The healthcare industry is one big system, and it is placed upon the shoulders of the leaders to maintain accountability and integrity among every practitioner if they want to save lives. To give an idea of how the people on top work, decide, and think, Richard Marn, MD interviews Ginu Abraham, MBA, MRSO, ARRT, the Radiology Administrative Director at Mount Sinai Queens Hospital in New York. Ginu explains his duties as the main person in charge of several people within his department by discussing what his usual day looks like, the misconceptions about his position, and what he loves or hates as an administrator. Moreover, he shares advice to those who aspire to emulate his work, focusing on the ups and downs of being a leader in the medical field.
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Maintaining Accountability And Integrity In The Healthcare Industry With Ginu Abraham, MBA, MRSO, ARRT
Healthcare is a large entity not just a large machine and takes a lot of coordination and organization to make it run and home on a daily basis. If you ever wonder how that happens? We’re going to talk with Ginu Abraham. He is an Administrative Director for the Department of Radiology at Mount Sinai Queens Hospital in New York. You’re going to learn how his role is critical in making sure this organization runs efficiently and is well coordinated. We’ll talk about being an MRI tech and how that has helped him be better at his job.
A little bit of background on Ginu. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Radiology Technology at Long Island University and also went on to get an MBA at Touro University. He then worked his way up starting as an MRI specialist at NYU and then became an MRI technologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center on Fifth Avenue. He eventually became an Operations Manager and now Administrative Director, which is a big deal. He’s in charge of about sixteen people. We’re going to hear about his role as an organizational specialist and administrator after having initially started as a technologist. I do want to say in a future episode we will be getting different radiology technologists to talk about their careers. In this episode, I want to focus on Ginu and his role as an Administrative Director. Let’s jump into it.
With me is my longtime friend. We’ve been known each other for many years, Ginu Abraham.
Dr. Marn, how are you?
How about if you feel more comfortable? You can call me Richard. This is a little bit of a less formal situation.
I like that. That’s how I’ve been introducing myself to you all the time.
We’ve known each other since about 2005. That’s when we started at Mount Sinai.
It’s probably a little bit less than that. I started at Sinai in 2011.
I want to talk about what you do in healthcare, Ginu. You were an MRI technologist but I want to emphasize more about what you do now. What you do day-to-day is different. You’re now an Administrative Director in the Department of Radiology. I’d love to know what that entails and what you basically do.
I started off as an MRI tech. When I first started my career, I moved up the ladder. I guess you can see in one aspect since I started in 2009 as an MRI tech. In 2013, I moved into management with MRI as a Manager as well, too. Now, as administrative director, I’m going on to almost five years now doing this. It’s complete between being a technologist and being an administrator. You’re still there, you’re still doing everything but with the admin director, dealing with the day-to-day operations mainly because not just MRI, you have X-ray, CT, bone density, mamo, ultrasound. I even do also PET-CT.
There’s the nuclear medicine side of it as well, too. The day-to-day operations, I’m more on the ambulatory outpatient side. We’re going daily schedules, tech schedules, making sure that the schedule moves as quickly as possible and make sure that patients are in and out. One thing we all don’t want anybody to wait around to get their care. Each exam may take a certain time to get done but the goal is to get them in and out and make sure that the patient care level and treatment are at the advertised level at all times. That’s the majority of what we do on a given day.
There are many little accreditations and different things that we have to join the Commission, the Department of Health. For radiology it’s called ACR, which is the American College of Radiology and they also have their accreditation processes. You will have to keep up with and make sure that the tech credentials are up-to-date, the doctor’s credentials and the radiologist credentials. There are a lot of minor things but there’s also that big part of it, just making sure that you work with the team. That part on a given day working with me, each of my team members, each of my techs to get through the day. We also have a front desk, clerks and our first line of defense, making sure that their day is as good as possible and making sure that they have the ability to do their job as well, too.
You’re in a lot of organization and coordination on a daily basis. Would it be a good description that you keep the process going, the machine moving and getting the patients through thoroughly and efficiently?
