By Angelic P. McDonald, MSRS, CRA, RT, FAHRA
My “Legacy of Mentorship” series started last month with “Finding AHRA.” In that article, I talked about the power of being introduced to AHRA. So many of our future leaders have no idea that AHRA exists, but a simple introduction can empower and influence such confidence that careers are changed forever.
This article is centered on the power that simple words of encouragement hold and how such power is entrusted to you. Many of us have hit a brick wall at one time or another in our careers. We either lost confidence in ourselves, or worse, we were never challenged in the first place. Then someone put a project in your hands that you’ve never done before. It could be something simple like writing a protocol or more complex like finances or strategy. Either way, someone thought of you for that project. They thought you could make it happen when you may never have considered it yourself.
I remember so many of these events, but I must share one of the most influential ones of my career with you. I had the extreme privilege of working with Dr. George Abdo for years when he was serving as the radiology medical director at Cypress-Fairbanks Medical Center in Houston, Texas. It was his personal words of encouragement that gave me strength to take my first, second, and even third leadership positions.
Like many of you, I did not go into imaging with the intention of being a leader or a manager. I never even thought about it. I saw myself as a doer, not a leader. I had an associate’s degree, not a business degree. Dr. Abdo saw someone who took a lot of pride in making strong, reproducible processes and enjoyed getting her colleagues involved in them. So, one thing led to another. He strongly encouraged me to take my first supervisor position in MRI even though I had only been an MRI tech for a year. Then, when we needed a cardiac CT program developed, he STRONGLY encouraged me to manage both even though the last time I performed CT personally was on a single slice unit.
As we moved towards standardized operations, Dr. Adbo wanted one person assisting the director in all areas instead of breaking the modalities down in small bundled groups. Guess who was whispering in my ear to apply, even though I thought I was quite happy doing what I was doing in CT and MRI? I was comfortable, and he didn’t want me to be; he wanted to challenge me and tease out of me the best I could become.
What he didn’t know at that time, the reason I was surviving in these areas was because I quickly realized it is not what “I” know (because I will never know everything I need to in order to stay ahead of the needs of my organization), but WHO I knew. AHRA is a family of imaging leaders with expertise in all areas of imaging and leadership.
I wish I could say it just took a gentle push or a simple word of encouragement, but I am a stubborn individual and it took some major shoving and manipulating on his part to get me to accept these positions. He was relentless in his encouragement. Between his faith and the resources of the AHRA I eventually drank the Kool-Aid and never looked back.
As leaders, it is not only our job to build the leadership bench for tomorrow; it is our responsibility. Our profession, our association, and the healthcare industry at large need us to do this. We need to be growing leaders who are critical thinkers, innovators, and who are willing and able to speak up in a crowded room and be that person others want to listen to. The wonderful thing about this is that those people are sitting in our departments right now. They have never been challenged beyond a daily patient list. They need us to allow them the opportunity to find that in themselves one project at a time.
A tremendous opportunity to get some of these individuals engaged is AHRA’s Virtual Fall Conference. Registration is currently open, and there is special group rate pricing so you can sign up the entire team. Being virtual, that means no travel costs (a huge plus), and if you get a small, multidisciplinary group together it could help strengthen relationships across your hospital or organization. Think bigger. Be AUDACIOUS! The session topics focus on leadership and management skills, not just radiology skills, and those are usable in any industry.
Thank you Dr. George Abdo! Thank you for seeing more in me than I saw in myself. I know I was not the only person who benefited from such words and your legacy will live on through each of us.
Who are you encouraging today?
Angelic P. McDonald, MSRS, CRA, RT, FAHRA is the 2017-2018 president of the AHRA Board of Directors. She works at Baylor Scott & White-Round Rock in Round Rock, TX and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.