By K. Richard Douglas
Building something can be a challenge. When it is an organization that is the new project, it takes ascending the learning curve, the help of many contributors and plenty of goal-setting to see it grow.
That was the case with the Kentucky Association of Medical Instrumentation (KAMI). Creating a biomed association is one thing but organizing and launching its first symposium is another major step.
The association was started in early 2010 when Patrick “Pat” Lynch started traveling to Kentucky and meeting with several HTM managers of local shops gauge interest in a biomed association. Lynch’s involvement also helped shorten the learning curve.
From its beginnings more than nine years ago, the organization has found its footing and serves the state’s biomed community, as well as others.
“KAMI has three pillars of concern which are education, networking and community outreach,” says Tom Bledsoe, KAMI president.
“We are connected in a couple ways to our local community. First, we have a local non-profit called Supplies Over Seas (S.O.S.) that supplies slightly used equipment and other supplies to needy countries throughout the world. There are volunteer opportunities twice a month for testing biomedical equipment for safety and function, sorting the medical supplies and packing the crates in preparation for shipping,” he says.
Bledsoe says that KAMI is also associated with local colleges. The group hopes to build on these relationships to promote and grow the HTM career field.
“The institutions are MedQuest College, University of Louisville through their BMES group of engineering students and Madisonville Community College. We have faculty and students that are active members of our association and on the board of directors as well,” Bledsoe says.
He says that KAMI is also involved in starting and growing the Nicaragua Biomedical Association.
In the recent past, the group has held quarterly meetings. One of the challenges of being a statewide organization has been where to hold meetings.
“We try to move around the state of Kentucky and have interesting meeting content to help draw engineers to educational and networking opportunities. We are now switching to three quarterly meetings and this new annual HTM Symposium,” Bledsoe says.
“We have a technology and social media committee that is working on telecasting portions of our meetings. I think it’s more important to record and have the content available online for viewing at a later date or go back and view it several times if it’s a subject that has some interest to you,” he adds.
The group’s meetings can be informative and educational.
“Our last meeting included a roundtable discussion of ECRI’s top 10 safety hazards. It was a very engaging and lively discussion between the panel and general membership. Some of the panel members included nurses and managers of hospital departments as well as HTM engineers and managers,” Bledsoe says.
Some biomed associations try to offer scholarships, while some have found other ways to help introduce students to the profession.
“We do not currently have a scholarship program, but do plan on having a special meeting for students or members interesting in CBET, CRES or other certifications,” Bledsoe says.
He says that KAMI will look into ways to financially assist those in need as the group grows.
“This will be an important way to grow both our association and the HTM field in general,” Bledsoe says.
Bringing Together a Working Symposium
The inaugural KAMI healthcare technology symposium kicks off November 9, 2019 at the historic Boone Tavern Inn in Berea, Kentucky.
“This will be the first symposium or annual meeting in our history. It will be November 9 and 10, 2019. I am so proud of how hard the KAMI board is working to pull this together. Some of our board members are vendors that travel to other national shows and can use their experiences and contacts to improve our event,” Bledsoe says.
He says they are using feedback from members of other local associations and attending their annual meetings to gain important contacts and other crucial information.
“A side benefit is that it has been a real team building project. I feel it has united our board of directors. By the way, it also has been a lot of fun,” Bledsoe says.
The Boone Tavern Inn is a special venue.
“The hotel is on the national historic registry and we are so excited to present this conference to our members and host our special guests. We will have educational presentations, breakout sessions for HTM engineers as well as some sessions focused on management teams and other decision makers in our HTM family,” Bledsoe says.
The symposium will kick off with a reverse expo on Friday afternoon and a vendor appreciation murder mystery dinner on Friday evening.
“Our main focus items are education, networking and of course; fun,” he adds.
A challenge, and mandate, for all biomed associations is to find creative ways to help offset the large number of baby boomer generation HTM professionals who are retiring or who have already retired.
“In a couple of ways, we are reaching out to the younger population for growth,” Bledsoe says.
“First, as mentioned previously, our strong connection to local colleges who are active members. Keeping them involved in the board and planning committees, I feel keeps them engaged and networking with HTM professionals gives them insight on their career path,” he says.
“Secondly, we are forming a committee to work with MedQuest College, that as a team will visit local middle and high schools for career days or special events to help promote HTM as a rewarding profession. We plan on giving a PowerPoint presentation and live demonstrations with medical equipment and some of the high-tech equipment that exists in hospital equipment in hospital environments today,” Bledsoe adds.
The bluegrass state has a well-organized statewide HTM organization and now that organization has accomplished a major milestone in launching its first symposium. It should provide even more incentive for a new generation of biomeds to join the group’s ranks.
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