That’s one thing. Every day, I went through the schedule for the week and then I looked at the schedule for tomorrow and this is more of our patient’s schedule. Making sure that they could get through the day. Patients scheduled at 9:00 what time are they supposed to come? Make sure we tell them to get in on time, make sure that they leave on time, get into the department and then leave because nobody wants to be here for 3 or 4 hours to get one thing done. At the same time, we got to do it in a patient-safe and patient-friendly way that they feel they’re comfortable because not every patient coming in because there’s something’s going on. They may have broken a bone or they may have cancer, you have to make sure that you also understand all the patients’ situations so that you’re taking care of them in that proper mind too as well.
What are the type of people that you are in charge of? You’ve already talked about the different types of radiology techs that you have to supervise. You also talked about some front office administrative people that help do the scheduling, I imagine. What are the people are you interacting with that you also have to deal with?
On a given day, I have my team members so I can start from the front. We have our front desk, individuals that they have to make sure the insurance that the patient has goes with what they’re charging for the study. They also have to make sure there’s authorization Those people itself because of the front line before everything starts, have to make sure that everything is authorized, verified and that’s the first aspect of it. You then have the technical stuff. I was saying in the beginning, we have the bone densities, the mamos, ultrasound techs, you have the PET-CT tech, you have MRI techs, different techs that we have.
The important part with that is that they’re working with them to make sure that they have the tools to get through their day. Do they have the contrast that injects the patient with? Do they have the ultrasound? Even the gel, do they have gel? Do we have gel in the department to make sure that they can use that for the ultrasonic waves that they need to use? Even little things like pens and paper, there are many different little things that we have to make sure of. An example, for the front desk, we didn’t have a label maker. Making sure that we have the labels to fill a label maker.
Those little things that even though it sounds like a small little thing that could derail a given day because we don’t have that tool. Making sure that we have checks and balances and we have everything that we need to get through the day, the week, the month. every product that we buy doesn’t come the next day. Especially with all that’s going on in the world, you also have to make sure there are no backorders, making sure that you work with your materials management and your pharmacy, even with the security. You have to make sure the building and the AC are good to go. When we’re at home, we want to be cool and everything, if you come into the building, you want that same situation. Making sure that you have those relationships with those people as well too. That’s another thing that is important because, like how we met, we worked as an anesthesiologist, me as a manager/tech and made sure that things in a given day were going well especially for the patients’ sake.
What are the types of doctors besides anesthesiologists to interact with on a regular basis?
With this administrative director role, I can say interact with doctors. I have primary care doctors, surgeons, any specialty doctors. It can be an orthopedic surgeon, urologist and vascular surgeon, building those relationships because a lot of the referrals that we get are from these doctors. We make sure that we have close communication so that we can get their patients in, in a timely fashion. That’s the important part and you build relationships, not with just the doctors but also with their medical assistants, their assistants, even their scrubs, maybe. It’s because you have to make sure that these patients need something prior to surgery, you want to get it in before that as well too.The most gratifying part in the medical field is seeing what you did to help others and seeing them coming back to say thanks. Click To Tweet
Now, there’s a patient that’s scheduled with us and has surgery on Friday so I was missing something. I texted him I have the doctor’s cell phone number. I said, “Do a quick second, didn’t check your email,” and within five minutes because with the relationship that we have, he put the script in and we’ll be good for tomorrow’s 8:00 AM thing. It was something small but it’s something that we’re building that relationship as an administrator, as an employee of the hospital as well as trying to make sure that you work with everyone. You’re going to have bumps and hurdles throughout the day. You’re always going to have that but as long as you build those relationships, try to work and try to get things done, it’s not that bad at all.
To make things simplistic, phrenology is all about imaging experts and images help direct care, help identify problems that physicians and other healthcare practitioners can utilize to treat the patient. You help to manage that situation where you can make sure that imaging gets done in a timely manner and gets to the right people. Is that a simplistic way to say it?
That’s a quick simple way to get a yes.
Is there any type of patients that you work with? I would usually say to a lot of people who have asked him but it sounds like you deal with all sorts of patients.
Every exam that we do is a bit different. We have texts that deal with patients. I’m on the floor, trying to direct how the day goes, my techs, my team are awesome. They get this day and everything going. You deal with different patients like I was saying before is you have patients that come in that have cancer, you have patients that come in that they just have pain. It’s different things like that which get you through the day but you have to make sure that you understand the patient. We had a patient, a little story. He had a 1:00 appointment, showed up at 9:00 in the morning.
