Practical Applications from the AHRA Virtual Fall Conference

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By Michelle L Witthun RT(R)(M)

Through the Ed Yoder Memorial Scholarship, I recently was able to attend the 2018 AHRA Virtual Fall Conference. This was my first time attending an AHRA conference and I wish to extend my sincerest thanks to the AHRA Education Foundation for this opportunity.

I took my first job, 28 years ago, at a 250 bed hospital in Madison Wisconsin fresh out of school and eager to learn and grow. I worked side by side with a seasoned technologist who loved his job, loved his patients, and taught me all about emergency, surgical and inpatient radiography.  To this day I can still tell you what technique should be set for each image being acquired. Eight years later, needing some day shift hours to balance work and family, I was very fortunate to be offered a position in a rural healthcare setting.  I spent the next 19 years learning, growing, and jumping at every opportunity to expand my knowledge taking full advantage of all rural healthcare has to offer;  especially the cross training opportunities. I wrote my mammography boards, took the role of lead MQSA mammographer, student clinical coordinator and in time, also accepted a position as PACS administrator (certainly an invigorating challenge since I learned to type on an electric typewriter).  I say “also” because on any given day I switched between these roles as the need arose. This set the groundwork to expand and share my knowledge, mentor my own team, and recently (May 2017) find a position as a medical imaging manager in a rural healthcare setting.

The Virtual Fall Conference was great way for me to learn and grow as an imaging leader from my own office. Getting away for conferences can be difficult especially in the smaller departments, so having this flexibility is a great opportunity offered by AHRA. Being a new manager I really enjoyed many of the sessions offered such as Kitty McKay’s keynote, “Nemawashi: Lessons from Japan for Dissolving Resistance and Achieving Lasting Improvement,” along with “Managing Difficult People,” by David Waldron, and Ron Jones’ offering, “Leadership Standard Work for Imaging Leaders – Adaptability is the New Efficiency.” Each of these sessions offered unique ways, ideas, and tried and true practices to “lead” not manage your team. Mr. Waldron’s session suggested the notion, the only difference between a good day and a bad day is your attitude. This really made me stop and think: How do I start each day with my team?  I round each morning with my team, but do I always do it with a “good day attitude”? This session has inspired me to take a moment to reflect on this statement each day to assure my attitude is a good day attitude. The organizational and workflow ideas from Ron Jones’ session will help me bring my team together to complete the daily, weekly, and monthly workloads that are not patient specific. As the new year begins I look forward to applying the art of Nemawashi (preparing the ground so roots take hold and change flourishes) because in today’s world of rapidly changing technology, radiology teams need a good foundation of leadership to build and move forward with the changes.

Working in a small institution, face to face collaboration with other imaging managers isn’t possible on a daily basis; the AHRA has given me a community, helping with that loss of one-on-one interaction. I begin each day, prior to my team arriving, by reading the forum posts in AHRA’s online community, Connect. This is my daily huddle with other imaging leaders; I have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge from the daily posts. I joined AHRA six months after beginning my leadership role; this membership has encouraged, brought clarity, and strengthened my leadership skills in many ways. I look forward to exploring all AHRA has to offer including future conferences. Thank You AHRA!

Michelle L Witthun RT(R)(M) is the Medical Imaging Manager at Columbus Community Hospital, WI. She can be reached at MWITTHUN@CCH-INC.COM

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