Celebrating Excellence


WCokerBy Wanda Coker, CRA, BHS

March 2013—I have to admit that the greatest honor and highlight of my career was last year when I received the distinguished AHRA Award for Excellence.  I get emotional – and sometimes even kind of teary eyed – when someone comes in my office, sees the plaque, and asks me about it.  The Award for Excellence is a prestigious award given annually, and according to the definition by AHRA, is awarded to a person “who has made a difference through innovation, leadership, administrative capabilities and sharing of expertise and experiences.”  I was very surprised and humbled, to say the least, when I received the call from Luann Culbreth, past-president of AHRA, telling me that I had been selected for this award. The award has been given to five people annually since 1995. To say that I am one of those people and to be in that distinct group with some that I do not know, but many of whom I have met and have utmost respect and admiration for, is almost beyond words.

One of the ironic things ( though maybe it is not so ironic) is that when looking over the list of people who had received this award in the past, I discovered that the department head and instructor of the radiology technology program that I attended and graduated from was also a recipient.  Yes, of course I am telling my age now, but he was one of the first five to receive this award.  I still have the book that he wrote on professionalism and ethics that we used as students. I can remember that he expected a lot from his students and instilled professionalism in them. He wanted us to be the best that we could be professionally and he did not expect any less from us.

The nominations for this award are submitted by peers, colleagues, coworkers, and they can even come from your staff.  I believe that this is the most humbling part of this award.  These are the people that you interact with on a daily basis. Unless you have received feedback or been involved in a 360 or peer-to-peer reviews, you do not always know their true feelings.  How you perceive yourself as a leader is one thing, but how others perceive you is another.  This award is one for excellence and leadership in the profession of radiology. Acquiring just some of these qualities is a daily process, as well as a lifelong learning one. It is an ongoing commitment to develop, improve, and enhance these skills.  It is also a personal responsibility to yourself, your employees, and the organization that you work for.

The AHRA is a great professional organization from which members can gain insights from others experiences. It is a catalyst for me, and I am sure for many others, for the development of professional leadership skills.  In this time, when most of the feedback one receives can be negative, it was very humbling to receive positive feedback and validation that someone could see some of these qualities in me. The nominations that were submitted on my behalf provided me with positive feedback that inspired and motivated me to excel even more.

I display this plaque with dignity and pride.  It reminds me that it was my peers, coworkers, and/or staff that nominated me for this award.  I hope that I will always continue to strive on a daily basis to make a difference in this profession, in the healthcare field, in the lives of those around me, and in the patients we serve. It inspires and reminds me on a daily basis, just as my instructor did years ago, to strive to do my best and nothing less.

Nominations for the AHRA Award for Excellence are due March 18, 2013. You can nominate someone online at ahraonline.org.


Wanda Coker CRA, BHS is the radiology director at Shriners Hospital for Children in Greenville, SC. She can be reached at wcoker@shrinenet.org

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