It’s All About Family

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By Ronda Sunnenberg

As I pulled into my small community hospital I took a deep breath to ready myself for the day ahead. As I entered the doors of the hospital, it was buzzing with people. I soon understood that there was a trauma in the emergency room.

As I made my way to the radiology department I realized that the patient lying in the bed was going to be someone I knew personally. As another technologist and I rushed to the trauma suite, we met the physician. He explained that a motor vehicle accident (MVA) had occurred and one of our co-workers and a family member were the patients. I took a long deep breath and began to care for them as I had with every other before them and would with every one after.

There is something noteworthy about the individuals I work with at my community hospital; whether that is in radiology, nursing, respiratory, or lab. We have become a family both figuratively and sometimes we are literally. The patients we serve are our neighbors, loved ones and friends. Living in a town of 2,000 our patients are people we care for on many levels.

It’s amazing how quickly our work day can change to something very different then what we expected. And so, every day I strive to learn something new about my profession so that I can do the best job I am capable of and keep my radiology department enthusiastic, compassionate, and knowledgeable. For our facility to have continued stability, we need to offer the care that goes above and beyond the norm. The healthcare system has entered a time where budgets are tight. We find ourselves having to decide where to cut back and need to think outside of the box more and more. One area that has been cut is staff education and networking.

A couple of years ago I received a flier from the AHRA about their Annual Meeting and Exposition. I started to research what AHRA was and what the Annual Meeting consisted of. It was motivating to see what our profession is doing and how we are educating one another to improve ourselves for our patients. I knew that this group could help me to be a better leader for my department and hospital. The next year I decided to become a member. I started using the forum along with other educational programs and services AHRA has to offer.

This year when I received the flier I noticed that the Annual Meeting was being held in Denver, Colorado. As a Kansas resident I knew that this may be my opportunity to attend. I researched the event and the expenses associated. I realized that this event wasn’t something that my budget would allow. Although the attending convention was a professional “bucket list” item, I understood it may not be something I could attend while working in a critical access facility.

Several weeks later I received an e-mail from the AHRA about the Osborn Scholarship. I decided to apply, although I assumed that I would not be chosen. In June I was delighted to be informed that I had received the scholarship to attend the Annual Meeting. I started reviewing all of the material I had received about the event and reviewed what I would be able to fit into my experience. I knew that I needed to make the most of the time I had at the conference.

The 2019 AHRA Annual Meeting “Rocking in the Rockies” was a mesmerizing event. I was able to meet imaging administrators from all parts of the country. We discussed what facilities are currently working on, struggles we have found, and plans for the future. The keynote speakers not only made an impact on radiology professionals but had an overall message to individuals. I was amazed at the knowledge of the speakers at the event and their ability to answer all of my questions. I could tell that at the AHRA convention I had become a part of not only a “network” but a “radiology family”. I look forward to continuing my professional journey with the AHRA and am so thankful for the opportunity that this scholarship has given me.

Note: Applications for the Spring Meeting Osborn Scholarship are now open; the application deadline is January 3, 2020. Click here to apply!

Ronda Sunnenberg is Director of Radiology at Nemaha Valley Community Hospital in Seneca, KS. She can be reached at

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