By Keri Leigh Deacon, BS, RT(R)(CT)
October 2010 — When Jay Mazurowski, chair of the AHRA Education Foundation, informed me that I was awarded the Royce and Paula Osborn Scholarship, I was excited and appreciative of the opportunity given to me. The scholarship allowed me to attend the Annual Meeting in Washington, DC by supporting the costs associated with the Annual Meeting, hotel accommodations, travel, etc. Once notified, I began to research the conference topics to get the most out of this opportunity.
When I arrived in Washington, DC, I reviewed the details to pick each session where I would gain the most information. The sessions that interested me included “How Healthcare Reform Will Impact Medical Imaging” and “The State of the State of Outpatient Imaging and Digital Radiography.” In addition, I wanted to sit in on sessions that discussed how to handle difficult people.
After organizing my week, I left my room to walk down to the President’s Reception. Before entering the room, I was a little nervous. I didn’t know anyone from the conference and didn’t know how I would be received. When I entered the room, there were people standing together and sitting at tables socializing. I found a table with one empty chair and asked if the seat was taken. In a warm and friendly tone, Peggy from Atlanta said, “No, sit down.” Immediately the members in her group included me in their conversation. As I listened, I began to understand that the people in this room live in the same chaotic, ever-changing radiology world that I live in. They deal with the same difficult physician issues, are challenged by the same hospital administrators who say, “Do more with less,” and are faced with the same employees who refuse to change. They also hold the same passion for radiology as I do. These people are engaged and interested in making radiology a successful business. As I left the reception that night, I realized I had met eight people just like me.
Beginning Monday morning, I attended the New Member & First Time Attendee Breakfast, where I met many of the AHRA members who help put together the Annual Meeting. They were all helpful and answered any questions the first time attendee members had. As I moved to the sessions offered on Monday, I continued to meet people who openly shared their processes and ideas as it related to the sessions. By Monday evening, I was overloaded with information and excited to know that there were so many resources professionally available to me in one place.
Tuesday I began my day in a session that described how radiology would be affected by healthcare reform. The speaker gave us realistic information on the future of imaging, but also reassured us that imaging needs will continue to grow as the population ages. I then attended the keynote session, where Garrison Wynn made me laugh so hard I cried. After the keynote, I moved on to the exhibit hall where I investigated the new products and services currently offered. I also used the lunchtime in the exhibit hall to network. My day ended by attending the awards ceremony, where I was able to meet the recipients of all awards given at the Annual Meeting. It was an honor for me to attend this event with these great people.
By Wednesday, I had personally talked with over 50 members about processes, ideas, and opportunities. I continued on overload with the information offered in the sessions and took a lot of notes so that I would not miss any information. I retired to my room to take a break before attending the Party on the Potomac. Once I arrived outside, I was rejuvenated by the atmosphere the party created. The party was well organized and I got a chance to socialize with the members I had met during the exhibit hall lunches and the sessions.
At the end of the conference on Thursday, I realized that being an Osborn scholar had been beneficial to me in many ways. I learned about healthcare reform and RAC. I learned how the top 1% do things differently. I also learned how administrators across the nation were handling the new Joint Commission requirements and how imaging managers need to know that patients may be getting overexposed with digital radiology. Most of all, I learned that the AHRA is an invaluable tool for radiology administrators, as it allows us to network with our peers without fear of competition. Thank you to the Education Foundation for allowing me this wonderful opportunity to network and grow.
Keri Leigh Deacon, RT(R)(CT) is clinical manager-radiology at Baptist Hospital East in Louisville, KY. Keri was awarded the Annual Meeting Osborn Scholarship in 2010. She can be reached at Keri.email@example.com.