He said, “Somebody told me 9:00.” Unfortunately because it’s an MRI schedule, you have a back-to-back. We spoke to him, he didn’t have breakfast, I said, “Have a bite to eat.” He understood that. We took him back downstairs. He was in a wheelchair and he came back two hours later and we were able to take him early. It worked out in that aspect but every day is a little bit different depending on our schedule and how we’re able to work with everyone. You deal with different patients, different situations, everyone has a different diagnosis. As long as you understand where they’re coming from, you can work with them to make sure that they’re taken care of.
I would also say that as an administrative director for radiology, you have to be a tech, don’t you? You have to know the equipment that you’re utilizing. For example, some patients cannot just walk into an MRI and you have to make sure that they’re vetted out correctly. If something does go wrong, how to respond appropriately and it’s not like a regular old manager off the street can do this. You have to have a radiology tech background to get into this type of position. Is that true?
I think it’s helpful. One of my techs one time told me, he was like, “I’ve been waiting for this time to work with somebody that has been in the seat before.” He even said that to me one time because the person that he dealt with before was more of an administrator. The reason why I say it’s helpful for that aspect is that you know the machines, how the floor would work and you understand what you’re doing. I used to work with a radiologist that used to be a tech.
He himself started that way. When you spoke to him, he understood where we were coming from. That was years ago when I met him but he was like, “I remember doing that. You can do it that way. That works for me too.” That was somebody that went through that tear of things of going through X-ray school and working his way up to be a radiologist. That was something where you can see the difference in that aspect. You have a lot of radiologists that also will sit with the tech as well as learn the processes because then they get better understanding to figure out, “If we have a question then you’re able to answer it on the tech way.” It is definitely helpful to be in the field I believe because of that aspect of understanding the nuances of the machines, even the workflow of how the department works.
Ginu, what’s your typical day like? What time do you show up? How does the day start? What’s your day end as this administrative director?
I usually get in around 8:00. My first meeting is at 8:30. Now because of COVID, they’re Zoom meetings so I don’t need to run to a room, which is nice but COVID is not nice.
You’re running to rooms?
Yeah. You have to run from meeting-to-meeting on a given day. I quickly check some emails. Even though I look at it, the schedule the day before especially on the been on the outpatient and I look at it again, make sure there are no changes that I drastically saw within the next day. At the end of the day something could quickly change and somebody didn’t tell us about it. The first call in the morning is an 8:30 call where the whole hospital gets on a phone call and reports out what’s going on in the department. I’ll catch up a little bit more on emails and my techs get in.
The department starts at 8:00 as well. By 9:15 we’ll go downstairs, 9:15, 9:30 say good morning to the whole team, make sure that they have everything that they need. Most of them will text me, call me or shoot me a message in the morning if there’s something drastic that they need. I’ll walk around say good morning to my whole team one by one. I stop by their rooms and make sure they are okay. As long as I don’t have any meetings I stay in the department until around noon. At 1:00, I’ll have another meeting or something. If I have no meetings, I stay in the department all morning until 12:00 or 1:00 in the day.
I would come up, check, to make sure I haven’t missed anything. Most of my emails come on my phone but I usually keep up with them. I’m here from 8:00 to 6:00 on a good day. Between the phone calls, the emails and I get calls to schedule certain exams because our next available won’t be for some time. It’s because of how work with the techs and work with the department you find that little section to squeeze something in and then work with the given day with all the exams. Each day is different because I can have a note like now, I only had three meetings, tomorrow we have five meetings. Each meeting is like an hour or so. You got to fit that in there while the department’s running. I’m in a unique situation because I’m the only admin. I don’t have an assistant or a lead tech in my department. A lot of departments have an admin assistant. I’m in a unique situation because we’re brand new. I came to a brand new facility. Over time hopefully we’ll grow a little bit more and have all the little help on the other end.
There are different tiers in the organization. You were from the techs to I would say maybe middle management and then you’re one of the more senior management people but there’s no middle management, just the techs and staff all answering to you.
