the CRA Exam Workshop to anyone that is considering on taking the CRA exam. I started this day thinking, This will be a great review of all things that I have experienced during my career. I quickly learned that there is a lot more to the CRA exam than I realized. Not only is there a lot of information covered, but the questions can be quite challenging. For example, when you read a question, usually two of the answers can be thrown out right away because they do not pertain to the subject matter of the question or they have the wrong information. That leaves two answers to choose from. The two remaining answers could both be correct. Many times, I had no idea which answer was the best—that is, until the speaker broke down the answers. The CRA Exam Workshop was a great insight to the CRA exam. It taught me the way the exam was formulated, how to go about preparing for the test, and how to take the test.

All of the speakers at the CRA Exam Workshop and the spring conference had so much information to share. Most, if not all, of the speakers were CRAs. When I listened to them talk, I could tell that they were proud to have achieved this certification.

Since attending the spring conference and writing this article, I have decided that taking the CRA exam would be beneficial for me and may take the exam as soon as the 2010 Annual Meeting.  I hope that my experience has inspired you to take advantage and get the most out of your AHRA membership by attending conferences, checking out educational opportunities such as scholarships, and by proving your skills and knowledge with the CRA exam. Remember, if you have tips or recommendations from a previous CRA exam experience, your fellow members will always be grateful to receive them.

Thank you to AHRA for awarding me the Osborn Scholarship.

Stephanie Roberts, BS, ARRT, CIIP is the 2010 AHRA Spring Conference Osborn Scholarship recipient.  Stephanie is DI systems administrator at ValleyCare Health Systems in Pleasanton, CA.  She can be reached at sshaffer@valleycare.com.

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