By M Kevin Spears, CRA, RT(R, MR, CT)
October 2013—My career in radiology started in October 1991. I was at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas visiting with my career counselor. He informed me that I was not eligible for any aviation related job fields due to my failed vision test during my flight physical. I knew I was not going to be a pilot due to being enlisted, but I had hoped I could be part of an aircrew. Instead, I was offered a job called “radiologic specialist” and was highly encouraged not to turn it down.
Over the next eight years I moved from Texas to Illinois to Colorado, working in Air Force hospitals as an enlisted member of the United States Air Force. During these eight years I obtained my registry through the ARRT in radiography, CT, and MRI. I was also able to gain valuable experience in these modalities while taking care of active duty and retired military members, including veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm. It was an experience I will always be grateful for.
Nearing the end of my second four-year enlistment I had to make a decision: re-enlist for another four years or separate from active duty. It was a hard decision, but I chose to begin my journey transitioning to the civilian work force. I found myself back in Texas working as a multi-modality technologist in a small hospital. I was in culture shock in the beginning and missed many aspects of the military lifestyle, but I was committed to being successful in the path I had chosen.
One year later, I started my management career in radiology. I took a job as an MRI manager at a large downtown hospital in Ft. Worth, Texas. I quickly realized that I needed some help learning the civilian way of managing and leading. While my technical skills were in line with my civilian counterparts, my knowledge of human resources and fiscal management as well as other areas was primarily military focused.
Enter the AHRA. My boss at the time suggested I attend an AHRA conference, read their publications, and research their website. I did not ignore this advice. Over the next several years I progressed through the management ranks with the same hospital system, from radiology manager to my current position as a radiology director. During this time I attended four AHRA conferences, read many Radiology Management articles, and used many of the resources found on the AHRA website to better understand radiology management principles.
Without a doubt I owe much to the Air Force for giving me my start in the radiology field. But I also owe a great deal to the AHRA for helping me in my transition and giving me avenues and resources to learn and network with others in the radiology field. I am proud to be a US Air Force veteran and also a member of the AHRA. As the AHRA continues to grow, I am confident the organization can continue to provide the resources I found helpful as a veteran to others as they transition from military to civilian radiology careers.
M Kevin Spears, CRA, RT (R, MR, CT) is a Former Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force. He is currently the radiology director at Texas Health Southwest Fort Worth in Forth Worth, TX. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.