By Darian Sutton, CRA, RT(R)
I had been considering taking the CRA exam for some time when I learned about the scholarship opportunity. I have been in supervisory and managerial roles in radiology for over 10 years without any additional credentials to speak of. My current position is in a small critical access hospital (CAH) in Montana. I had considered pursuing an advanced registry of some sort to gain more credibility in the eyes of my employees and the CRA looked more and more like the right fit. Our sonographer has the RDMS, CT techs have the CT registry, so an advanced credential in radiology administration would show that I have the skills needed to perform my job as well as they perform theirs.
At first I was nervous about applying for the CRA Exam Scholarship. I wasn’t sure if I had any right to do so. Most x-ray techs make a decent wage. As the radiology manager, even in our small hospital, I make more than most in our little town. That doesn’t mean things were easy: I ran across this scholarship at a time when unexpected expenses hit in quick succession and I was going to have to postpone my CRA exam for financial reasons. I decided that applying for the scholarship was worth a try. The scholarship application was a straightforward online application with 3 essay questions.
I was eager to take the CRA exam. I had reached a point personally and professionally where I felt I needed to show progress of some sort. I am pursuing my bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration, but graduation is still some time out. Through my academic coursework I had learned about many of the areas covered by the CRA exam and wanted to take the exam while all of that was fresh in my mind. I was able to get the digital copy of AHRA’s professional development series textbooks for less than the normal hardcover price, which made studying easier, and used those to try to fill in the gaps.
When I learned that I had been approved for the scholarship I was ecstatic! Knowing that the AHRA Education Foundation was paying for my exam fee when I could not gave me additional incentive to do well on the exam. At this point, my employer was actually willing to pay for additional study materials (a recording of the CRA Exam Workshop) as they saw that I was committed to improving myself professionally.
The exam process was much like the ARRT exam. I have never been good at waiting, so when my results came back early I was thrilled.
Since passing the CRA in November things have moved pretty quickly. The CEO of our little CAH was given responsibility for a second hospital in December. He was looking for an internal candidate to carry administrative responsibility when he was away, and in February he asked me if I was interested. I believe that achieving the CRA in addition to my academic pursuits showed him I was eager to advance and, more importantly, that I am capable of handling the additional responsibility.
Darian Sutton, CRA, RT(R) is the radiology manager/ HIPAA security officer and interim assistant hospital administrator at Roundup Memorial Healthcare in Roundup, MT. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.