I would like to give you an update on the accreditation of college level Healthcare Engineering Technology programs. This is very important to college education programs as well as hospitals, third-party organizations and manufacturers looking to attain qualified employees. I’ll give an update as well as suggest how everyone may use this information.
AAMI is the lead society within the Technology Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (TAC-ABET). In this role, AAMI helps guide TAC-ABET with items related to the criteria used for accrediting college Healthcare Technology Management (HTM) and similarly named programs. These could be associate or bachelor degree programs. I serve as the chair of AAMI’s Healthcare Technology Accreditation Committee (HTAC). The HTAC makes recommendations for accrediting these Healthcare Engineering Technology (currently referred to by TAC-ABET as bioengineering technology) programs. The HTAC is comprised of educators and industry personnel and recently completed its second annual meeting.
The HTAC has made great strides over the past year and a half in initiating changes for the college programs that produce Healthcare Engineering Technicians, Biomedical Engineering Technicians or similarly named positions. One issue that the committee is working on is maintaining consistency in naming of programs as indicated by the name “Healthcare Engineering Technology Management” and further the name “Healthcare Engineering Technology.” This is a direct result of the outcomes of AAMI’s “Future Forum” meetings. The HTAC feels that education program names should be updated to conform to possible upcoming industry changes.
The HTAC is also working on updating the criteria for curriculums of the college programs mentioned above. These include associate degree and bachelor degree programs in Healthcare Engineering Technology. The committee felt that the criteria for these programs was dated and desperately needed a change. They used resources from AAMI’s various projects – such as Core Competencies and Career Ladder as well as many of AAMI’s member resources for guidance – to recommend changes to TAC-ABET.
TAC-ABET requires that any changes go out for “public comment” from other professional organizations within TAC-ABET to provide guidance and approval on any proposed changes to HTM programs.
Another function of the HTAC is to provide TAC-ABET with program evaluators (PEVS) who are trained to visit college programs interested in initial or continued TAC-ABET accreditation. The PEVs evaluate the programs to make sure that they meet TAC-ABET’s stringent requirements for accreditation. Many of the PEVs work in healthcare technology management in hospitals. They find that they are able to provide much needed insight into the accreditation process and are able to learn valuable lessons that they can take back to their hospitals. If you are interested in becoming a PEV, be sure to contact the HTAC of AAMI.
Another reason that I mention the HTAC in this column is that the resources generated by AAMI and the HTAC for TAC-ABET accredited programs can be used by other college programs to help with the development and advancement of its curriculum. The HTAC realizes that not all college programs are interested in becoming TAC-ABET accredited, but all are likely interested in improvement. Many of the guidance documents developed for college programs are also available for any AAMI member. AAMI is providing resources that would be impossible to gain without the national reach of the organization. This information may be attained at www.aami.org and www.abet.org.
I am constantly interested in “The Future” as it relates to Healthcare Engineering Technology education and how it affects technicians. In my opinion, we need to encourage continuing education in order to be successful and highly effective in the future.
Health care facilities may want to take advantage of the AAMI and TAC-ABET educational resources to enhance their in-house training programs. The resources are recommended by a national group of experts and reflect current trends in the industry. As financial resources for training become more and more limited, we have to look for ways to train technicians and provide backup and succession planning for current technicians. Many health care institutions do not have the luxury of having a college HTM program close by and must rely on other methods for continuing education. For example, the TCHHN clinical engineering department is currently enhancing its in-house training program for all employees of the department and utilizing the resources I have mentioned for guidance.
Steven J. Yelton, PE, CHTM; is a Senior Consultant for HTM at The Christ Hospital Health Network in Cincinnati, Ohio and a Professor at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College where he teaches biomedical instrumentation courses. He is a member of AAMI’s Board of Directors-Executive Committee, AAMI’s Foundation Board of Directors, Chair of AAMI’s Technology Management Council, Chair of AAMI’s HTAC and is a member of the ABET Board of Delegates.
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