By Laura K. Haas, RT
December 2011—In the spring of 2011, I began thinking about the AHRA annual meeting. I had been receiving emails about it and finally started to really take notice of them. I had attended the past three: 2008 in Denver, 2009 in Las Vegas, and 2010 in Washington, DC. Over the three years, I had attended sessions on coding tips, Joint Commission, healthcare reform, service, motivation, organization, etc, and every year, I came home with pages of notes, new ideas to delve into and put into place, and things to check on. I know that these meetings are invaluable to me with all of the knowledge and the resources available in one spot. But with the budget constraints that my hospital was experiencing, I didn’t really think there was any way that I was going to be able to attend the 2011 meeting.
My hospital is a privately owned, for profit, 250 bed hospital. Over the last couple of years, we have (like everyone else I’m sure) been cutting back and tightening our belts in many ways. I just couldn’t see asking administration to pay for me to go on a trip – no matter how educational – while we are cutting back in so many ways. I knew that my staff would not understand how beneficial the information that I receive from the meeting is to our department. They would not remember that one little tip about the fire extinguisher in MRI that I had learned from a colleague at the meeting two years ago, saving us a ding from The Joint Commission three weeks later! I had pretty much given up on being able to attend.
One of those days when I received an email from AHRA reminding us to register, I clicked on the link provided in the email, just to check and see where the meeting was being held this year and what the dates were. While on the AHRA Annual Meeting website, I saw a link for the Osborn Scholarship. I remembered seeing the scholarship winners announced in previous meetings, but I didn’t know what it was all about. I guess that I always thought that this must be something “other” members did. I clicked the link and saw the opening line, “The Osborn Scholarships provide opportunities for AHRA members, who might not otherwise be able to attend, to participate in AHRA’s Annual Meeting & Exposition, Spring Conference, or Fall Conference.” Hmm. This sounded just like me!
I was a little timid to apply, but I clicked that link and saw the information required for application:
“What do you expect to gain from participation?”
“How will you use the knowledge you gain?”
“How would attending support your job duties and/or career path?”
These questions were easy for me to answer since I felt so strongly about the huge amount of industry related facts that I am privy to each year at the meetings! I expected to gain knowledge about my job that is not otherwise readily available to me. I expected to gain networking with a group of my own peers that I don’t find anywhere else! I would use the knowledge to manage my department to the best of my ability. I would use the knowledge to slay The Joint Commission surveyors! I would take home notes and ideas, and a newfound attitude about my position! Ok, that is not exactly how I filled out the application, but you get the point…
A few short weeks later, I received the call from Maureen Firth, AHRA Education Foundation Chair, informing me that I was one of the Osborn Scholarship recipients for AHRA’s 2011 Annual Meeting!
So, I did make it to the meeting in Grapevine, TX after all! Once again, I was amazed at how much job related information, encouragement, and motivation I returned home with. The conference center was, once again, beautiful. The daily schedules were easy to follow, the sessions were pertinent to my job, and the social events were fantastic with lots of opportunity to network.
Healthcare is changing; our jobs are hard! The scholarship and the AHRA Educational Foundation had just made it that much easier for me, and I am very thankful for the opportunities they have provided to me!
Laura K. Haas, RT, is the Radiology Director at Springhill Medical Center in Mobile, AL. She can be reached at email@example.com.