Gaining Knowledge and Confidence

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Michelle Garza

By Michelle Garza, RT(R)

I am truly grateful for the opportunity to attend the 2014 AHRA Spring Conference in San Antonio as an Osborn Scholar. I have benefited tremendously from this experience by gaining knowledge about current regulatory standards in healthcare, innovative products, and new management methodology. The conference had a “fiesta” theme since Fiesta® San Antonio coincided with the conference. The Design Team created a fun fiesta atmosphere by going above and beyond in making everyone feel welcome. They even welcomed us with piñatas and sombreros. The Menger Hotel was both historical and beautiful. The food was delicious and plentiful. I left the cold Chicago weather and was greeted by warmth and sunshine!

I decided to apply for the scholarship based on the agenda and speakers. Deciding between the Advanced Track and the Basic Track was a difficult decision as both tracks had interesting topics and offered many opportunities for professional growth. I ended up deciding to attend the Advanced Track. With topics ranging from the new Joint Commission imaging requirements, improved patient experience, and my favorite session, “Positioning for Positive Personal Potential,” I knew I would leave the conference with a wealth of information to share with my colleagues.

I was most inspired to make a change in my personal management style after listening to John Self’s discussion on “State of Healthcare in the US: Navigating Through a Period of Unprecedented Change.” John spoke about proactive leadership and professional development, among many other interesting ideas and opinions. His discussion on the US deficit and the impact on healthcare providers was eye-opening. My biggest takeaways were to engage in more clinical work with my staff as the healthcare environment is changing and to seek feedback from our customers (both patients and referring services) on our overall service. John reminded us all to “do what is right when no one is looking.”

I was also impressed by the presentation by William West, PhD, DABR, CHP from West Physics Consulting and thankful that he made his slides available as a handout, as I took a lot of notes. With the effective date for the new Joint Commission standards coming up in July 2014, the audience was eager and attentive. William took the time to answer any questions the audience had. He identified which imaging modalities will be affected and gave us the dates for full compliance. When William asked the audience how we were managing our protocols I realized an opportunity for education in my own department. Upon conclusion of his talk, I left with a greater understanding of the importance of the new requirements and the overall impact these changes will have on my department.

The sponsors and exhibitors for the event were gracious as well. Their displays featured state of the art product information. Conference attendees mingled over meals with the vendors. It was a casual atmosphere with easy conversation between all. It was a wonderful opportunity to have all of the exhibitor booths together in one area featuring the latest imaging technologies.

Another takeaway I had from attending the conference was the networking opportunities. I was introduced to several people who were friendly and engaging, and I will continue to utilize them as resources for questions that arise along my career pathway.

Being selected as the Osborn Scholar was truly an honor. The knowledge and confidence I gained along with the people I met was invaluable. By taking the time to put thought into my winning application, I was rewarded with a wonderful educational opportunity provided by AHRA. Attending the 2014 Spring Conference is an experience I will not forget.

The application deadline for the Annual Meeting Osborn Scholarship is June 9. Click here to apply.

Michelle Garza RT(R) is the manager of diagnostic imaging at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago in Chicago, IL. She can be reached at

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