By Danielle Henrickson, MBA, BSRT(R), CRA
Upon being hired into management, after a 10-year career working the front lines, I felt like a fish out of water. Though my director and co-managers were all great and welcoming, I always knew I was the “new one” and the “weaker link.” These were, of course, titles I had concocted in my own mind as nobody expected me to know management yet. But I felt like a student all over again. I was once the “go-to” person with answers for my co-workers. I now was going to everyone else for answers to my many questions. I felt like I was a burden to some.
Luckily, part of the expectation with my new role was to become an AHRA member. I didn’t really know what it was. The acronym didn’t really make much sense to me, but the tagline caught my eye: “the association for medical imaging management.” That is definitely what I needed. I dove into the website and all of the resources with both feet. With so much information at my fingertips, I could be the person that had an answer instead of the person constantly asking the questions. I read through the discussion forums and found various articles that pertained to issues I was dealing with.
I was offered the chance to attend an AHRA Annual Meeting in 2014 at the Gaylord in National Harbor, Maryland. I met incredible people who were in my same situation, just soaking in all of the knowledge and education that they could. Thanks to my director, I had signed up for the CRA workshop at the conference. I didn’t really know what to expect. The amount of learning and preparation that occurred in one ten-hour day was incredible. I got to learn from some great leaders in our field. Kenneth Fazzino, BA, CRA, RT(R), PMP, FAHRA shared his knowledge on operations management and William Johnson, CRA, FAHRA, MBA offered insight on HR management.
Sheila Sferrella, MAS, RT(R), CRA, FAHRA was one instructor that really stuck out to me as she shared information on asset resource and financial management. She asked during the class how many years of experience each participant had. I was the person with the least amount of managerial experience in the room. She said, “You may have some trouble passing the CRA exam right away. A lot of this is something you learn with experience.” I know her intentions were to help me be prepared and help me understand what I was getting into, but I took it as challenge. So here I was, my first year in management, bound and determined to prove this lady wrong!! Big thanks to Sheila for the push.
I borrowed some books from a fellow AHRA conference attendee who happened to live only a few hours from me. I bought a few of the books myself and began taking more practice tests than I ever thought possible. That May, I sat for the boards and thank goodness, PASSED! While I was proud of the accomplishment, it didn’t suddenly mean I had all of the answers.
I still found myself reaching out on forums or reading through articles to learn about various topics that would arise. As we all know, the ever changing healthcare environment means that learning is a lifelong process. The new regulations and the different ways to practice mixed with new technologies and discoveries are a formula for disaster if you don’t keep up to date on changes. AHRA offers you a way to keep up to date and stay connected.
Since my first AHRA annual conference, I have been lucky enough to attend the annual conferences in Las Vegas, Nevada (2015), Anaheim, California (2017) and Denver, Colorado (2019). Missing a couple years in there to start a family and maintain some work-life balance. Each year, I learn more and meet more great people. The Exhibit Hall at the Annual Meeting is also a great place to see new technologies up close and personal, but not in such a huge venue as RSNA.
I have had the privilege of working with the Member Recognition Committee and then being the chair of that committee for two years. It is such an honor to help select recipients for various awards and scholarships. Also, we got to review the Fellow applicants. To see the amazing careers some of the Fellows have is a great inspiration for any leader in the imaging world.
I am now part of the Membership Committee to help all members find value in AHRA. AHRA has played a major role in my career so far and I don’t see it ending any time soon. I want all imaging leaders to know that these resources are available.
I am tasking you, the readers, to really dive into your membership benefits and get the most out of it! Follow AHRA on Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In. Utilize the resources like the White Paper Library, online forums, Radiology Management, and Link. Attend local area meetings and annual conferences. If your organization can’t send you and you can’t afford it alone, apply for one of the many scholarships that are offered. AHRA will work for you if you take the time to get to know what it has to offer.
Danielle Henricksen, MBA, BSRT(R), CRA is the Radiology Manager at Bryan Medical Center in Lincoln, NE. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.