By Tina Checchia, MBA, RT(R)(CT)(MR)
I began my journey as an imaging manager on May 9, 2016. I left my rather cozy CT position where I was respected for my expertise and could answer questions without missing a beat. I had a mountain of confidence, occasionally sang along terribly to the radio, and I knew exactly what fueled me with passion and purpose. I was at the top of my game, and it felt amazing. Fast-forward to my first day as the imaging services manager at a new organization. Everything changed instantly when I started wearing dress slacks to work instead of scrubs. Confidence quickly turned to uncertainty. Expertise became inexperience. I researched answers instead of already knowing them. I felt lost, not cozy, and I traded my singing career in for my professional face. I went from comfortable to overwhelmed in a mere instant.
The transition from clinical guru to barely a junior manager was a critical time for me. My emotions ran high. I was insecure, and self-doubt had plenty of room to settle in. But I didn’t let it because I wanted to succeed. I wanted to blow my job description away. I constantly told myself, “I can do this,” even on the days where I left work feeling defeated.
I had come into the role with an idea of what I thought imaging administration entailed. It turned out that I missed quite a few job functions on my ticker. I realized early on that I needed educational resources that aligned with my new role. My director, Robin Wible, introduced me to AHRA. Now that I am acclimated to my position, I can attest that AHRA successfully categorized my responsibilities into a few familiar subjects:
- Operations Management: Everything policy, procedure, people, regulatory, and service related.
- Fiscal Management: The dreaded budget complete with Excel spreadsheets. It encompasses the fiscal calendar, operational versus capital expenditures and planning, staffing, the productivity matrix, POs, CERs, and so much more.
- Asset Management: Equipment and other resources (the age of it, the salvage life, how to manage it), equipment contracts, planning for replacement, and justifying new equipment purchases to implement growth strategies.
- Human Resource Management (aka people management): My new role was my first real introduction to effectively managing people and holding everyone equally accountable to my organization’s employment practices.
- Communication and Information Management: Way more than PACs and the electronic medical record. Every modality has its own third party IT support system that assists with dictation and/or post-processing. There are big initiatives such as enhancing accessibility, IT integration throughout networks, enterprise systems, and the cloud, just to name a few.
I read articles and applied for scholarships funded by the AHRA Education Foundation shortly after becoming a member. The Osborn Scholarship allowed me to attend my first AHRA Annual Meeting, and I am participating in the Partners in Learning Program. The Annual Meeting was a great experience, not only for the courses, but the networking. I observed first-hand a community that is motivated and committed to leadership development. I felt instantly called to serve and motivated to get involved. I was determined to figure out what my contribution could be before I boarded my return flight home.
I narrowed it down to writing articles and volunteer work. Next question, what on earth would I write about? It took all week, but an “aha” moment happened at the closing session. I could write about my experiences as a new manager. I could share my journey. I could be vulnerable, raw, funny, light, and provide a safe avenue for all new managers and maybe even some veteran leaders to talk openly in order to build that valuable support system. I was sitting next to Bob Price (who, by the way, is an awesome human being) jotting my ideas down when new AHRA President, Angelic McDonald, gave her opening speech. She shared her leadership story and talked about her insecurities when she transitioned into her first supervisory role. That moment affirmed my decision to start the “Junior Manager” blog series.
My leadership journey started almost a year and a half ago. My confidence levels are much higher these days. I know my purpose and my leadership style, and I can answer many questions without researching them. My professional face has relaxed. I once again enjoy singing along terribly to the radio on occasion. I am not lost. I don’t know everything, and that is ok. I always want to feel challenged to learn more. I embrace values like humility; some of the greatest lessons learned happen through mistakes. The first real step in leadership is realizing that you cannot do it alone. I cordially invite you to be a part of my journey as I continue to find my way through this crazy, unpredictable world of imaging administration.
Tina Checchia, MBA, RT(R)(CT)(MR) is the imaging services manager at UPMC Pinnacle Memorial Hospital in York, PA. She can be reached at Tina.Checchia@pinnaclehealth.org.