My Year in the ELM Program

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By Enrico M. Perez, CRA, FAHRA

September 2012—The longer you work, the more you understand that you must continue to accept change and continue to learn. You also realize we learn something from everything we experience, good and bad, and that you need to be able to focus on things that are important; not worry about the little things that we are not able to change or influence. Being in healthcare for so many years has a way of swallowing you up into a sub culture of regulations, patient care, and business. This 24 hour 365 day a week environment can make it hard to maintain a balance between your personal life and the constant demands of your professional life, which has always been a problem for me. I tend to throw all of my energy into work and maintaining a professional presence.

When the ELM program was announced, I read the information about it and thought that it might help me gain new perspective on where I was in my career and how I could improve myself to take on the many challenges I face every day. I applied and was accepted into the program, and at the 2011 AHRA Annual Meeting in Dallas, the program started.

We spent our first week in a classroom with Dave Waldron, our instructor, and went over many concept and practices, completing a variety of tasks both individually and as a group. We created business and marketing plans using our own projects we had experienced or were currently experiencing at work. At the end of the Annual Meeting we all left, having future appointments booked with Dave as well as a new group email, so we could all be in touch over the following year until we met as a group again at the 2012 Annual Meeting in Orlando.

August 2011 through the end of the program in August 2012 was a turbulent time for the US economy, and it affected all of us working in healthcare. Every business was (and still is) looking at how to survive the economy and how the cuts in healthcare would affect us. We all faced RAC audits, core measures, and new regulations, but we still had to deal with our normal budget and FTE issues, business plans, and our needs or desires for technology if we were going to keep up with ACR and insurance requirements while still offering a full service in a competitive market.

With numerous requirements on our time, it wasn’t always easy for all of us to keep up with the regularly scheduled calls for the ELM program. When the calls were held, however, Dave became our mentor and discussed our projects, listened to our issues, and for me, in a way he became my professional therapist, getting me back on target and helping me to set my focus. Dave was great at making us look at the positive aspects instead of the negatives since, regardless, we needed to move forward and continue to lead in spite of the challenges.

This program was very worth while especially since you are also working with your real life problems, issues, and tasks. The ELM program helps you to refocus, think differently about the problems you’re facing, and it even affects your personal life as you realize that you cannot and should not forget that there is more to life then work. (Did I really say that?)

Enrico M. Perez, CRA, FAHRA is the director of radiology at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, NY. He can be reached at

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