Annie Collum, BSN, RN is the RIA Senior Manager, Physician Liaison in Denver, Colorado
August 24, 2021patient care, team, technology
Meet Your Care Team: Andy Trovinger, BSRS RT (R)(MR)(CT)(CV)
An interview with Clinical Sciences Specialist Andy Trovinger, BSRS RT (R)(MR)(CT)(CV), brought out his passion for radiology.
How long have you been in the radiology field?
I started in 1986 and wound up getting into both CT and MRI very early on. Before I was even out of school in fact!
What made you want to get into radiology?
Well, my mother suggested that I apply for a job in the hospital where she worked, and they had a job in radiology. I developed films, managed the file room and transported patients. I got to witness some CT scans, which were hilariously archaic in those days, but to me, it was the coolest thing, and it became my goal. So I applied to a radiography program at one of the local colleges and got in and went through my training. I was in the Washington, D.C., area, and the school had a couple of fellowship programs for us: One was pediatric radiology at Children’s National Medical Center, and I had a choice of several at the NIH, so I went through an MRI fellowship, a CT fellowship, and one each in nuclear medicine and radiation therapy. I had also been offered a job doing all the radiology scut work in the department at Suburban Hospital, where I was also doing my primary clinical rotations. Eventually, they discovered that I was interested in almost everything, so they put me in CT, and that’s where things took off.
There weren’t many MRI systems in the D.C. metro area in those days — only about five, and just three of those were in hospitals. When I got out of school, MRI wasn’t as interesting as CT to me, so I stuck with that and worked about three jobs at a time. I eventually found myself at University of Maryland Hospital/Shock Trauma. That was a very interesting stint, and I learned so much there. I usually didn’t stay in one place in those days because, like now, there was a tech shortage. That eventually led me to working as what we now call a traveler; in those days, you were an “agency tech.”
I was lucky to have had so much experience on so many different CT and MRI machines that they had no trouble keeping me busy full-time until 1991, when the tide turned, and the new crop of techs graduated from all the schools, and older techs with tenure started filling the vacant CT and MRI positions. I took a lengthy vacation, and while I was away, I was recruited into an applications position, which I started in February of 1992 and stayed with until the same month in 1999 when I was recruited by one of my customers to manage MRI across their growing practice in Baltimore and central Maryland. That’s where Dr. Sonin and I met. The practice grew very rapidly during the 2.5 years I was there and had doubled in size, and I moved up to assistant director, then director of MRI services. I’d stayed in touch with Dr. Sonin, who had left and joined RIA, and he invited me out to meet the group in April of 2002. An offer followed in June, and I was a member of the team by late August of that year. [See below for the rest.]
What is a clinical science specialist?
It started off as “physician-technologist liaison,” where I was aligned with the radiologists and acted as a conduit to focus on improving and evolving MRI and CT techniques, protocols and tech education. It became evident early on that I was a strong negotiator and had a lot of experience with optimizing MRI and CT capital projects, so I assisted leadership with evaluating and configuring new MRI systems and then getting them implemented. New programs like CT colonography and then coronary CT (at Porter initially) started rolling, so I helped fine-tune those and assist with tech education. Regulatory and compliance caught my interest as well, so I assisted with those aspects of CT and MRI. I also was tasked by one of the radiologists in 2003 to start looking at radiation exposure in CT and what we could do to reduce it while still maintaining diagnostic image quality.
Ten years down the road, when the first set of reference values was published, we, across the practice and in most of the hospitals, were WELL below reference values. So much so that some of the folks in Nashville couldn’t even believe it. We had reduced our exposure on CT exams anywhere from 45% to 70% in 10 years, thanks to the engagement of the radiologists, constant feedback and a lot of hard work. My title eventually morphed to clinical sciences specialist, and shortly thereafter, we expanded the position to include women’s imaging and ultrasound.
A clinical sciences specialist is a technologist by training who takes the deepest dives on the technology and science they work with and uses it to its fullest potential to produce the best images, the most efficient protocols and workflows, and pursues opportunities to leverage our expertise together with new and emerging technologies to maintain RIA and ISJ in a leadership position in the field. RIA improves lives and the quality and delivery of imaging care in every market in which they practice.
What do you like most about working at RIA?
RIA is a family to me. The physicians are world-class, and there’s a rare cohesiveness forged from the passion and hard work everyone does. It’s meaningful and very satisfying work because I can see and feel the impact that my work has. This is also just such an incredible group of people on every side. The passion is unmatched anywhere I’ve ever been. We work hard because it means something, and it’s professionally very rewarding. Did I say how great the radiologists are? And they aren’t just fantastic physicians — they are some of the nicest and most enjoyable people you’ll meet. And it just keeps getting better. My passion is pushing the envelope on image quality in MRI and doing my part to keep RIA/ISJ as the best imaging provider and a fulfilling workplace for our techs. We set the bar very high.