A Whirlwind Week at the Annual Meeting

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By Mark Toatley, CRA

November 2012—I was privileged, honored, and humbled to have been selected to attend the 2012 Annual Meeting as one of three Osborn Scholarship recipients (funded by the AHRA Education Foundation). My participation in this conference involved attending various sessions, interacting with vendors at the Exhibit Hall, networking with others, volunteering, and being afforded the opportunity to attend invitation only events. This article presents a summary of my conference experiences and impressions, which involves  the joy, rewards, and growth that resulted from this once in a lifetime scholarship opportunity.

Despite a near two hour delay of my flight to Orlando, arriving and checking in at the beautiful Gaylord Palms hotel on Saturday evening was very exciting! I began Sunday with registration for the conference, and attending my first session scheduled for 8:00 am which focused on providing tools to provide patients with a “wow” experience in a pay for performance culture by reviewing trends from service to experience. With each table modeling as a hospital, the opportunity to interact with others at our table included working with people from hospitals located on the east coast, west coast, Canada, and Bermuda. Over this four hour period, working with the table group and reporting out to the larger group was enriching and educational, given the timely and important information provided in the session. Having the opportunity to meet and interact with the session speakers, whom I learned were from the same city as I, further personalized the impact of the session and its content. What a great start to this conference!

The AHRA Annual Meeting offers breakout sessions and expanded sessions for both basic and advanced management tracks, as well as keynote speakers at the general sessions, and exhibitor symposiums. From this cornucopia of offerings, I was seeking to gain insight over the next several days by attending sessions on behavioral interviewing strategies, the future impact of healthcare and reform on radiology practices, coding, compliance changes, increased awareness of managing service costs and quality, tips on maintaining Lean Six Sigma results, and ways to improve patient scheduling. By attending these sessions, I hoped to enhance my knowledge and effectiveness in day to day operations in these areas. The wide array of sessions and speakers during the course of this conference provided significantly more information and inspiration for me than my already high expectations had expected. The excellent information imparted in the various sessions over the course of several days as well as meeting and interacting with others truly had an energizing effect, and yet this conference took on a larger than life experience for me based on a few other experiences.

To begin with, attending the President’s Reception was quite enjoyable, interacting with members and sharing stories of operations, challenges, and outcomes. Later in the reception, two other gentlemen and I were having such a great conversation that we were the last three people to leave the reception, again proving true how time flies when you are having fun! Having received an invitation to attend the 10th year CRA reception was exciting for me, having receiving my CRA credential in May. It was wonderful. If this were not enough, I was also invited to a VIP reception in the president’s suite, which was fabulous! Add to this an invitation to the 2012 AHRA Awards and Fellows Reception, and I was living on cloud nine!

In the midst of all of this opportunity and impressiveness, perhaps the most rewarding and memorable activity was the opportunity afforded me in volunteering; something that I highly recommend for those who have not done it. Being able to meet and work with members on the magnificent design team, and interact with so many AHRA members attending sessions by scanning them in and out, along with having the privilege of meeting and introducing nine session speakers was unforgettable. The fact that I was also honored to have a few session reviews published in Convention Daily placed me above cloud nine!

I would like to express my sincerest thanks to the Education Foundation for their Osborn scholarship selections, the previous and present presidents for their kind words of encouragement, and the entire design team for their support and assistance. I would also like to thank Tonya Brightmon for her outreach, Kerri Hart-Morris for her help and encouragement, William Johnson for his insight, Angelic McDonald for her caring, and Mark Steffen for his words of inspiration. I hope I have been able to convey in this article how this opportunity of a lifetime provided me with experiences and development for a lifetime.

Mark Toatley, CRA is the radiology supervisor at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Spring, TX. He can be reached at mark.toatley@mdanderson.org.

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