By Mark Steffen, CRA, FAHRA
March 2012—I would like to start my first Link article as a RACC commissioner by saying that I am honored to serve as your newest representative! I am very excited to volunteer my services to this wonderful organization. Since my term on the Commission started in January, I have had the opportunity to cross paths with two fellow CRAs: one professionally and one through personal connections. I asked both of them to tell me why they pursued the certification and why it is important to them.
Craig Davis, RT (R), CRA received his CRA certification as part of the most recent class in November 2011. He currently serves as director of radiology at the Adair County Health Care system, a 25-bed hospital in Greenfield, Iowa – my hometown in the southwest part of the state. He told me that he has over 35 years of experience in the imaging field, including imaging leadership in hospitals in Pennsylvania and Michigan, PACS sales, and consulting. I was so surprised to see that someone from Greenfield had achieved the CRA certification that I wanted to congratulate him personally.
Craig stated that he “kicked around the idea” of taking the CRA exam for a few years and had worked with leaders who had achieved the CRA status. Upon achieving certification in November, the hospital CEO was so pleased that the hospital developed publicity to promote Craig’s accomplishment in the local papers. Craig also told me that his CEO has discussed using him as a resource for other projects at the hospital.
He commented that the study and reference materials listed on the CRA website are “phenomenal” in studying for the exam. He also felt that the CRA surpasses a bachelor’s degree in achievement and sees the CRA credential as a leading indicator for successful candidates in job searches. His hospital has recently upgraded his job description to include the CRA credential as a “preferred” requirement.
Liz Bates, RT(R)(M), CRA also concurred with the notion of having the CRA credential as a preferred job requirement in her role as director of imaging and registration at the 89-bed community-based Morris Hospital and Healthcare Center in Morris, Illinois, 60 miles southwest of Chicago. I had the opportunity to meet Liz and several of her leadership team in January when they came to my hospital for a site visit on Lean tactics in registration. Liz achieved her CRA designation in August 2003.
When asked what value she thought the CRA credential brought to her career, she stated that the CRA certification demonstrates that radiology leaders “know more than just the clinical side of the imaging business.” From her perspective, she was not able to take leadership classes during her study as a radiographer; any leadership skills were obtained by on the job training. The CRA credential gave her confidence to demonstrate competency in both leadership and business acumen in order to “move an organization forward.”
She felt the basic management program at the AHRA Spring and Fall Conferences, as well as the presentations at the AHRA Annual Meeting provided a good foundation to take the CRA exam. Liz also mentioned that the imaging manager at her hospital will be pursing CRA status this year after completing her bachelor’s in health systems administration.
I was very impressed with both peers as they spoke to me and changed my assumptions that most CRAs would come from larger academic or community hospitals in more urban areas. As Craig Davis put it: though he works for a small hospital, he still encounters the same issues facing most imaging directors, such as budget and strategy development and personnel issues.
If you are on the fence about whether you should take the CRA examination in 2012, I hope you reflect on these two experiences from your peers. Deadlines to register for the CRA exam this year are March 5 for the spring examination and September 4 for the fall examination. You can find more information and register at http://www.CRAinfo.org.
I look forward to discussing your experiences and thoughts about the CRA program at upcoming conferences over the next three years, including the AHRA 2012 Spring Conference in Seattle this April! And remember that the Spring Conference will offer a CRA Exam Workshop for those of you taking the exam this year.
Mark Steffen, CRA, FAHRA is a commissioner on the RACC. He is also the director of radiology services at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, IL, and he can be reached at email@example.com.