By Stacy Lewis, RT(R)(M)(CT), BSHCM, MSML
The year 2020 will be remembered for several things, most notably COVID-19 and the disruption that it caused the entire nation. Like so many other organizations, the AHRA had a difficult decision to make in regards to whether or not to hold the annual conference in Boston, as planned in early July. Ultimately, with the thoughts of everyone’s health in mind, the organizers made the difficult decision to cancel the in-person conference and move to a virtual platform.
I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t overly thrilled with this decision. With every decision being made this year, I try to remember that those making the decisions are ultimately doing what they feel is the best decision for the majority of people, with our health and safety at the forefront of their minds. I had been looking forward to visiting Boston, a place that I most likely would never get to visit otherwise. Regardless, I was blessed to be a recipient of the Osborn Scholarship for the virtual conference and I was determined that I would make the best lemonade out of the lemons given to me.
Managing the Manager started off my virtual conference experience. As with all of the sessions that I viewed, this one did not disappoint. The session in particular forced me to review my specific leadership style and acknowledge things that I was doing well as a leader, as well as the specific areas I needed to focus on for improvement. A few hours later, Yassmin Abdel-Magied opened my eyes to biases that I didn’t even realize I had. And while some of these biases are completely innocent, such as men filtering what they say in the presence of a female, others can have a more lasting and detrimental impact to not only others, but eventually yourself. Your biases have a tendency to blind you. If you never open your eyes to these biases, and continue to have them, imagine all of the things that you may miss out on. For example, maybe you believe that women are more nurturing than men and therefore can provide better patient care. This bias could lead to subconsciously only hiring women in your department, which opens up another can of worms in regards to equal opportunity employment, and in turn, missing out on adding wonderful male technologists and nurses to your department.
Day one left me excited and wanting more, and let me tell you that day two did not disappoint. “This is Me”- How Leading from Identity Changes Everything by Josh Block has truly inspired me to become a better leader. Not only did it introduce me to The Greatest Showman, I know I’m about 3 years late on that one, but it helped me to embrace where I am right now in this season of life while also striving to become a better leader. There’s also an inspiring video within the presentation that demonstrates how you, your enthusiasm and your attitude can literally change the atmosphere of an entire room! If this doesn’t make you want to be a better leader and a beacon of joy for your employees, I don’t know what will.
Day 3 rolled around and it was bittersweet. Even though I was attending the conference and attempting to get work done at the same time, I was sad that the conference was coming to a conclusion. The closing keynote session was inspiring and provided insight as to how perception changes everything. If I can flip my mindset of the stressful situation to a stretching situation and see how whatever is “stressing me out” is really just stretching me to become a better leader, friend, mother, etc., I can flip the negative into a positive and better deal with the situation at hand. It provided insight into the three most common categories that stress fall under and gave examples of how to deal with each of these to lighten the stress load.
The AHRA Virtual Conference exceeded all of my expectations. The virtual platform was easy to navigate and allowed me to ask questions and participate in a way that I would have never done had we been in person. What started out as an obligation ending up being an experience that I will never forget.
Stacy Lewis RT(R)(M)(CT), BSHCM, MSML is the Assistant Director of Radiology at Iredell Health System in North Carolina. She can be reached at Stacy.firstname.lastname@example.org