Medical Imaging Management

  • Article by: LAURA FRENCH , Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • Updated: April 2, 2009 - 12:39 PM

A manager in radiologic technology needs to stay current in a number of specific fields, from technology to privacy legislation, while keeping the hospital’s big picture in mind.

The organization formerly known as the American Healthcare Radiology Association is now identified as "The Association for Medical Imaging Management," although the acronym remains AHRA (www.ahraonline.org). That is a good example of both the changes and the challenges facing managers in radiologic technology.

The AHRA name change reflects the fact that there are now many medical imaging technologies - not just diagnostic x-rays and radiation therapy, but also ultrasound or sonography, CT (computerized tomographic) scans, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and more.

Team Lead To Manager

A path to a management career may begin as team lead in a single modality, according to Jim Egert, RT(R) (AART), director of Medical Imaging at Glencoe Regional Health Services (GRHS) and president of the Minnesota Society of Radiologic Technologists (MNSRT) Metro District (www.mnsrt.com).

From there, a larger hospital might have positions for managers in a single modality. In a small to medium-sized hospital, the manager's department might include more than one modality. Egert, who works for a 25-bed critical access hospital, oversees CT, x-ray and ultrasound and continues to work shifts as a technician. He welcomes the opportunity to "keep my skills sharp."

Moving from a technician or technologist role into management requires both experience and education. Egert says a bachelor's degree is a minimum. To be truly competitive, a manager needs a master's degree. "On the job training is wonderful, but you'll get edged out by someone with more education," he says.

The most drastic change impacting managers is the move to digital technology, Egert says. "My department is totally digital. If you'd asked me five years ago whether that would happen, I would have doubted it," he says. The manager needs to be able to make planning and purchasing decisions for picturing, archiving and communication systems (PACs) as well as trouble-shooting existing systems when problems occur.

The Big Picture

In addition, Egert says, "Policies and procedures are constantly evolving." The manager plays a role in determining the policies, communicating them to staff, and making sure they are followed. For example, while "how to shoot an ankle x-ray hasn't changed in 50 years," Egert says, Minnesota just made major changes in x-ray laws that determine who can take x-rays.

Dr. Jerry Reid, executive director of the American Registry of Radiologic Technology, says that managers "need to see the big picture and make decisions based on what's best for the enterprise, not for the department. The manager is looking three to seven years down the road." An understanding of the business side of the hospital or clinic is also important. Reid says some managers have earned MBAs, which enhances their competitive edge. AHRA offers excellent on-going educational opportunities that anyone aspiring to management should explore. "You'll advance more quickly than if you relied on on the job training," Reid says.

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