In a previous issue of TechNation, I wrote about the AAMI Core Curriculum project and the conundrum of implementing such a program. I asked if anyone had a solution. Well, either no one read the article (doubtful) or no one had any useful strategies to teach all the information in the Core Curriculum project. However, after writing the last article, I was amazed at how much of the information from the core curriculum project was already being covered in the many program courses taught in the current program of study. I’m sure many BMET program directors struggle with how to teach all the information in the core curriculum project.
Another area of difficulty in the educational realm of biomedical technology is providing students with hands-on experience with the different technologies. Everyone reading this article knows of the high cost of medical equipment in today’s healthcare system. Imagine spending that kind of money on a piece of equipment and having no real way to recoup the expense of new equipment purchases. A hospital will be billing patients for the use of the technology to provide a return on the investment. One could argue the educational system can pay for investments in educational materials with tuition payments. However, the repayment rate from an insurance company to a service provider would be considerably more than what could be collected from a student for a learning experience, and rightfully so. But, how does an educational institution provide state-of-the-art education on a technology that costs much more than a budget can afford?
A good example of this problem would be teaching the technology of anesthesia. A new anesthesia machine can run between $15,000 and $50,000 depending on many different factors. These prices would only cover the machine and not all the consumables that would be needed to operate the equipment. So, if a BMET program teaches this technology with a new piece of equipment and you had one unit for every 5-6 students and a program of 20 students you can see that the outlay of money could be upwards of $60,000 with the least expensive units. These prices only cover the equipment and not the expensive test equipment needed to service the technology. I can’t speak for other programs in the country, but I know my equipment budget per year is only a couple thousand dollars. Usually the budget is about $5,000 a year and must cover the program’s many needs.
Implementing AAMI’s new core curriculum standards is not only a challenge in covering the many areas of knowledge a graduate needs to possess for entry-level employment, but it is also a challenge for the educational institutions to pay for the technologies that need to be taught. I can only assume most public institutions or nonprofit institutions are in the same predicament as I am when it comes to budgets and student learning outcomes. I would also assume the program directors of BMET programs across the country rely on help from many avenues to fill in the gaps between budgets and student learning goals.
So, how do programs obtain the newer technologies to teach with such limited budgets? This is an area where the readers of TechNation can help replenish the ranks with competent graduates. I know I have many resources that help the Caldwell Community College program teach newer technologies with newer equipment. Past graduates from the program keep me informed about equipment their facility may have which could be donated or sold at a very reasonable price. I believe this is an area where everyone can help programs across the nation. I strongly urge each of you to keep in mind the many BMET programs and help them secure equipment that may be used for hands-on instruction in the laboratory setting. Having the latest and greatest in medical instrumentation would be wonderful to teach on, but not budget feasible. With the help of past graduates and other professionals in the HTM field, many programs in the country will be helped in providing the very best educational experience with actual equipment a student may see once they begin their career.
I’m extremely pleased and grateful for the help I receive in securing medical devices from either former students or other concerned individuals and organizations with a vested interest in having competent technicians in the HTM field. So, I remind each TechNation reader that you too can become instrumental in providing opportunities for students wishing to embark into the exciting field of healthcare technology management by providing equipment for experiential learning opportunities. This act alone will help ensure we replenish the ranks in this career field with technicians who have been exposed to newer technologies and have the skills to navigate a HTM career.
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