By Brenda Heideman, BS, RT(R)(C)(M)
“Connections” is the key word that comes to my mind when I recall the recent AHRA Annual Meeting in Orlando. Healthcare, and imaging specifically, has continued to evolve at lightning speed, and the small rural hospitals and critical access hospitals have a huge obstacle to overcome to keep up with these changes. Leaders and managers of these imaging departments need those like-minded individuals, or “connections,” to share their knowledge and influence the success or failure of these facilities.
Nearly twenty years ago, I entered radiology technology training at the University of South Alabama, not only as a means to provide a life for my family, but to also fulfill a passion of making a difference in an elderly person’s day and life: my grandmother had been this influence! In 1997, I received a phone call from a friend of mine that Community Memorial Healthcare, the hospital where my grandmother lived all her life, had an opening for a radiologic technologist. The opening was unique because, at the time, the only registered technologist there was the radiology director. Connection!
Immediately, I corrected an out-of-date resume and faxed it to the radiology director, and I soon received a phone call from him. As he interviewed me over the telephone, we discovered that, years earlier, he had worked in a radiology department in Jefferson City, Missouri, where I was volunteering in a work-study program with the local high school. Connection!
Twenty years, multiple modality certifications, and a Bachelor’s degree later, I accepted the position of Director of Radiology for Community Memorial Healthcare. We are part of the Heartland Health Alliance, a group of local hospitals in the surrounding area that meet and discuss issues affecting them and how they are handling them. In one meeting, Sharon Harms, the director of imaging for Bryan Healthcare in Lincoln, NE, introduced me to AHRA and the CRA credential. She requires her managers to be CRAs, and she explained the benefits of AHRA membership to me. I took the leap and joined AHRA on my own, immediately becoming involved in the online member forum and gleaning a tremendous amount of knowledge from those responding to my requests for direction. In the forum, I have found a tremendous support system from the AHRA membership; a set of people associated together for a common cause. My next goal in imaging is to become a CRA.
The AHRA Education Foundation serves an excellent role in supporting participation in AHRA by offering the Osborn Scholarship. I was excited when I received a call from the Education Foundation Chair, Cathleen Story, informing me that I had received the scholarship for the Annual Meeting in Orlando!
The meeting was a whirlwind of informative sessions designed for new leaders. In the Introduction to Project Management session, led by Jeffrey Palmucci, I received excellent guidance and knowledge as we discussed major projects we are facing or have faced. Another leader from a critical access hospital in Alaska discussed with me a list of her recent successes and failures during their installation of an MRI scanner, and gave me her business card for any further questions or help. This could not have come at a better time, since our facility is entertaining an in-house MRI – more connections!
The final day of the conference, I raced to change into pool attire and catch a few last moments of Florida sunshine, and as fate would have it, I sat down next to Angie Bush, and her husband, Curt Bush. We discussed the military component of AHRA, the years of service both Angie and I had in different branches, and the volunteer avenues within AHRA. Connections!
Be that connection for someone, it can be life and career changing!
Brenda Heideman, BS, RT(R)(C)(M) is the director of radiology at Community Memorial Healthcare in Marysville, KS. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.