By Vaughn Eason
When I was notified that I had been selected as a 2021 Osborn scholarship recipient, I was both excited and grateful. This was my first time being able to attend a professional conference in my 22 years was a radiologic technologist, and I looked forward to the opportunity to learn about my career field as well as network with other radiology professionals. As a resident of Nashville, Tennessee, I was thrilled that this event was being held in my city because it would allow me to be close to work which was important because there was also a military training event being held here during the same time as the AHRA conference. Although I had received permission from my battalion’s commanding officer to attend the AHRA Spring Conference, I knew I needed to be on stand-by in case duty called.
As a first-time attendee and relatively new member of AHRA, I sought to get involved early. I volunteered to stuff tote bags so that I could meet AHRA staff and fellow attendees prior to the start of the conference. The warm greetings and introductions from other volunteers was only overshadowed by the welcoming attitude of staff during the hustle of setting up the exhibition area. This assured me that I was where I belonged.
From the start, the conference proved to be an inspiring and insightful event. When Lex Gillette came to the stage to deliver his keynote speech, I was blown away by how his lack of sight gave him so much vision. I couldn’t help but feel empowered to create a vision for my organization so that everyone feels like they can fly. The second keynote speaker, Devin Henderson, whose phenomenal magic tricks were just as inspirational as his message that “Something Greater is Always Possible”, which focused me on getting out of my own way in order to reach new heights. These speakers provided relevant, relatable content which resonated with me as a military leader and radiology professional. And it was clear that their messages sparked creative ways of addressing workplace issues in other attendees as well.
Aside from breakout sessions that focused on diversity, creativity, and leadership fundamentals, I particularly enjoyed meeting and talking with fellow radiology professionals. I was honored to finally meet people that I had connected with on LinkedIn, who had been instrumental in mentoring me over the past few years. Likewise, ‘bumping elbows’ with radiology directors and hospital chief executive officers provided me with insight to challenges and opportunities facing radiology leaders today. I honestly feel that a majority of learning and leadership tool exchange took place during networking events, small group gatherings in the hallways, and after-class discussions.
When I first arrived at the conference, I honestly thought that I would feel out-of-place as I was active duty military at a conference for civilian radiology professionals. I am glad to admit that I was wrong. I felt like I was right where I needed to be, with my peers and people who share in the desire to keep the radiology profession as the standard for excellence in healthcare. I left the conference feeling energized, eager to implement lessons learned, and ready for new heights in radiology management. I can’t wait to fellowship with my AHRA family again.
Vaughn C. Eason, DBA RT(R) CM, CRA is Command Senior Chief, US Navy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org