By SMSgt Christine Gomien
Wow, what an experience! This March I was blessed to receive the Osborn Scholarship from the AHRA Education Foundation which allowed me to attend the CRA Exam Workshop and Advanced Track sessions at the 2018 Spring Conference in New Orleans. I have attended many conferences over my 20 year radiology career, all of which have been excellent for networking, learning, and earning continuing education, but my experience with the AHRA conference far exceeded my expectations.
In large part, the benefits of AHRA membership have eluded a lot of the military radiology community. The Army, Air Force, and Navy radiology fields spend a tremendous amount of time and effort focusing their energies on the complex missions that sustain the defense of the nation, which can pull them out of the hospital setting or displace them in foreign affairs and countries for prolonged periods. As a result, they may struggle to achieve the formal education, professional development, and credentialing in radiology they set out to achieve. As an active duty military member, I was hesitant at first to get involved in AHRA, feeling awkwardly unqualified to be included in a community of such knowledgeable and experienced radiology professionals. I worried that I would not have as much knowledge, experience, and feedback to contribute to such an advanced community; attending the Spring Conference made me realize my concerns and anxiety were silly at best.
While admittedly there are some tangible differences between the military and civilian radiology operations and processes, those differences, I learned, are minimal, and we share many similar challenges. Sharing information can be the key to improving and overcoming these challenges. The topics presented at the conference were some of the most relevant and valuable I have ever experienced. I returned home motivated to energize the Air Force radiology field and to share with my peers what I had learned so that we can scrutinize our operations and incorporate new concepts, techniques, business practices, and programs within our departments.
I am grateful to the AHRA Education Foundation for continuing to offer scholarship opportunities to military members. Attending the Spring Conference allowed me to identify the gaps in my knowledge and experience, specifically in the areas of budgeting, billing, and coding, which are typically managed outside radiology in military facilities. Getting involved with AHRA has helped to inspire me and focus my development and learning in these areas in order to better transition to the civilian sector with confidence. In fact, some of my favorite sessions were on regulatory changes and coding…which might be the first time anyone has ever said those words. I am also very excited to find ways to recruit more military leaders to participate in AHRA. They do not know what they are missing and how their engagement with AHRA can impact both military operational excellence and their own personal development as a radiology leader!
SMSgt Gomien is the Air Force Service Lead for the DoD’s Tri-service Radiology program at the Medical Education & Training Campus in Joint-Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, TX. She can be reached at Christine.firstname.lastname@example.org.