AHRA 2014 Keynote Highlights: Lessons for Your Radiology Department from a Fighter Pilot

August 14, 2014
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Radiology’s “top guns” are being tested and success in the changing healthcare environment is dependent on your commitment to yourself, the mission and your team.  This was the message from AHRA 2014 keynote speaker Lieutenant Colonel Rob “Waldo” Waldman, a decorated fighter pilot and the author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, Never Fly Solo.

Radiology’s “top guns” are being tested and success in the changing healthcare environment is dependent on your commitment to yourself, the mission and your team.  This was the message from AHRA 2014 keynote speaker Lieutenant Colonel Rob “Waldo” Waldman, a decorated fighter pilot and the author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, Never Fly Solo.

Think the experience of radiology administrators and fighter pilots are worlds apart? Not so, says Waldman.  The fear he felt on his 65 combat missions – sometimes dodging missiles – is the same stress radiology directors feel as they are tasked to deliver excellence in patient care while facing obstacles like declining reimbursement, dose regulations, the ICD-10 roll out, patient satisfaction improvements and staffing challenges.

AHRA 2014 Day 1 Keynote Speaker Lieutenant Colonel Rob “Waldo” Waldman.

AHRA 2014 Day 1 Keynote Speaker Lieutenant Colonel Rob “Waldo” Waldman.

The training fighter pilots receive to be mission-ready can be applied by radiology department leadership to adapt to change and push performance to the next level.

Waldman urged AHRA attendees to:

  • Convert fear into focus – Commit. Commit. Commit. Place trust in yourself and your team. Identify your target and never fly solo. You can’t overcome obstacles without your wingman – be confident in their skills and training, establish clear objectives, roles and responsibilities, ensure you have the technology you need to succeed and develop contingency plans to ensure you don’t lose focus.
  • Lift Others – Your department team needs to know they can depend on you. You must think outside your cockpit. Foster trust through communication and connection that makes it clear you will not let them fail and will get them to the target. Always “Check 6” or look behind to ensure your wingmen are still with you.  Look for opportunities to recognize the unsung heroes in your service line – like those who ensure your mission critical equipment is maintained.
  • Recalibrate your attitude – Your wingmen are watching and see if you are pulling back.  Be confident that your mission is achievable.  Be willing to take risks and set a team culture for success.
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Waldman’s motto “Push it Up” –  a reminder to overcome your fear and fight the urge to pull back on the throttle in tough times – gave AHRA attendees an inspired rallying cry for their hospital and departmental missions.

Radiology administrators, how do you plan to “Push It Up” in your department?