Manning the Crow’s Nest

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By Cindy Winter, PhD, CRA, FAHRA

Whether sailing on smooth seas or rough waters, a seafarer must always be ready for anything. Old sailing ships often had a crow’s nest mounted at the top of the highest sailing mast. One knowledgeable and brave seafarer would climb up and sit in the crow’s nest looking for dangers to alert the crew down below. This seafarer equates to today’s Certified Radiology Administrator (CRA). They are the ones with the knowledge of and insight to what lies on the horizon. Planning the route, avoiding the hazards, and communicating openly amongst each other are the keys to a safe and successful voyage. We can see these same basic principles applied to healthcare today.

Imaging has continued to become more and more complex over time with constant changes to regulatory, reimbursement, capital outlay, IT, human resources, and operational management.  The CRA credential dives deep into each of these knowledge areas and validates both the competency and skills needed to be an elite imaging administrator in today’s competitive market. Currently there are over 1,100 CRAs leading the way to safer patient care, better imaging practices, and excellent service standards.

In March, I had the opportunity to meet a group of enthusiastic future CRAs at the AHRA Spring Conference in Savannah, Georgia. We enjoyed a great lunch with a lively discussion of what the CRA means and does for us. I could easily share how the CRA designation was an important hiring factor for my employer as they sought the right candidate to fit in their growing organization.

Being a CRA has also opened many opportunities for networking, business partnerships, and lots of friendships. Every year I look forward to the AHRA Annual Meeting to share ideas and solutions with my colleagues and enjoy the great networking events with friends, both new and old. This year’s meeting in Anaheim, California will be one to remember as we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the CRA! There will be a special celebration held on Monday, July 10 at 6:30pm for all current CRAs – don’t miss this event! Please also stop by the CRA booth in the exhibit hall to get more information about the CRA, and share with the RACC how the CRA has helped you.

We are always focused on growing our fleet. For those interested in becoming a CRA, candidates must meet professional experience and educational requirements allowing them to sit for the CRA examination. Once a candidate becomes a CRA, they are required to renew every 3 years by earning 36 contact hours of continuing education covering the 5 domains that are covered in the CRA examination. Additional information is available at Current CRAs should consider mentoring new managers, supervisors, and directors and encouraging them to become CRAs.

As we weather the storms of H.R. 1628, AHCA, PPACA, clinical decision support, breast density notifications, the Joint Commission, and PAMA to name a few, we need someone with proven skill sets and current knowledge of the issues to man the crow’s nest. Ships with a CRA in the crow’s nest are better prepared, more resourceful, and resilient in the path of adversity.

Fair winds and following seas…

Cindy Winter, PhD, CRA, FAHRA is the director of medical imaging services at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare in Tallahassee, FL. She can be reached at

One comment

  1. Love the analogy to sailing and that CRAs can help “pilot” their ships more effectively!

    Great call to action for folks to consider sitting for their CRA certification!

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