A Personal Radiology Leadership Seminar

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By Kris Messner, MHA RT(R)(QM)

My visit to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) through the Partners in Learning Program was a wonderful experience. Going into it, my main goal was to observe and learn more about the areas I currently manage, especially US, CT, and IR. Less than one hour into my “foreign exchange trip,” as we liked to call it during my time there, I realized I had set my sights too narrow and needed to rethink how I was going to take in as much information as I could during my four scheduled days. The staff at CHOP had expected this and had put together an all-encompassing schedule planned for me so I could see as much as I could in the time that I had.

While speaking with department leads about standard operations such as workflow and staffing I quickly noticed trends among all the departments that pointed to an organized leadership team that functioned very collaboratively. CHOP imaging leadership encourages departments to make decisions that work for them; they are not ruled by a top down management style. This has created a culture which enables them to function autonomously and has increased employee engagement and satisfaction.

The leads talked about trust being a huge factor in engagement. They have put in hard work to build the trust that is needed to obtain and retain a highly engaged staff. They understand trust is a two-way street between the leads and their staff, and it is not possible without trust between managers and leads – without one you cannot have the other.

A few things the leadership team has implemented to build that trust include shared governance, stretch assignments, and including associates in leadership meetings. The shared governance program has brought all the modalities together and allowed them to broach topics from day to day operations to policy development in a collaborative and structured way that benefits all those involved. They also encourage high achievers in their departments to stretch themselves by involving them in projects that many organizations only allow their leadership to do. I was able attend their monthly imaging leadership meeting, where they include three different front line staff members every month, and I witnessed trust being built between the two levels of associates. I expected the staff to sit in a corner and keep to themselves, but what I experienced was the exact opposite; the guests were engaged and active participants in the discussion.

I received so much valuable advice and coaching from the radiology leaders at CHOP that I would compare it to a personal radiology leadership seminar where I was the only audience member – only instead of sitting in an auditorium, it was real life action. The biggest take away for me was the philosophy that “radiology needs to be a solution to issues within the hospital and not the issue itself.” Seeing this message being actively practiced really hit home for me and put a lot of things into perspective. For example, when we get the opportunity to provide a new service or perform a new procedure, instead of getting upset about having more work, we all need to be grateful for the chance to prove ourselves as a needed resource for our organization. This is just a simple example, but as radiology leaders we need to remember this and instill this attitude in our staff to achieve greatness.

I encourage all leaders to take advantage of the knowledge and wisdom that one can learn from someone else. Thank you to the AHRA Education Foundation and GE Healthcare for making this visit happen. I would also like to thank all those at CHOP who took time out of their busy schedules to meet with me. Everyone was more than happy to accommodate me observing and asking questions in their departments.

Kris Messner, MHA RT(R)(QM) is the manager, radiology imaging services at Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo, IA. He can be reached at kris.messner@wfhc.org.

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