An Unparalleled Learning Opportunity

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By Tina Checchia, MBA, RT(R)(CT)(MR)

One day I was skimming though my email when I came across one from AHRA. It was an educational opportunity called Partners in Learning sponsored by the AHRA Education Foundation and GE Healthcare. The program partners two imaging administrators together: one who acts as a host and mentor, and the other who visits the host as a guest at his or her organization. As a newer manager, I immediately saw the value in this program, so I applied and was awarded a Partners in Learning grant. (On a quick side note, I am coming up on my one year AHRA member anniversary! I am very pleased with the amount of education that is available through AHRA and the number of scholarships that are awarded to members like me every year. Thank you to everyone who makes all of these amazing opportunities possible.)

I had the great fortune of being paired with former AHRA president, Ernesto Cerdena (aka Ernie). If you don’t know Ernie, I strongly encourage you to introduce yourself at an AHRA event. He has an impressive list of credentials and a lot of volunteer hours invested in AHRA. He is intelligent, humble, and he likes to share his knowledge. He also likes to gain new insights of his own. Ernie is an outstanding mentor, and I learned a lot from him in just 3.5 days.

I talked to Ernie soon after being partnered. He took his role seriously and genuinely wanted me to get the most out of my experience. We communicated several times before my visit. He helped me with hotel accommodations, directions, and proactively asked me for the key things that I wanted to focus on during our time together. That list included productivity staffing levels, a business plan to justify a second CT scanner due to CTCA and TAVR procedure growth, department major renovations, and other best practices. Ernie kept the list with him throughout my stay to ensure that he covered everything on it. I traveled to his organization, AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, which is substantially larger than my facility. I noticed quickly that AtlantiCare maintained a family feel despite its size. Everyone that I encountered was welcoming and friendly. Ernie has an amazing imaging team and leadership support.

My experience was exceptional from start to finish. Ernie included me in everything that he did. If it was on his calendar, I was there. I was not merely a shadow following him around; he made me a true partner. Ernie asked me questions and stated more than once that he was also learning from me. He wanted to hear my opinion too, which I really appreciated. Ernie booked conference rooms where we reviewed my list of things. He used PowerPoints, spreadsheets, business plans, and other tools to help me gain the insight that I desired. Ernie is a busy guy. I am very grateful for all of time that he invested into my leadership development. My goal is to close the loop by inviting Ernie to join me at my organization.

I strongly recommend the Partners in Learning program because:

  • It is a great way to learn and share best practices.
  • It provided me with an unparalleled learning opportunity.
  • I liked networking and interacting with other technologists and leaders.
  • It affirmed that we all face similar challenges.
  • It was a break from the routine day.
  • It gave me fresh eyes all over again.
  • It re-energized me.

A huge thank you to Ernie; the entire imaging team; James A. Kilmer, Jr, MBA, BSRT(R), CRA, Hospital Administrator; and the rest of AtlantiCare for welcoming me into your facility.

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

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