By Daniel A. Neal, MAA, CRA, RT(R)(MR)(BD)(ARRT), CNMT, NMTCB(RS)
I recently had the privilege of participating as a guest in the AHRA Education Foundation’s Partners in Learning program. The program allows AHRA members the opportunity to visit a selected host facility for a few days to compare and contrast how radiology managers conduct daily business in relation to their own facility. The application process is easy, and if selected the guest is paired up with a “best fit” host facility. I was matched up with fellow AHRA member Curtis Bush and his team at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. I only had three days in the area, but I was able to make the most of my experience.
On the first day, after meeting with my host in the morning, I spent the rest of the day with Ashley Overstreet, the radiology director at Baylor Medical Center in Waxahachie, TX. The facility was about the same size as the community hospital where I work, so it really allowed me to get a good frame of reference for how a radiology department is run in a civilian hospital as opposed to a military hospital. Ashley and her team were great and allowed me plenty of time to tour their areas, ask questions, and meet with hospital administration. I learned that though our two facilities are set up differently in terms of staffing and operations, they both present similar challenges. The best part about this day was experiencing the morning huddle that all department supervisors and hospital administration staff take part in. While we do something similar at my facility, I had never been able to experience anything quite like it until then.
My second day took me to one of the independent diagnostic testing facilities run by Touchstone Medical Imaging but still located on the Baylor Medical campus. I met with Shiloh Wilson, Director of Operations, and Christy McSpedden, Area Manager, and learned about how radiology operations are run in an outpatient facility such theirs. This was my first time visiting an outpatient imaging facility, so I learned a lot and was really impressed with the work that Shiloh and Christy do. They gave me a tour of both their facility and another one and were able to thoroughly explain to me the differences between outpatient imaging centers and hospitals. My time with them sparked an interest in the possibility of pursuing a career as an imaging manager at a similar facility once my time in the military is complete.
My final day was spent with my host, Director of Department of Radiology and Imaging Services at Baylor University Medical Center Dallas, Curtis Bush. Curt and his team toured me around their department and allowed me the opportunity to participate in one of their department meetings. Curt took me with him to some of the multi-disciplinary rounds that he attends and also explained to me some of the quality improvement initiatives that he and his team are currently working on. I was especially impressed with their use of “huddle boards,” which they have posted in all of the different sections of the radiology department, to include the administrative section. These “huddle boards” are designed with four pillars in mind: People, Service, Quality, and Finance. They provide an operational snapshot for each section, ranging from quality improvement initiatives to staff recognition, and are the focal point of daily huddles.
Overall my experience with the Partners in Learning program was great, and I definitely left a more knowledgeable and confident radiology manager than when I arrived. I highly recommend that other AHRA members who are looking to expand their knowledge base and network, and see how their facility stacks up against others, to consider applying for the Partners in Learning program. I want to give a special thanks to Curtis and his staff at Baylor Medical Center Dallas, Shiloh and Christy from Touchstone, and Ashley from Baylor Medical Center Waxahachie. Without their professionalism and mentorship my trip would not have been as informative and memorable as it was.
Daniel A. Neal, MAA, CRA, RT(R)(MR)(BD)(ARRT), CNMT, NMTCB(RS) is the NCOIC Nuclear Medicine Services at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Fort Belvoir, VA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.