By Curtis R. Bush, FACHE, MBA, CRA
Sitting here at the beginning of June, I am thinking about all of the CRA candidates who just completed the exam in May, and I reflect back to the end of May 2012, when I sat for the exam. I remember being nervous and wondering if I had “the right stuff.” By stuff, I mean experience. On paper I did; the application itself proved that because I was allowed to take the exam.
When I speak of experience, I mean real life, practical experience in leadership that I could translate into correct answers on the exam. There are study books and many other resources to prepare for the exam, but I was concerned with actual experience. Recently, a colleague mentioned to me that they’d like to take the exam, but didn’t think they had the right experience. We began talking about the experiences they’ve had, and we compared each other’s.
The CRA exam covers the entire scope of leadership in five distinct domains: Human Resource Management, Asset Resource Management, Fiscal Management, Operations Management, and Communication & Information Management. Essentially, preparing for the CRA exam is like an individual development plan for leadership: identify what you are already good at with knowledge and skills in specific areas, and then take a reflective look at the gaps you have. Finding the developmental tasks you can complete to close the gaps in your specific areas is often easier than you think, as long as you are willing to take the risk. It can be as simple as asking to lead a team or project.
I remember when I was reviewing the domains that operations and fiscal management were areas of strength for me, but I hadn’t had the opportunity for a lot of exposure to asset resource management. It always seemed that there were other people that handled most of the planning and design, and I just needed to select the right equipment. For my next project, I asked the COO if I could be the project manager, so I could be exposed to all aspects from the beginning to clinical evaluation. It is amazing how much you learn when you have that sort of responsibility.
Communication & Information Management was also an area of “needs improvement” for me, not because I couldn’t communicate or wasn’t technologically savvy, but because it seemed the most boring. Decisions in this area always seemed to be made at a “system” level, and we just had to make do with what IT and compliance said we had to do. For me to close the gap in this area, I had to intentionally work with my IT department and the compliance people to understand why decisions are made, and how those decisions can impact overall facility operations and perception by the community we served.
As I continued talking with my colleague and I shared my experiences, we worked on some areas of opportunity for them, including coming up with potential developmental tasks that may help close the gap in their experience. There are many resources available to prepare for the CRA exam, and practical application and experience is a major part of that. As cool spring evenings turn into hot summer nights, I ask you to reflect on whether you have the right stuff, and if you don’t; what are you going to do to go get it?
Hope to see you all at the AHRA Annual Meeting in Orlando!!
Curtis R. Bush, FACHE, MBA, CRA is the director of diagnostic and therapeutic imaging services at CHI Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in Houston, TX. He can be reached at email@example.com.