By Mark Toatley, CRA
Another Annual Meeting is approaching, and my anticipation is growing as I think about what attending past meetings has meant to me. I would like to share a few things to provide a snapshot of what I love about the Annual Meeting. For starters, it is always held in an exciting city with a wonderful hotel site and accommodations. I think of how good it will be to see old friends again and explore the local attractions together. The wide variety of sessions makes me feel like a kid in a candy store. Plus, there are ample opportunities to meet people from all over the country and beyond. My past experiences are special to me, and I always leave the meeting more enriched, enlightened, and with a renewed sense of focus to take things back to those not fortunate enough to attend. Thinking about my memories of past Annual Meetings heightens my interest in the upcoming meeting.
This particular meeting carries another layer of intrigue for me, since I am this year’s Design Team Chair. From my vantage point as a Design Team member, I am so looking forward to offering our members a welcoming and exciting learning environment and experience that leads to lasting memories. The Design Team takes special pride in being a positive resource for members, standing ready to help make each member’s experience unforgettable.
Years ago, my manager at MD Anderson, who was enamored with AHRA, encouraged me to attend the Annual Meeting shortly after I was hired. I had about as much awareness of AHRA as I did the inside of the NASA space center; in fact, I probably knew more about NASA. So off I went, largely clueless about what I was about to experience and how much my life and career would be positively influenced. After arriving and registering, I began to read over the session offerings, and I wanted to attend so many presentations.
My manager suggested that as a new manager to the organization, I should participate in the Basic Management Track. Best decision I could have “agreed” to! I bonded with a number of session presenters and attendees in various classes. At future Annual Meetings, I became more involved and started volunteering, including writing an article that was reviewed and published in Convention Daily, a newsletter available to members that recaps the previous day’s events and provides other relevant information each day of the meeting.
During a reception at one of the meetings I attended, another member mentioned that I should look into learning about transformational leadership. Unknown to her, this suggestion set me on a mission that ultimately led to extensive work at my home facility that I was able to write about and have published in Radiology Management. I do not think to this day that she is aware of how much this conversation impacted me.
Through my volunteer work assisting the Design Team, I observed their genuine desire to help everyone, which led me to express interest in joining a future Design Team. Today, I am a proud Design Team member thrilled about being roughly 12 weeks away from heading to Nashville to be with friends I miss and to serve in a an organization which I so respect and revere!
I hope this snapshot has offered you a glimpse into what I love about the Annual Meeting, why I am proud to be a member of AHRA, and what a distinct honor it is to give back to our great members by serving on the Design Team. I encourage all of you to join me this summer in Nashville. With just a little effort, you are destined to leave more inspired, more enriched, and with more memories then you could have imagined.
Mark Toatley, CRA is the director of radiology at Wesley Long Hospital in Greensboro, NC. He can be reached at Tayari7@hotmail.com.