By Wayne T. Stockburger, JD, MBA, RT(R), FACHE, FAHRA, FACMPE
As members of AHRA we have at our disposal a variety of scholarships, established by those who came before us, which are dedicated to offsetting various costs (from meeting attendance to formal education). The scholarships are limited and are allocated through a competitive application process. More often than not, the Member Recognition Team (MRT) is faced with the task of selecting only two or three scholarship recipients based on the best applications from a pool of 20 – 30. I have served on the MRT for the last two years and would like to share some tips that can make an application a winner.
The applications are not complex but do include questions to give the MRT some insight so that the scholarships are awarded to those members with not only the greatest need, but to those who have also best articulated the value of the scholarship and the educational opportunity for which it will be used. For an example, click here to view the questions that are asked in the Osborn Scholarship application.
To write a stand-out application for an AHRA scholarship, include enough detail on why you are the best applicant and what you expect to gain from the educational activity. For example, instead of just citing “preparation for the CRA exam” as a reason for needing to attend the meeting, explain how you expect to gain value from the CRA certification and how, after the meeting, you will continue to promote excellence in radiology administration and the value of both the CRA and AHRA. Providing more detail like this will make your application richer and will help you stand out.
Recounting experiences from previous meetings also does not explain how you will use new knowledge gained from the meeting you hope to attend. Go into more detail about which specific educational sessions or aspects of the meeting speak value to you; how you will benefit from the sessions (the more specific the better); and how you will use the experience to grow in your career, mentor others, or help recruit new members.
Often mentioned in applications as a supporting reason for scholarship need is the opportunity to network with others in the field and establish relationships with other AHRA members. These are great reasons but are not alone sufficient to set you apart from the other applicants. Instead, expand on the value of building relationships. How will this specific experience enhance your abilities to perform your job and/or develop the employees you oversee?
One of the most important questions on the application is the question of what you will do if you are not selected for the scholarship. This is your opportunity to communicate the value of the AHRA meeting to you. In these days of reduced operating budgets and curtailed educational travel, the MRT realizes that many of those who apply may not be able to attend the meeting without the scholarship. However, it is not a good idea to state this in the application. You do not want to give the impression of “if I don’t get the money, I am not going to come to the meeting” because there is no way to say this in a positive light. Rather, you should discuss what you are willing to do to attend the meeting should your application not be successful. It is true you cannot commit, but the discussion gives the MRT insight into your level of dedication to your career growth and professional development.
Correct spelling and grammar also speak to your abilities as a professional. When comparing two similar applications, the one with poor grammatical structure and spelling errors can be perceived as being less complete. You can prevent this by asking a colleague to read the application before it is sent – another set of eyes always helps. Remember that the spelling and grammar corrections in software like Microsoft Word are not always the most accurate.
Scholarship funds donated to the AHRA belong to the members, and we need to continue to ensure that they are provided to those who will use them for both personal career edification and the development and mentoring of future leaders in radiology and AHRA. Like every other asset at our disposal, the return on this investment is important to the future of the AHRA. By providing a comprehensive application that discusses specifics of the educational activity’s value and outlines how the receipt of the scholarship will have long term value to AHRA, to the membership, and to you, you just may find yourself with a winning application.
Wayne T. Stockburger, JD, MBA, RT(R), FACHE, FAHRA, FACMPE is the vice president of imaging services at Baylor Scott & White Health, Central Division in Temple, TX. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.