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By Chet Szerlag, MBA, FACHE, CMPE Mentoring, in my opinion, is an overused term because I think we do it without putting the “mentoring” label on it. Mentoring is not like a shoebox with stuff in it that you pull out when you need it. It’s more aptly called relationship building, and it’s a core skill you should develop to use personally and professionally. Looking back through your career development experiences, you can examine your own relationship-building processes (or perhaps the lack thereof!). Reflecting back even further to high school or college, you can likely identify at least one favorite teacher you felt you could talk to or who gave you ...
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By Giles Toole A few years ago I found myself downsized. My initial thought was, “What am I going to do at age 59 with no job opportunities?” I had been in my job for 24 years. I found myself in a situation I never expected. Since I wanted, and needed, to keep working, I took action right away. I updated my résumé and began my job search. I knew relocation wasn’t an option. I was approached about a position with the Florida Department of Health’s Department of Radiation Control, which I accepted. I would have happily stayed with the state, but I also wanted to see what other positions were available. State positions don’t pay as well as private industry. ...
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Miffed About MIPS

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In July 2019, our institution received our 2018 MIPS Feedback Report from CMS.  We had worked very hard throughout 2018 to achieve a score of 100 points. We worked with a consultant who assisted with our submission. We spent countless person hours reviewing data from Aria’s Quality dashboard as well as manual data pulled for measures that didn’t flow into the quality dashboard. We worked with our IT team to pull data from various clinical practice sites with different versions of Aria, none of which were on the same server. We met with our clinical care team for repeated trainings on how and where to put data: which box should be checked and when. We even ...
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In this Q&A, Jana Grienke, clinical department administrator, Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, shared her experience with using ASTRO’s RO-ILS for incident reporting. Q: Why did your department decide to use RO-ILS?   A: Our department decided to use RO-ILS to collect patient safety data regarding error rates and error pathways in radiation oncology. We were searching for a mechanism to be able to track these “incidents” to implement improvements based on these events. Q: How do you use RO-ILS, and what benefits have you seen? A: We use a generic login so that anyone can report an incident. Our ...
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This is a summary of the workshop given by Sansannah Johnson from the University of Washington and Sharda Kohli from the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Leadership is evolving: you grow in different directions as you gain experience. To improve your leadership skills you can: Identify personal leadership strengths Seek leadership training opportunities Develop a leadership plan Learn from others. You can identify core skills using tools such as CliftonStrengths and DiSC Profiles. Managers should establish a leadership philosophy. They can audit their time management practices (e.g., Stephen Covey’s 4 quadrants of time management ...
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This is a summary of the workshop given by Beverly Cusano and Kacey Morgan from the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute. Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand the basic health information needed to assist them in making decisions regarding their health. Education, living in poverty, age, race/ethnicity and disability impact health literacy. Signs of low health literacy, frequently missed appointments, noncompliance with medications, incomplete registration forms, lack of follow through on appointments, etc. Low health literacy is everyone’s problem. The nurse’s role is ...
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This is a summary of the general presentation given by Joan Brett, associate professor of Management & Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business. Resistance to change is considered the biggest obstacle. To get people to rally around change, you need to: Give up leadership behaviors that worked in the past. Engage your workforce in the organizational change process. Learn the leadership behaviors that foster adaptive change. Do some self-reflection. Are you an obstacle to change? What about you is getting in the way of implementing change? Consider: What is expected  from me? What  behaviors  are ...
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This is a summary of the workshop presentation given by M.J. Clark, senior leadership consultant and executive coach with Integrated Leadership Systems. Effective Listening Skills Listening is a great way to deflate conflict. People feel heard. You can listen better by: Having good eye contact. Lean in slightly. Nod your head (if you agree). Giving responses to help the person feel understood. “Mmm, hmm,” “Yes.” Rephrasing what they are saying. Not thinking about or focusing on what to say next. (listen = silent) (silencing your mind) Perhaps, mirroring their emotions. “That sounds so frustrating.” Asking questions. Observing their non-verbals. ...
