Effective BMETs make an effort to learn as much as possible about hospital operations. This makes them more effective and better able to integrate their work with the other hospital departments. Along with developing an understanding of the clinical applications of medical devices, it is also helpful to learn more about some of the departments that you rely on for support.
A good place to start is by learning how your purchasing department operates. Members of that department are usually responsible for processing your replacement parts orders and, more importantly, they can be of valuable assistance when you need vendors to “rush ship” urgently needed repair parts to you. Understanding the ordering process and maintaining good relations with members of this department is critical because any delays in the ordering process will result in increased downtime for the equipment you are repairing.
You can start to learn more about the purchasing process by asking the purchasing director or one of the buyers if they would be willing to show you how they handle your orders. In addition, ask how they receive these items and eventually deliver them to your department. One of the first things you will learn is that your orders are not typical of the items that the buyers normally purchase. Although they routinely process hundreds of orders for the standard medical supplies used regularly by the hospital, any orders you write are likely to be an anomaly for them. Not only are your orders likely to be items that they have never heard of, but there is a good chance that you will be ordering from a vendor they do not know. All of this can combine to delay your orders. Ask the buyers how you can work with them to make the process as easy and smooth as possible for them. One of the things you can do is take the time to write your orders as clearly as possible. Always use part numbers and write precise parts descriptions. Minimize the use of abbreviations and other types if language that non-technical people might misunderstand. Include any phone numbers and names of key vendor personnel who might be able to assist your buyers in the process. Always remember that the key is to get the exact part you need and to get it as soon as possible. Anything you can do to assist the process is likely to result in reduced equipment downtime.
In conjunction with learning about purchasing and receiving, it is also a good idea to have a basic grasp of certain aspects of your accounting department. For example, it is helpful to know that your accounting department will not pay your vendors until they have verification that you have received the parts you ordered. Your receiving department usually verifies receipt of most items that you order but problems sometimes occur when items are rushed to you via Fedex or other overnight delivery services that might bypass the normal receiving process. If your accounting department does not have verification that you received your parts, they may not pay your vendor. If the vendor does not receive timely payment, they may place your account on hold and they will not ship urgently needed parts in the future.
It always helps to remember that although you have a key role to play within your department, you are also part of a much larger team comprised of many departments that work together to keep your hospital running smoothly to provide the best possible healthcare to your community. The more you learn to appreciate and understand all of the various roles that people play, the better equipped you will be to do your job and the more you will enjoy your career.
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