Boost Your Career with the CRA

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By Mario Pistilli, FACHE, CRA, MBA

At last month’s Annual Meeting, I spoke to many prospective CRAs and numerous others who were on the fence. I was asked countless questions about what I found to be the value in the CRA and if I thought they should pursue it. My answer is a whole-hearted “YES!” I will share some of my personal story on how the CRA credential positively impacted my career, and why I encourage everyone to pursue the CRA credential.

I was working at an adult facility in suburban Chicago and had the title of manager, while basically functioning as a director. I was doing all the HR, budgeting, capital equipment purchasing, staffing plans, performance improvement, patient engagement, and employee engagement. I had achieved my CRA, a personal goal at the time, which I hoped would help me move up from my current position to a full director role. One day, I received a call from a recruiter asking to talk about a potential director position that he thought I might be right for. He told me about an opportunity in California at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), and he said that he had reached out to me because CHLA had specifically requested a candidate with both an MBA and CRA with strengths in patient experience, employee engagement, and capital equipment projects. I was intrigued, and after many conversations I decided to take a shot and apply.

When I had my interview, the CRA credential was a key focus point. Although I lacked pediatric or academic experience, I was able to explain that the CRA credential was a validation of my broad range of knowledge of the skillset needed to be a successful imaging leader. I was able to talk through the various components of the exam, which were all essential skills that they were looking for in their next director. The recruiter said that CRA-preferred or required is becoming more common for radiology manager or director roles.

I have had people ask me why they need the CRA credential when they already have an MBA. There are lots of people that have an MBA, but that does not validate your specific experience and knowledge in imaging. Employers are increasingly aware of the credential and its use in ensuring that potential candidates are experienced and qualified in all of the leadership aspects related to imaging. Healthcare and healthcare management is becoming more complex, and being able to prove that you have the technical background, along with business and leadership knowledge, is essential. The time and financial investment for a CRA is minimal when compared to the huge potential benefit and all the doors that will open for you.

The CRA credential landed me this great opportunity to become a director at a top pediatric institution and learn new skills to further my career. Without the CRA, I would not have had a chance at this amazing opportunity. If the CRA credential could provide me a great job leading the entire clinical and research imaging program for the top pediatric hospital on the West Coast, then think what it might do for you. Visit www.CRAinfo.org to learn more and make that investment in your career and your life.


Mario Pistilli, FACHE, CRA, MBA, is the director of imaging at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and a member of the 2018-2019 AHRA Board of Directors, the AHRA Editorial Review Board, and the Rapid Review Committee. He can be reached at mpistilli@chla.usc.edu.

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