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This blog is a summary of the keynote presentation by Kim Lear, generational expert and founder of Inlay Insights.   Our formative years (our teenage years), the years when our brains are developing are the most impactful in defining us. We need to understand the cultural shifts that take place and the shared story we have. Baby Boomers There were 80 million baby boomers, the biggest group in history. The American infrastructure was not prepared for this population boom (not enough jobs), so if you weren’t willing to stay late, someone else would take your job. Ten thousand Baby Boomers turn 65 every day. It can be a time of emotional upheaval: “If ...
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#SROA19 is taking place in Chicago in just under two weeks. Radiation oncology administrators from across the country will converge at the Hilton Chicago, September 15–18 for the Society’s 36 th  Annual Meeting . This year's theme is "The Power of Connection." For longtime conference goers, attendance may be second nature. It’s something they do annually. For newbies, it’s an opportunity to meet other administrators and learn skills and information they can apply in their day-to-day work and share with employees. In “Why do people attend conferences? 5 key reasons for attendees and event organizers,” the authors identify five benefits of attending: ...
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I’m writing this on a Monday. Online every Monday the hashtags #MotivationMonday and #MondayMotivation accompany memes with famous quotations designed to encourage and inspire us as we begin a new work week. Why do so many people find Mondays so hard? Are weekends always that good? Many times I’ve written down or tried to remember inspirational quotations that resonate with me. I’ve saved several inspirational memes posted by friends on Facebook. I’ll admit I haven’t gone back to look at them, but I know where to find them. Recently I caught the tail end of a news story that featured a woman––I’m not sure who and my online news search came up empty—giving ...
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How To Be Heard

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There’s a wonderful feeling that comes when someone has genuinely heard what we say. We feel acknowledged and understood. Quite the opposite occurs when we feel we’re neither heard nor understood. We feel isolated and adrift. In “We Can All Be Better Listeners,” I wrote about how we can sharpen our listening skills to be more engaged and attuned to others. On the flipside, we also have to make sure we’re being heard and our needs are being met. It’s a complicated dance but not unachievable. In the workplace, as in life, there are differing perspectives and competing priorities. And sometimes our voice can get lost in the shuffle. In her article, “Speak ...
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I was once told there are two kinds of people in the world: those who are listening and those who are waiting to talk. Stephen Covey said the same thing, though more eloquently: “ Most of us don't listen with the intent to understand. We listen with the intent to reply .” Too many of us fall into the category of “waiting to talk,” when what we really need is to practice being better listeners. I try to listen carefully and intently to others both in my personal and professional life. Admittedly, sometimes I catch myself not listening as intently as I should, and sometimes I don’t give my undivided attention. It may be because there’s always a next task to ...
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If ever there was a field for which safety culture is critically important, it is radiation oncology. This is due, in part, to the danger posed by introducing radiation to the human body. Add to this multiple human roles in processing every treatment plan, and the psychological complexity of dealing with cancer patients and their hopes, fears and expectations. It becomes important to explore: what are the necessary ingredients to create a successful safety culture? I think there are four pertinent criteria to safety first culture: Leadership vision At an academic medical center, it is typically the chair who expresses the importance of quality/safety ...
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As administrators in radiation oncology many of us are tasked with diverse responsibilities that don’t fit neatly into a job description. Though we are in leadership roles, oftentimes we are the chief cook and the bottlewasher, the go-to people that step in to ensure that last-minute crises are avoided. We get the job done. And while that level of involvement can be rewarding and challenging, it can quickly lead to burnout. Read on for 8 tips to avoid workplace burnout and ensure job satisfaction. Our job requires that we advance the department, but when we are successful, we also advance people. We work with diverse teams of physicians, physicists, clinicians, ...
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In the almost six years I have been writing about radiation oncology for the Society for Radiation Oncology Administrators (SROA), I’ve had the good fortune to interview researchers whose research has changed or will change cancer treatment and patient outcomes. I’ve also had the privilege of talking to administrators and frontline care providers—radiation oncologists, nurses, social workers, etc.—to gather insights to share with SROA’s members about how to enhance care delivery. During that time, immunotherapy has blossomed, proton therapy centers have popped up across the country, survivorship for many cancers has improved, and adaptive planning with MR-guided ...
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