Reflecting on My Career and AHRA

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Rubenzer_BernieBy Bernie Rubenzer, MBA, FAHRA

After 44 years in radiology, I am retiring as of June 1. I’m not sure how I’ll feel in the future, but my career sure has been interesting! My radiology career started out in the Army at an excellent school at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas. I still remember much of what I was taught there back in 1971. Over the years, it seems like radiography students have been challenged less and less. Also, back when I went to rad tech school, we were paid a stipend. Now they have to pay to go!

Next, I earned my bachelor’s degree in health sciences followed by an MBA. Was it worth it? I don’t know. The MBA may have opened doors for me, but I’m certain I only used at most 10% of what I learned in the program. Young people ask me now if they should pursue a master’s degree, and I don’t really know what to tell them!

Then, I moved on to management. In my second management job I worked at a staff model HMO. I remember a local vendor coming in with a loud red jacket, talking to me about AHRA. I joined a local chapter and eventually got involved with the Midwest region. I absolutely loved it! The people were great: motivated, smart, and exciting. I decided to submit an article for possible publication in Radiology Management, and was thrilled when it was accepted. It was at that point I found out I loved to write. I eventually went on to become the Midwest regional president for AHRA. After that I was involved in different committees on the national level.

I eventually wanted to learn about the physician side, so I got involved in practice management, which led me to involvement in the RBMA and MGMA. Again, top notch associations with very bright people.

Looking back, I can honestly say that my involvement with AHRA was by far the best part of my career. I met great people, learned a hell of a lot, made lifelong friends, and got to see most of the country by attending numerous Annual Meetings, board meetings, and retreats. I have such phenomenal memories of AHRA. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know that I plan to keep in touch with AHRA.

As far as society goes, I don’t know what to think. There is so much emphasis on the financial side of healthcare right now that I’m glad to be getting out of it. I got into the profession to help others, and the focus now always has a dollar sign as the bottom line. All the buzz about value based care is about making money. I’ve always considered myself a spiritual person. I studied Zen in my early twenties. I am concerned because since the 1960’s, all of the emphasis is on the physical rather than spiritual side of people. But then again, the physical is where all the dollars are.

It is interesting how perspectives change. I remember the anxiety associated with going to the doctor as a young child as soon as the smell of sulphur hit my nostrils (all physicians’ offices smelled like that years ago). I never would have thought that years later I would be in the field, working shoulder to shoulder with physicians. I was fortunate enough in some of my jobs to be able to sit with them and learn. I do like the physicians that have come out the last 15 years or so: nice, normal people and very few big egos. No more radiologists throwing barium in my face for not getting around the fluoro table fast enough or orthopedic surgeons throwing cassettes at me. To top it off, my daughter is actually starting medical school this fall.

Over the years of a career, you can often forget just how much you actually know. I was involved briefly with an educational institution to help set up their rad tech program, and part of that involved designing courses. After a while, I realized how much we are expected to know as technologists (anatomy, physics, chemistry etc.)! Add in all of the business knowledge that is needed for management, and you end up with quite a wealth of knowledge.

In closing, I would like to say thank you, AHRA. You have been a great friend!

Bernie Rubenzer, MBA, FAHRA joined AHRA in 1983 and is now retired. He can be reached at

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