That’s only because this practice opened up in 2016 when I came over. I wouldn’t say this is growing pains but growing of the department and over time it will be there but it’s not bad at all.
What misconceptions do people have about your career?
With the being an administrator, the craziness, that’s a light word to use of how the day goes. Administrators are doing long hours doing long meetings after meetings. I see myself as a little bit different because I do my meetings in the department. I don’t sit in my office all day long. That’s a little misconception. I don’t sit in my office all day. My goal is always and I tell my team that is to be with them at all times, unfortunately because I have meetings, I do have to step away. As long as I feel like they know that I’m available, I think that helps by text by phone or whatever it is. The big biggest misconception I don’t think being an administrator is a desk job. I would simply put it.
What is your most rewarding part of your job?If you’re at home, you’re home. It should be your family time and that’s it. Click To Tweet
As long as my team is happy and also a lot of times, we get emails or letters stating that they had a great experience. That itself gives us that thing, “We’re doing something right,” because we don’t think anybody’s doing it to get that praise. Once in a while, it reminds us that we’re here for that good reason. Radiology helped another physician to get that diagnosis to help that patient. Depending on what the diagnosis is but the gratifying part is like, “We’re in healthcare, we’re here to help.” To be able to see that we did that or even to see a patient come back. There was a patient that went through a whole process with breast cancer and we started the process with the biopsies and everything else. Everything went well and she came back and thanked our radiologist.
She came back and said thank you?
Yeah and because she also with her with our follow-ups too so she came back. She said thank you. It’s not because we’re doing it to get that, “Thank you,” but at the end of the day, it’s just to see that long-term aspect of it happening. I remember a quick non-administrative story. When I was a tech, there was a patient that I scanned myself and when she came back, I was a manager ready and she goes, “Is there any way that you can scan me because I remember how much you took care of me and everything else like that.” I knew I moved up, I said, “I’ll come with you. I’ll set you up but I can’t do the scan because I got to go back on the floor.” I was a tech at that time I put her on the table I set her up I said, “My techs will take care of you.” It was the fact that she remembered me and wanted me to do it. That’s the thing is in general, anybody feels that they to help somebody I think it’s always gratifying part of about any job.
That does sound rewarding. Is there a point in your job that’s not rewarding or the least favorite part of your job?
When I don’t get lunch. Not per se. Especially being in radiology and each day is not the same. We have a schedule There are many different things that can happen. I don’t think there’s a negative part of the job. It’s being able to manipulate your day your schedule, being able to be on your toes, to make sure you can get through the day. I don’t think there’s a bad part to it.
How would you describe your work-life balance?
Sometimes it’s challenging, I got two little boys at home. It’s a challenge of making sure that I still have that time to see them awake. That’s the main thing is making sure that I get my work done because, at the end of the day, the work will be there. Especially the urgent stuff, I think that’s the biggest thing that anybody should worry about is making sure that on the given day, on the same day that you get, what are the most important things out of the way so that’s not over your shoulder? Your main thing is you don’t want to bring anything home. That’s the most important thing I’ve learned over the years is that once you’re home, you’re home. If somebody reaches out, they do not respond to them but at the same time is once you’re home, it should be your family time and that’s it.
Why did you even choose to go from an MRI tech to administrator? What was the purpose? There’s going to be a little bit more money. What are the reasons?
It’s a funny story. As an MRI tech or tech in general and I don’t think I ever had an aspiration to become an administrator but let’s put that out there. When I joined Mount Sinai, I was an MRI tech, I came in, I just got married. I was the new guy on the block an opportunity came to become the MRI and that’s when we met more and work together. I got the opportunity to be the operations manager there and I said, “Let me try it. I can do good at it. I can work with this and try to see what I can do.” I won’t say better but also, I had some ideas in my mind already because I was working there.
The offer came and I took it. It was a good decision A few years later, a little bit after 2.5 years, the opportunity to become the admin director here and have my own site came up and I said, “Another opportunity, let me take it.” I love working with my team here. I love all the aspects of it. Having a good team and working with people as long as you can keep that going and that confidence between you as a leader as well as trying to make sure that you as an individual can make their day better. Make sure that patients are taken care of is an important part of it.
