Brenda Debastiani

Imaging department managers gear up for an exciting AHRA meeting

June 26, 2023
by Gus Iversen, Editor in Chief
The Association for Medical Imaging Management (AHRA) will be having its annual meeting in Indianapolis over July 9-12. HealthCare Business News spoke with AHRA president Brenda Debastiani, about what the meeting will have in store for attendees and about her own professional background.

HCB News: Who or what inspired you to follow a career in healthcare?
Brenda Debastiani: My dad always told me that he wanted me to be a physician. While I wanted to help others, I knew that I did not want to go to college for 12 years to become a physician. So, I began looking at all of my options when I was in high school. I evaluated physical therapy, medical technology, respiratory therapy, and Radiology. When I went to WVU Hospitals to interview and job shadow for the radiologic technology training program, I fell in love with radiology. While I was able to care for people, I actually had a hand in diagnosing them too. Here I am 37 years later, and I am still in love with radiology!

HCB News: How did you first become involved with the AHRA?
BD: I moved into a supervisory role in 2001, and my mentors (Sue DeVincent and Peggy Pust) were both very active in AHRA. They both took (and passed) the inaugural CRA exam in 2002. I watched and learned. I quickly followed in their footsteps, becoming involved with the AHRA in 2004, taking (and passing) my CRA exam in 2007, and volunteering with the AHRA how ever I could.

HCB News: What was that journey like, from joining AHRA to becoming president?
BD: I began attending annual meetings as a supervisor, and I learned so much. I actually attribute my leadership success to the AHRA. The educational sessions that I attended and the mentorship opportunities that I experienced helped me grow into the director that I am today. I first volunteered at annual meetings by scanning people in/out of sessions to get their CE's. I was very active on the AHRA forum, a place where imaging leaders can ask questions, or give answers, to help others in our field. (It's great not to have to reinvent the wheel, as someone else out there in the AHRA has usually already gone through whatever it is that an imaging leader is going through. If a question is posted, there is usually a response in about 5 minutes. At first, I was asking the questions; and before long, I was answering some questions.) I also helped edit AHRA textbooks when the call was put out on the AHRA website.

I volunteered on the "web development committee", and then became chair of that committee 2006-2010. Bill Algee called me to ask me if I would be on the Design Team (2010-2012), and that was an amazing experience! I really pushed myself to step out of my comfort zone while on the design team, overcoming being "shy" in crowds. I began giving presentations at the annual meetings, just to "give back" to an organization that had given so much to me. I was elected to the RACC (commission that oversees the CRA exam), and served a 3 year term. After that, I was elected to the AHRA Board of Directors. I served a 3 year term and then elected as President-Elect. Along the road, I have worked with several amazing leaders and have made life-long friends. Again, the AHRA has helped me grow as a leader and has given me so many growth opportunities over the years. I am honored and humbled to be able to serve the AHRA members as President.

HCB News: What are some of the biggest initiatives that you have championed at the AHRA?
BD: In 2022 the AHRA BOD began identifying and implementing a 5 year strategic plan with a 10 year vision. That plan includes developing a mentorship program that is underway, working collaboratively with other organizations, and better meeting the members' needs where the members are. It has been an exciting year at the AHRA, and I have full confidence that the BOD will continue implementing the identified strategies through to completion.

HCB News: For imaging stakeholders who may not be familiar, why should they consider joining the AHRA?
BD: The AHRA is the organization for imaging leaders. There is no other organization out there like the AHRA. The educational opportunities are great, and the networking opportunities are limitless in the AHRA! The AHRA forum, annual meetings, spring meetings, local area meetings, webinars, and volunteer opportunities will help an imaging leader grow exponentially. Until an imaging leader gets involved with the AHRA, that individual will not truly understand the impact that our organization can have to make the leader stronger, more effective, and energized to become an even better leader! I met an imaging leader on the AHRA forum many years ago since it seems as though we worked in "twin hospitals". Either he was asking a question that I could immediately answer because I had just gone through it, or vice versa. We eventually stopped putting our questions on the forum and just picked up the phone and called each other to get immediate answers. It was uncanny how similar our hospitals are, which led to a friendship. Through the AHRA, our families have met each other, and become friends, as well. The AHRA allows imaging leaders to develop connections with other leaders, and not have to recreate the wheel every time a problem is identified. There is no "competitive" feelings, as we all want each other to "succeed", which makes our patients "succeed". There are thousands of imaging leaders available to assist, and that is an amazing feeling. You are "never alone" when you are an AHRA member, since you have a huge imaging family out there, always willing and ready to help.

