As an active child, Becky Allen was always in motion … until she wasn’t. She had a fair share of sudden stops that resulted in injuries requiring X-rays. Her childhood experiences with diagnostic imaging planted a seed that blossomed into a career.
Rebecca “Becky” Allen, MS, CRA, R.T.(R), is currently the enterprise director of radiology at UC (University of Cincinnati) Health where she is responsible for the primary leadership role for all radiology services in collaboration with the chair of the department of radiology/chief of imaging for UC Health and the endoscopy department at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
When asked how she ended up in her career field she reflects on that active childhood.
“It is kind of funny. As a child, I played lots of sports and had lots of X-rays taken. It really started in middle school for me,” Allen recalls. “From the time I was a junior in high school I knew I was going to go to X-ray school. It was when I was doing X-rays and CT scans I started asking ‘How can I help others?’ and that is how I got into the management side of it.”
While her high school classmates were still trying to figure out what they wanted to be when they grew up, Allen was deciding which scholarship to accept.
She turned down a basketball scholarship at Morehead State University when the coach who had been recruiting her was replaced and instead accepted an academic scholarship.
Upon graduation, her career began as a radiologic technologist at St. Luke Hospital West in Florence, Kentucky followed by a stint as a member of the radiology faculty at Northern Kentucky University. Fast forward to 2020 and her employment history reflects her career growth. She has served several roles along the way including clinical coordinator, director of diagnostic and oncology services and divisional director of radiology, interim assistant vice president of operations and more.
Each job title came with specific responsibilities that empowered Allen as she grew into the imaging leader she is today. She had success and her fair share of mistakes along the way. The support of a strong team and a dedicated mentor helped her navigate the ups and downs.
“My two biggest accomplishments have been when I won the GE Award for Excellence through the AHRA in 2004 that was submitted by the staff and the second one is when people that have worked under my supervision go on to a bigger job, that is the most rewarding,” Allen recalls. “That gives me a feeling of great accomplishment because I know I have helped set them up to succeed.”
Prior to the success, Allen was fortunate to have a leader who believed in her. He allowed her to make mistakes, learn from those mistakes and become a leader in her own right.
“I had a fantastic mentor when I first started my management career in Andy Riddell. He was the COO at the time. How he mentored me is that he invested in me. He allowed me to grow and make mistakes and learn from them in the best way possible,” Allen says. “I can’t imagine not having him when I first started my career. I worked directly with him for six years. He was also a leadership coach, which probably helped. Just knowing the amount of time he invested in me, I knew he cared and wanted me to be successful. He was the best.”
Her success could also be due to the fact that she loves her job because she is able to work with talented individuals who perform miracles.
One example that stands out in her memory is when she witnessed the interventional radiology team treat a woman who had just come in with a stroke.
“I just witnessed technologists, nurses and physicians save lives,” Allen says. “My job is to knock down barriers so they can actually improve the lives of patients. I truly know I have one of the best jobs in the world and I am pretty blessed for it.”
She sees the work she does as being behind the scenes. She does not desire the spotlight and strives to be a servant leader to help others be the best they can be on a daily basis.
“Honesty, passion and empathy,” are the words Allen uses to describe her leadership style.
“I try to do servant leadership. Removing barriers and get to know people and get to know something personal about them. You really want to form that bond with everyone. It is truly a practice and I try to practice it,” Allen explains.
She challenges her radiology department to find and share ways to improve the overall operation.
“Let’s upend everything and change the way we do everything. We have upended our organizational charts and we (leadership) are just in support down at the bottom. The people who are hands-on are actually leading the department. I try to encourage my technologists and leaders to go break something and see if you can make it better,” Allen says.
“Radiology is a special field. A lot of people get into it for the technology. It is a lot about technology and physics and all of that, but it is also about caring. You have to have a caring heart and empathy and understanding,” Allen adds. “I think it takes a special person to want to do this.”
Allen and her wife, Robin, qualify as special people. They have twin teenage daughters, Katie and Kasey, who keep them busy and have since their early arrival 13 years ago.
“They were born at 27 weeks and at a year old they only weighed 12 pounds,” Allen recalls.
Allen’s servant leadership approach is no doubt serving her well at work and at home.