Coming from a medical manufacturing background a long, long time ago, I found the skill set for a biomed to be quite different from my previous medical manufacturing job. It took some time to understand and adapt to the differences I was finding in the biomed field. Looking back now at my experiences and the hundreds of people I have met in the biomed field, I have compiled some characteristics that I consider important in a good biomed. When referring to a biomed, I am including the technicians and engineers found in hospitals, clinics, independent service organizations and other various organizations. A biomed’s main responsibility is to work on and manage the medical equipment found at the facility. To make it simple, I am referring to all the names and titles that biomed represents around the world including Certified Biomedical Electronic Technician (CBET), Biomedical Electronic Technician (BMET), Biomedical Technologist, Biomedical Technician, Biomedical Engineer, Clinical Engineer, Clinical Engineering Technician, Medical Equipment Technician and Healthcare Technology Management (HTM). There are also various levels of education found in this field varying from technical degrees or certificates, associate degree, bachelor degree, masters degree and doctorate degree. This article is referring not to the biomed’s educational background, but to some of the intangible characteristics found in a good biomed.
“All your technical skills, cost-saving measures or life-saving technical safety practices may have minimum impact if your communication skills are poor and your attitude is bad.”
Assuming you have the proper electronic and biomedical training in one of the above-mentioned degrees and certificates, I have found that good biomeds are fearless. Good biomeds are not afraid to tackle a problem, troubleshoot an issue or repair a piece of equipment they may not be all that familiar with. An attitude prevails that with a service manual anything is possible. A PM (preventive maintenance), testing a piece of equipment or even fixing the equipment is always possible. This attitude is tempered with a balance of practicality and safety concerns. Specialized equipment like a MRI machine, anesthesia machine or ventilator would not be worked on without formal training. Also, you do not want to waste endless hours working on a piece of equipment that another colleague may be more familiar with and can fix quickly. Nevertheless, an attitude of fearlessness is present.
Because of the volume of equipment that is serviced by a typical biomed in a medical facility, the biomed must be very efficient. When you get 200 new infusion pumps coming into the facility for an incoming inspection, the way you manage the incoming inspections must be efficiently planned. From unboxing and documenting to the actual testing, everything should be well thought out and a plan developed. Hours can be lost if you are not deliberate or are sloppy with your procedures. This also goes for preventive maintenance (PM) strategies for your departments. Of course, as you become more seasoned your procedures become better and better. However, a good biomed is always thinking of how to save time and become more efficient.
Medical equipment is always changing and advancing in medical facilities. Your know-how has to advance and change with it. You always need to be learning and changing with the advancements. You should be attending biomed conferences and local meetings to find out best practices used at other hospitals and facilities while always keeping in mind that your ideas are not always the best. With the advancements of computers and computer networking, a biomed must know a lot about computer technology. Staying curious is a must. Volunteering and pushing for outside professional OEM training advances your skill set. The budget may or may not be there, but you should always be pushing for more education.
4. Attention To Detail
We have all heard this: A good biomed works on medical equipment as if a beloved family member will be the next person using the equipment. There is no room for mistakes. Everything should be done with an acute attention to detail, including all documentation.
5. Customer Service Skills
Communication and customer service skills may be the most important characteristic on this list. Without customer service skills, all your good work may be in vain. All your technical skills, cost-saving measures or life-saving technical safety practices may have minimum impact if your communication skills are poor and your attitude is bad. The nurses, doctors and other customers only know you by how you treat and communicate with them. Your appearance, your attitude, and your handling of each service request in a professional manner matters. If you stay in the biomed shop all day, are rude on the phone when someone calls for service, or are short tempered with nurses or doctors, you may find yourself or your department outsourced or not shown any respect by the CFO authorizing your department’s budget.
The biomed, biomed manager and/or biomed director should be promoting the department and its staff whenever they have a chance to do so. Most colleagues in the hospital or medical facility have no idea what a biomed is or what they do. For example, biomeds save the hospital money, promote safety and promote patient care through high quality working medical equipment. Biomeds should be instructors and promoters, instructing people on proper medical equipment use, sharing safety concerns and also promoting the biomed department’s usefulness in money-saving strategies.
John Mazur is a Sales Representative with Biomedequip Inc. in Bedford Heights, Ohio.
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