Being an admin director and working with many different people and types of people and the day-to-day is a great experience, a great opportunity. Being a leader is not saying, “Do this, do that.” Working with everybody to say, “What can we do to get this patient taken care of and making sure that the day runs.” Every day in radiology is a new day but it’s any day. Working with everybody and trying to get it done is important.
Do you recommend your career to students?
No, definitely. I’ve moved up from a neck been starting to go to school for an X-ray tech and move my way up to the administrator. There’s so much going on and even with all that went on with COVID, radiology was a big piece of that to get a diagnosis and everything else like that. Hopefully, COVID will disappear but healthcare needs will always be there. It’s important that being able to help with the diagnosis of patients. This field will continue to grow. I don’t see it stopping or being a slump. As long as there’s a need for imaging and everything else in this field will continue to grow.
Do you think that the future outlook is looking good for your profession?
One hundred percent. There’s always going to be a need for imaging, there’s always going to be people breaking bones. There are different types of imaging to get a diagnosis but they all look to be good for us and there are jobs now as well.
How did you even get started? As a high school student, were you thinking about being a radiology tech even then?
Not at all. When I was in high school, when you’re in your freshman year, where you’re just like, “We can do this, I got this. I don’t think about anything else.” Your parents at that time are like, “What are you going to do in college?” I went from computer engineering to thinking about being a doctor, to being a pharmacist and so many different aspects of it. I still went into college trying to make my decision. I tried pharmacy I tried not even thought about being a doctor took my MCAT. I was with a group of guys and they even were like, “Do the MCAT. Go over here, we’ll do together.” I’m like, “Do you want to cheat off me? Is that what you’re doing?” One thing that radiology came to my mind, I have an uncle that was in radiology as a tech. There was a point where I got into a car accident with my sister and nothing happened to us, we were fine. I remember going into the X-ray room my knees were hurting so they took some whatever. I was like, “This looks cool.” They asked him to see the picture and whatever.
How old were you then?
Either I’m 10th or 11th. I was around that time. The funny part at that time, I was a pharmacy tech at that same hospital that they took me to. As a pharmacy tech, working trying to make some extra money.
Do you mean as a high school student?Every day in radiology is a new day, but it’s any day. Click To Tweet
Yeah, as a high school student. I’m in eleventh, trying to be a pharmacy tech at the hospital and doing whatever. My interaction was with that X-ray, that room and it was a knee X-ray if I remember. That was my first interaction. My uncle is somewhere in Brooklyn, he was on the tech as well. He was a supervisor. He was like, “Let me take you there.” I went there for a few days. I sat around. I went in as a volunteer, spent my day there to get an understanding and that was a good opportunity to learn to see what was going on everything like that.
Shadowing your uncle basically.
He let me sit and the hospital allowed me because I went through the volunteer process to sit by the techs as well, too. It was nice to do that as well too. That’s how it started. I said, “Let me apply,” and I went through the process with the schooling. There are different opportunities with that as well too with how you want to become an X-ray tech and move your way up. The schooling is completely different.
When you were in school whether it’s high school or college, you were working?
Yes, I was working for a little bit. It’s more of an opportunity. It was more of a Saturday, Sunday gig. My parents say, “Why don’t you try to see what you like.” The pharmacy was the big thing back then at that point because it was like, “Try it.” It wasn’t for me.
You were working as a pharmacy tech. Did you have any other jobs?
No. I worked at a private place and then I went with the guy that moved to the hospital. He got me a job at the hospital too. I was there on Saturdays and Sundays, every other week or something like that. It also got me my hospital experience. You get to know things at the hospital as well too. Especially, being at a hospital and a pharmacy tech, you go to each floor to see different things to fill the Pyxis or whatever. I always tell people is like, “I always feel like being in the hospital or, in general, doing different things and understanding, molds you in a different way too.” Even if you choose whatever profession you choose, you always remember little things like, “I went through that.” Even PRN as needed or NPO. I would only know that because of working in a hospital before. Now, for radiology for certain exams or CTA more, you need to be NPO. In the beginning, I’ll probably be like, “What the hell is that?” Those little things, learning just being in a hospital learn different things is important. It gives you that ability to know a little bit more.
You’re working every other weekend and go to school during the week. Were there any other sacrifices you’re making or at least you felt were sacrifices to get to where you’re at now?
