In the biomed community there are several skill sets that will make a person stand out from the crowd: organizational skills, troubleshooting, mechanical, knowledge with computers, punctuality, etc. But the one set of skills that are most often overlooked, and the hardest to teach in a classroom environment, are “soft skills” or “interpersonal skills.” Interpersonal skills are the life skills we use every day to communicate and interact with other people, both individually and in groups.
These are as necessary to your career advancement as any of the other skills mentioned. Being able to communicate on issues to a nurse in a rushed environment and keep your cool is essential in separating yourself from the rest of the HTM professionals. Sometimes all it takes to escalate a tense situation is something as small as the expression on your face or your body language.
As a technician you need to keep your audience in mind when explaining an issue. Very few nurses or doctors will want a long drawn out technical explanation of an issue. All they want to know is, “Can you fix it?” By being brief and to the point, we can often ease a tense situation.
One time in particular, I was called into surgery with a child on the table. As soon as I walked into the surgical suite the doctor started to berate me and let me know, in no uncertain terms, that he was not happy that the monitor was not working. I calmly let him know, “I understand and I’m here to help.” I proceeded to find and fix the issue (the monitor had become unplugged). Later that day, the doctor sought me out and apologized for his outburst. He stated that it was my calm demeanor that made the difference and he thanked me for my work. He let me know that it takes a team and the work we do as biomeds has an impact on patient care. I will never forget that.
Another phrase often thrown around is “networking.” No, I am not referring to computer networks. I am talking about people networking.
It doesn’t matter how great a technician you are, or how well you know how to troubleshoot down to the component level, what people remember is how you handled yourself and how they were treated. It’s not only about fixing the equipment but also fixing the customer. If you really want to advance your career, keep this in mind at all times: You never know who your next client will be, or your next manager, or better yet, who you will be talking to at your next job interview. Always treat others with respect and dignity, as you would want to be treated. Because at the end of the day, your job really may depend on it.
I will end with an example.
I know of a person that I worked with when I was a Tech 1. He was the first one in the organization to pass his CBET. He was soon promoted to Tech 2, much to the chagrin of his fellow techs. One other tech and I were the only two people in our shop who congratulated this young man and we were truly happy for his accomplishment. It inspired both of us to study and pass our CBET also. We went on to become friends. Long story short, he is now the manager of a clinical engineering shop with 20 technicians at a major hospital in Fort Worth Texas, and a customer of mine.
The moral of the story is, “Be nice to everyone, because you never know how things will work out.”
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