Last week we talked about your profession and the kind of department where you might want to work. After you have started working, you will have to learn your way around the hospital. You will also begin learning the idiosyncrasies of the various medical devices that your department maintains. If you want to be truly effective in your work, however, do not limit your knowledge to the technical aspects of testing and repairing devices. If you learn to combine your technical knowledge with a broader and more in depth knowledge of device applications, you will become a more valuable asset to the nurses, physicians and other caregivers who are the primary users of medical devices.
Gaining this broader knowledge requires that you first develop an understanding of the various hospital nursing departments and the different types of patients that they care for. Although each hospital is different, most of them share certain similarities. For instance, they all will have a variety of nursing departments with each serving varying roles. Typically, you will find intensive care units for cardiac patients, post surgical patients and neonates. You will find nursing departments that specialize on rehabilitation, pediatrics, post surgery, psychiatric and many other types of care. Within each of these departments, you find specialized types of nurses who may also have differing equipment needs and applications.
It also helps if you learn that like BMETs who have different levels of training, knowledge and certification, there are variety of levels of nursing training and knowledge. They range from the very basic Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA), through Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), and Registered Nurses (RN) who usually hold Bachelors Degrees (BSN). Today, we find that many nurses are also pursuing advanced degrees such as a Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) as well as PhDs. In addition, you will find nurses with advanced certifications as Nurse Practitioners or Certified Nurse Specialists (CNS). You will find that nurses, particularly those with advanced training and certification are able to teach you a lot about equipment applications and the features that are most important to them.
If your hospital has a cardiovascular surgical program, it will be helpful for you to learn more about the variety of equipment that the surgical team relies on to perform their surgeries successfully. One of the people who can help you learn more about this is the cardiovascular perfusionist. Perfusionists tend to be equipment oriented and have a broad understanding of the peripheral equipment associated with cardiac surgery. In some hospitals, they also manage the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation program (ECMO) which is heavily reliant on equipment. Although you may never be involved in the testing and repair of perfusion pumps or ECMO apparatus, the perfusionist can be an excellent person to assist you in broadening your knowledge.
There are many other specialists in a hospital that can help you learn and grow to become a better BMET. Some specialists are excellent teachers who will take the time to help you learn more about clinical applications. The key is to get to know them and then ask if they will teach you about what they do and how they do it. Ask them if you can sit in on their training sessions so you can understand better how they are trained on devices. You can also encourage your supervisor to invite them to attend your department meetings to discuss their profession and answer your questions. If your supervisor is unwilling to do this, exercise some personal initiative and ask the specialists if they would be willing to give you some time to learn more about their work. One thing is certain; you cannot become a fully knowledgeable BMET by staying in your workshop, or limiting your education to what other BMETs choose to teach you. You have to be resourceful and find ways to learn from the various specialists who are involved directly in patient care.
Next week we will talk more about hospital operations and departments that can help you become more successful in your work.
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