HCB News: Can you tell us more about what attendees can expect at the annual AHRA meeting in Indianapolis?
BD: The Annual Meeting in Indy is jam packed full of educational sessions (CE's that are ARRT approved), as well as directed to meet CRA CE requirements. We are celebrating our 50th birthday this year in Indy, so there are many things planned to play homage to our past, appreciate our now, and look forward to our future. There are multiple networking opportunities available all week long, starting with the President's reception on Sunday evening. (You don't want to miss it! There is even a birthday cake. Happy Birthday, AHRA!) The annual meeting will end on Wednesday night with a gala (watch for the red carpet and paparazzi!)

If you are a brand new leader, the aspiring leader track is perfect for you, as it teaches all essential management skills in imaging services.

If you are an experienced leader, then the established leader track is perfect for you. These educational sessions will provide best practices, real-time intelligence and trends on the current and future state of imaging.

If you are planning on taking your CRA exam in the near future, we offer the CRA exam workshop on Sunday, July 5. This will help the imaging leader identify which areas they may need study more prior to taking the CRA exam.

We are offering a unique workshop on how to manage negative/disagreeable employees on Sunday morning (limited spaces). This course will surely prepare the imaging leader to face the tough environment that imaging leaders are navigating.

The Leaders of Choice Program begins at our annual meeting, and then courses continue over the next 12 months, concluding at our 2024 AHRA Annual meeting. With a combination of interactive discussions, monthly webinar presentations, one-on-one coaching and mentoring, and a capstone project customized to each person's challenges and work setting, this program will position the leader to broaden leadership roles in their current environment, or perhaps in the next career opportunity.

HCB News: Are there any sessions or presentations that you're particularly excited about?
BD: I am very excited for our keynote speakers this year! Craig Karges is the keynote speaker on Monday, and he combines the art of magic with the science of psychology and the power of intuition to create the impression that nothing is impossible.

On Tuesday, Shasta Nelson is our keynote speaker. She will help us identify how connected we feel in our industry, in our work, in our personal lives, which all tie into our physical and mental health, our happiness, and our success. The more each of us feels like we belong here (and you do!), the more we can innovate, learn, collaborate, and network in meaningful ways.

On Wednesday, Erin Stafford will help us escape burnout. She will talk about the pandemic, the great resignation, and how to shift our mindset to increase creativity, become more energized, and simply make ourselves happier and more fulfilled in everything that we do.

I am looking forward to being re-energized and reeducated! The guest speakers selected for both the established leader and aspiring leaders will also do a great job, no doubt!

The AHRA annual meetings are my super-bowls. I always return to work with new ideas and a new "lease on life" that carries me through the next several months, as a leader! The past few years have been tougher than usual for imaging leaders, so I'm looking forward to learning best practices to rejuvenate myself and my team. I always take lots of notes and then share what I learn with other leaders in my organization!

8) What are some of the hot topics you expect attendees to be talking about at this year's meeting?
I anticipate attendees will be asking about AI (Artificial Intelligence), remote scanning (CT and MRI), coding/billing updates, how to de-stress, generational leadership (millennials, Gen Z, etc.), Employee retention, imposter syndrome, staffing shortages, etc. All of these topics, and more, will be covered at our annual meeting, and I cannot wait to hear what the guest speakers have to say! In addition, I hear that there is going to be a "Ted Talk", given by AHRA past presidents to share AHRA's history leading up to current times. I am sure that this will be very informative!

As you can tell, I am very excited about the line-up we have for our annual meeting. The Design Team worked very hard to anticipate what members will be asking about and to select industry experts to share best practices. I thank them for their hard work. Also, the AHRA staff and Conference Managers did a great job this year, as usual, to make sure that every detail is covered and every need is met. The AHRA BOD and myself want to extend our gratitude for a job well done to prepare us for this 50th birthday celebration!