By K. Richard Douglas
Italy invokes romantic images of gondola rides and sipping wine in Tuscany. The country’s capital and most populous city is Rome. The city of Rome was founded in the mid-8th century and saw Julius Caesar rise to power and later Augustus. Christianity eventually took hold in the city and centuries later; the art of the Renaissance and Baroque periods adorn the city.
For 2019, Rome was host to the third International Clinical Engineering and Health Technology Management Congress (ICEHTMC) in October. Previous congresses were held in Hangzhou, China and Sao Paulo, Brazil. The congress is organized by the Clinical Engineering Division of The International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering (IFMBE). The event took place at the A. Gemelli Europa Conference Center on the campus of the Faculty of Medicine of the University Cattolica del Sacro Cuore of Rome.
One of the congress’s U.S. attendees was second-year University of Connecticut (UConn) Clinical Engineering Internship Program master’s student Rebecca “Shasha” Graves. She is doing her internship through the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.
Graves attended the event as a recipient of a young professional grant, which covered her registration and hotel stay.
“I first learned about the ICEHTMC from an email from the former program director of the UConn Clinical Engineering Internship Program, Frank Painter. Last June, I had the opportunity to attend sessions from presenters from around the world at the AAMI conference in Cleveland. It opened my eyes to universal challenges, the way different countries’ standards/regulations impact the field in respective countries, and the different approaches people take to address those challenges,” Graves says.
She says that ICEHTMC seemed like a great opportunity to continue to learn about what is happening in the field across the globe.
“When this opportunity came up, I actively searched to figure out how to make attending this conference a reality,” she says.
The conference venue was a fitting location for a gathering focused on health care.
“The building was marvelous and having the backdrop of the conference be a medical school in Rome was special,” Graves says.
Worldwide Gathering of Engineers
Graves is enthusiastic about the global nature of the gathering and the quality content that was available for attendees.
“The energy of the conference was palpable. I am so glad I had the opportunity to go. While there, it was hard to decide which sessions to attend because they all sounded interesting. Overall, I found the content very thought provoking. Friends and coworkers probably got tired of hearing me talk about it,” Graves says.
She says it was great to hear about the innovative approaches people were taking to address problems and improve processes.
“As a student in the UConn Clinical Engineering Internship Program, I am constantly making connections between material in my classes and my experience in the Biomedical Engineering Department at the VA Greater Los Angeles, and vice versa. It was fun to do that at ICEHTMC as well,” she says.
“For example, this semester I am taking a course on human errors and medical device accidents. We spent a week learning about electrosurgical units and accidents related to them. While at the conference, there was a workshop on electrosurgical units where they went in depth on how they work and also on how to communicate this information to ensure safe usage to prevent accidents,” Graves says.
She says it was neat to have people from all over the world under one roof.
“During down time/lunch time/in between sessions/on the shuttle going from the hotel to the site of congress, I had the opportunity to meet people in every stage of their career, learn about the projects they’re working on, the challenges they face, how they got involved in the field, how responsibilities vary, got advice from more experienced people about what they recommend for someone starting out in the field, etcetera. Also met a lot of young people in a similar place that I’m in and the energy that they bring makes me excited for the field,” she adds.
Graves was able to take in some of the world-renowned architecture, art and statuary in the Eternal City. It was a trip to remember.
“I extended my trip to last the whole week. It was my first time going to Italy, and Europe as a whole. I utilized ground transportation and found it very easy to get around,” Graves says.
“I was able to fit in quite a bit of sightseeing. ICEHTMC notified us of the papal audience the following morning after the conference and that was a very memorable experience. Hearing welcoming speeches in many different languages and crowds of people so excited to catch a glimpse at the Pope,” Graves says.
She says that following the papal audience, she visited St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.
“Breathtaking; it was fun to learn about the history and fun details/anecdotes about each. While in Rome, I also visited the Colosseum, the Forum and Palatine Hill. I did a day trip to Ostia Antica,” Graves says.
She says that growing up in New England, where the oldest buildings are 200-plus years old, there was something extra cool about walking around 2,000-plus year-old ruins and just being around so much history throughout the whole time in Rome.
“Back in the city, I spent a lot of time wandering around following the smell of good food, the sound of people and music. Ate lots of delicious food throughout the week,” Graves adds.
Back in L.A., Graves returned to her duties as an intern at the Los Angeles VA, as a participant in the UConn Clinical Engineering Internship Program.
“This program offers an in-depth, rigorous, clinical experience that matches the engineering expertise gained in the classroom. My internship component is being completed through the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. The VA GLAHS is one of the largest VA hospitals. We support veterans across the area. We have an MEAV of $140 million. I am involved in a variety of HTM activities from every stage of the technology life cycle, recall management, TJC preparation (we were recently surveyed), etcetera,” Graves says.
With her coast-to-coast clinical engineering program and internship site and her new international experience, Graves will be one well-rounded HTM professional ready for any environment.
For more information on the UConn CE internship program, visit bme.uconn.edu/clinical-engineering.
For more information about the IFMBE, visit ifmbe.org/about-ifmbe.
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