Those are the major things. With anything that you do on the weekend, you could be hanging out with your friends, playing basketball or whatever. As kids, you’re always going to run into those things but you can still bounce it again it was every other weekend so have the other weekends to hang out later out and stuff like that. It goes back to the balances of anything that you do. Like I said, when you’re talking about work and family life, just like that, knowing where you can balance everything. You can do everything. You can do whatever you want. You have to make sure that you have the time if you got to wake up at 5:00, you got to wake up at 5:00. If you need to get up early, maybe go to sleep a little earlier but it’s a matter of trying to get everything done within the time that you feel like you can get it done.
Reflecting back, Ginu, would you have done anything differently?
It was kind of what this show is. Like I was telling you when we first talked that every year in January, I usually do a presentation in front of high school, middle school kids. Those opportunities weren’t there for me and I don’t think it was there for a lot of people to know exactly what’s out there. The fact that you’re doing this, the thing that I talk about in January, I see the reactions from the children from the schools. To hear about different things because you can only see what you get in Google or by searching something and you’re like, “That looks good but the opportunity to learn more and hear more, those are the things that would be ideal to hear. This platform that you’re doing now is amazing. This is great.”
What other advice do you give students then? What advice do you give them when you do this presentation at the beginning of the year?
The way my presentation general works is that radiology has vastly different careers or things that they can do and whatever. The most important thing, I may be missing things but showing them the different slides about the different professions in radiology. Tell them how to get there and making sure that they understand. There are opportunities out there. The hardest part is making that decision. When you go into high school and going to college, trying to make that decision of what you think you want to do and a lot of people go undecided.
Going undecided is not the worst thing but make sure that you have a goal in mind at the end of the day to say, “I’m going and undecided, let me make sure I have a few ideas in my head so that I could veer towards that, as long as that feels a certain way.” You can always change your career but you always have to go in with a mindset of, “These are the things I think I want to do.” It could easily change because one day that career might be the greatest thing that’s out there and then next year it might not be. At least if you go undecided, ideally, it’d be nice to know what profession you’re going to but it’s not the worst thing going undecided.
Before we end, I want to go through some rapid-fire questions. There are short answers unless there’s an interesting story behind it. Favorite season?
Peaches or snow?
Do you like Disneyland?
I do.Going undecided is not the worst thing, but make sure you have a goal in mind at the end of the day. Click To Tweet
If you could get a yacht, what would you call it?
What’s the first thing you grab for in the morning?
My cell phone.
What’s something you could eat for a week straight?
If you were stranded on a tropical island, what two things would you want with you?
I going to need my cell phone and I need water to survive. I have to learn how to make water from saltwater.
Last question, if you could ask God one question, what would it be?
When will be the end?
You pass. Where can readers go to reach you and learn more about you if they want to do so?
I’m on LinkedIn. You can always send a message to LinkedIn. I respond to over there it’s Ginu Abraham. I’m on LinkedIn itself so you can reach out there and you can always respond via the messaging on there as well.
Is it under the Administrative Director of the Department of Radiology? Extraordinaire? Ginu, thank you for joining me on this episode. I appreciate it. You helped bring some light to what you do and to kids that are interested in especially radiology tech and administrative responsibilities. Thank you.
Thank you for reading this episode. I enjoyed talking with Ginu about his career as an Administrative Director for the Department of Radiology in Mount Sinai of Queens in New York. Especially I liked a few things that he highlighted and what I picked up on at least and that was good managerial habits of checking in with each team member before he starts the day. Highlighting the fact that there are fast opportunities and things to do in technology and his profession within radiology. It’s not such a closed system. He was fortunate to take advantage of one of those opportunities and that is to be an administrator because he enjoys it and he’s also quite frankly good at it. I was fortunate to have worked with him for a few years when we were both at Mount Sinai Hospital. To learn more about this guest and other past guests or if you’d like to reach out to me, visit HealthCareersWithDrMarn.com or HCWithDrMarn.com. Catch you all on the next episode.
- Ginu Abraham – LinkedIn
About Ginu Abraham
Director of Imaging Services – Department of Radiology at Mount Sinai Health System (Queens)
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