Skilled biomedical equipment technicians (BMETs) are crucial to advancing healthcare in low-resource countries, according to a new report, which calls on a wide variety of stakeholders to come together to support the development of “scalable, replicable, and sustainable” training models for such professionals.
The report BMETs in Low-Resource Countries was prepared for the GE Foundation and the AAMI Foundation. It is a summary of a two-day meeting this past June in Toronto, Canada, at which 55 professionals from various backgrounds and across the globe engaged one another on how best to achieve the vision of effective training for BMETs in countries that need their services desperately.
“Without technology that supports diagnosis and treatment, patients are vulnerable to needless pain and suffering, poor health outcomes, and even death,” reads the report. “Timely access to emergency care and the use of diagnostic and therapeutic tools reduces patient mortality. Yet much of the available equipment in low-resource countries is not functional.”
Until there are more skilled BMETs on the ground to keep medical equipment running safely and effectively, developing countries will be stymied in their efforts to improve patient care, the stakeholders at the meeting concluded. Toward that end, the meeting participants identified six crucial next steps. They are:
Create an international advisory body to assure quality of BMET training based on core competencies.
Create a global alliance that focuses on the promotion of the HTM profession in low-resource countries.
Ensure the strict selection of BMET trainees/trainers.
Engage multiple stakeholders and funders to promote BMETs.
Create sustainable, scalable funding strategies for BMET training to improve public health outcomes.
Define metrics for BMET health impact/outcomes.
The report notes there are considerable challenges to realizing the vision of effective training models, not the least of which is simply paying for such programs. “To date, secure funding for training has not been easy, and funding for community building will likely be more difficult to garner,” the report concludes. Still, the report strikes a “call to action” tenor, urging the HTM community and other healthcare-related professionals to “work together for this common purpose” and make a positive difference in the lives of countless patients around the world.
A final report, which will include specific recommendations for the training models, is due this fall.
AAMI Develops HTM Job Descriptions
AAMI’s Technology Management Council has developed a set of standardized and basic job descriptions that can be used by departments and programs that manage healthcare technology. Each job description includes a suggested job title, and some include what may be a more commonly used title. The descriptions are intended to be used as a starting point and may be modified to suit the needs of managers or others who develop job descriptions.
The basic descriptions developed by the TMC cover such items as education, public safety and regulatory requirements, equipment experience, and customer service. The job descriptions can be downloaded in either PDF or Word format at www.aami.org/jobdescriptions.
AAMI Secures Prestigious Accreditation Role
An influential accreditation board has selected AAMI as its lead member society for bioengineering technology and similarly named programs, such as those for biomedical equipment technicians (BMETs).
The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredits college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering, and technology.
In practical terms, this means that AAMI will now be the professional society that sets guidelines and assists in accreditation efforts for associate and bachelor degree college bioengineering or biomedical engineering technology programs. Additionally, AAMI will provide evaluators to visit colleges to determine if their programs meet the criteria for accreditation.
AAMI had been seen by many in the field as a more logical fit for this role than the previous lead society, which was the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES). The latter is primarily an engineering organization, rather than an organization for BMETs and other technicians in the healthcare technology management (HTM) field. BMES supported efforts for AAMI to become the BMET lead society.
“This is an exciting development, as it will help enhance AAMI’s commitment to HTM education and the future of our profession,” said Steve Yelton, an educator and a member of AAMI’s Board of Directors. “AAMI currently is involved with certification of BMETs, core competencies for college programs, and guidance in career planning and strategy. This will complete the cycle with AAMI becoming involved in assisting in the accreditation of college programs.”
AAMI’s new role as an ABET member society in no way requires BMET educational programs to become ABET-accredited. Some programs choose to become ABET-accredited, while others do not because of costs and other factors. The news about AAMI’s new role with ABET is timely, as AAMI’s Core Competencies for the Biomedical Equipment Technician document is being revised and updated.
A Mentorship Program for You
Are you a seasoned healthcare technology professional interested in guiding a newer peer? Are you a novice in need of insights and tips from a veteran in the field?
AAMI’s mentorship program is for you. Launched earlier this year, the program matches AAMI members who are looking for guidance in specific areas with professionals who have expertise and experience in the same areas.
The goals of the program are to help protégés develop the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed and grow in the healthcare technology field; to provide a venue for them to discuss issues or concerns that are unique to healthcare technology professionals; and to encourage long-term career planning.
Mentors and their protégés generally spend about an hour or two a month meeting in person, over the phone, or via email. The number, type, and duration of meetings can vary depending on what works best for the mentor and protégé. More information is available at www.aami.org/mentorship.
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