Coming Full Circle – My AHRA Journey

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By Kimberly Harrell, RT(R)(MR), CRA, CMPE         

In preparation for this year’s Annual Meeting at the Gaylord Palms resort, I have been reflecting on my last 11 years of accomplishment within AHRA since the last meeting I attended at this same venue. My primary focus at that meeting was to participate in the daylong workshop for Certified Radiology Administration (CRA) exam preparation. My three children and I had an amazing time and made great memories. We took many pictures during our trip, including one of my all-time favorites of all three kids holding an alligator!

Joining AHRA in 1995 opened my eyes to the many opportunities for a new imaging leader. In that first year, I applied for the Osborn Scholarship and was excited to receive it. My employer at the time was very supportive and gladly assisted with the various unpaid costs that my scholarship did not cover. It was a gift and a milestone for me to be the recipient of this scholarship, which allowed me to attend my first Annual Meeting in 1996. The meeting was held in Seattle, Washington, and it was an awesome experience.

Over the next ten years, I attended many Annual Meeting sessions in both the basic and advanced management tracks. At these meetings, I gained great knowledge. Another important part of these meetings was connecting with peers and making new friends. During this timeframe, my growth as a leader accelerated, and my position moved from an MRI coordinator with responsibility over six units, to manager of operations overseeing multiple sites. The various AHRA leadership courses helped me develop a skillset that allowed me to flourish.

In 2009, I achieved one of my career goals and obtained a position as a radiology director. Next on my goal list was to become a CRA. As a single mom and a new director, it was no small feat and involved extensive studying and many late nights. My favorite mentor took the exam without using the study guides and failed after 40 years of successful radiology management. She shared this with me and pushed me to study for success. I purchased the recommended books, and with a local peer, the studying started! It was not easy, nor was it supposed to be. I will never forget the day I passed the test and became a CRA in November 2011.

I attended last year’s Annual Meeting in California. I was able to volunteer and attend some great sessions. At the President’s Reception, I mingled and had the pleasure of landing at a table full of peers in my local area. At that table, I connected with John Beall, Wendy Renneke, and Carolyn Smith.

What are the chances of meeting three members from your local area at the same table? It was fate and the catalyst for putting together a local area meeting in the Pacific Northwest area. Together, within 7 months, we organized a local meeting with free CE credit opportunities and a visit from AHRA CEO, Ed Cronin. Both John and Wendy serve on the AHRA Annual Appeal committee, so raising awareness and funding for the AHRA Education Foundation (EF) was a key objective at our meeting. An enormous gift basket was generously donated for raffle by SouthSound Radiology in Olympia. The proceeds went directly to the EF. Overall, this meeting was a great success, sponsored by Kaiser Permanente and supported by Hitachi. So much so, that our team of four is joining up with some other leaders to host another local meeting with our goal being to double our attendance.

As a goal focused individual, I have always wanted the opportunity to present at a national meeting. So here I have come, full circle through the AHRA leadership program, and an active member starting as a Roy Osborn recipient, to ten plus years later presenting at the 2018 AHRA Annual Meeting. What an honor! I hope that you find your AHRA journey as inspiring and fulfilling as I have found mine.

Kimberly Harrell, RT(R)(MR), CRA, CMPE is the ancillary services manager of imaging at Kaiser Permanente in Tacoma, WA. She can be reached at


  1. Great article, Kimberly! Congratulations on your many accomplishments and reaching yet another goal by presenting at the Annual Meeting this year! …See you in Florida!

  2. Great article, Kimberly!!! Can’t wait to see you in Florida!😂 I’m so proud of you for setting and reaching your goals in your career and life!

  3. Thank you for sharing your goals and accomplishments. You are an inspiration for others.

  4. Great accomplishment. Love to see the progression of the radiology career. It is also great to see the support you receive from your job and other colleagues.

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