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Q&A with AHRA President: Brenda DeBastiani

Brenda DeBastiani, MBA, CRA, FAHRA, RT(R), is experiencing a lot of change in her life. The longtime AHRA member began her tenure as president of the organization in July.

She and her husband also recently moved to Florida where she is now the director of imaging at Bravera Health Spring Hill.

ICE magazine caught up with her recently and asked her some questions regarding her new post as AHRA president.

Q: How long have you worked in the imaging field?

A: I have been working in the imaging field for 36 years. I started as a radiologic technologist, cross-trained into CT, was promoted to supervisor in 2001, and then promoted to director in 2013.

Q: What are some of the biggest changes/advancements in imaging during your career?

A: I have watched imaging move from “analog” to “digital.” That “technology change” away from film improved techs’ efficiencies tremendously. 

Q: What are the top challenges you and other imaging directors/leaders face now and in the near future?

A: Staffing continues to be the biggest challenge for many imaging leaders. Leaders are struggling to identify how to keep positive morale and how to properly address technologists’ needs.

Q: How long have you been an AHRA member and why?

A: I have been an AHRA member since 2004. Since I “worked up through the ranks,” my leadership training actually came from AHRA. I learned from “the best of the best,” which are AHRA leaders whom I have met over the years. The AHRA forum has been a huge help to me, as I can ask a question and get almost immediate answers from across the country. I personally have grown as a person and as a leader because of the volunteer opportunities within the AHRA. I have pushed myself outside of my comfort zone all just to “give back” to other AHRA members.
Q: Where do you see the future of imaging in 5 years? 10 years?

A: I believe that we will continue seeing staffing struggles in the next 5-10 years, as there will be more patients requiring care and less health care providers available. I also believe that there will be a challenge finding imaging leaders in the next 5-10 years. Many current employees want better work-life balance. They want to work their set hours and go home to be with their loved ones. This means that we are going to have to re-think how health care leaders are expected to do their jobs and allow greater flexibility in order to draw people into leadership careers. There are several opportunities for us to learn from our employees!

Q: What are some key objectives you want to achieve during your tenure as AHRA president?

A: We just completed our AHRA member survey, and that data is being evaluated. The qualitative data gained from the in-person focus groups at the 2022 AHRA Annual Meeting in Phoenix (to wrap up our AHRA member survey) was instrumental in helping us with our on-site strategic planning meeting (held on Thursday after the annual meeting). The AHRA strategic planning task force has been meeting to develop our new mission and vision, as well as the strategies that we are going to use to move us forward for the next 5-plus years. Representation from the AHRA Board of Directors, AHRA staff and AHRA members were all included on the strategic planning task force to have comprehensive representation. We have one final meeting coming up next week to nail down the final version of our strategic plan. 

 Based on feedback from our members, the radiology management journal is very important; so, we need to focus on including robust education to meet their needs.  

We know that we need to meet our members “where they are” to provide what they need.  That will be a focus this year, as health care is constantly changing, and the AHRA needs to respond appropriately.

The textbook task force has been working hard to revise two of our oldest textbooks. Those books will be available soon.  

AHRA members need to help encourage other imaging providers move into leadership roles. We are telling our own personal stories without ever saying a word. Our technologists are watching our every move. Our current leaders need to share positive stories and help others to want to actually become imaging leaders.

Imaging leaders need to take better care of themselves to be the best that they can be.  Imaging leaders cannot help others if their “cups are empty,” so we all need to learn how to take great care of ourselves so that we can better take care of others. Resiliency is key for leadership survival and success.

Q: Is there anything else you want to add?

A: I just relocated from West Virginia to Florida on Friday. After 33 years at the same facility, I decided it was time to go. It is time for me to reinvent myself. (It just so happens that it is in the Sunshine State.) While I was nervous and sad about leaving my home and my family, I am very excited to meet new people, learn from different cultures and begin this new adventure in a new hospital. I have always said that I am a life-long learner, and here I am opening myself up to learn from my new employees and new employer. •

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