The city of Los Angeles is California’s largest city and California is the worlds eight largest economy. It is home to UCLA and much of the American film industry. Among the population of the surrounding Los Angeles County are an estimated 325,000 military veterans.
According to a study conducted by the USC School of Social Work, “Twenty-four percent of post-9/11 veterans and 19 percent of pre-9/11 veterans, indicated severe physical health symptoms.”
Addressing these health concerns and others in the Los Angeles area is the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, which provides services to Veterans in Southern California and Southern Nevada. It is one of the largest health care facilities within the VA.
To support the management of all of the medical equipment in this large facility is a biomedical department headed up by Arif Subhan, MS, CCE, FACCE, chief biomedical engineer.
Subhan first became interested in the HTM profession through a series of family experiences and educational pursuits.
“I was interested in pursuing a career in medicine as a young child. Both of my parents and two of my elder brothers were doctors, so I heard stories about their work told around the kitchen table. When I was older, I enjoyed visits to the hospital and the medical school with my father, who later in his career became a hospital director and a medical school administrator,” Subhan remembers.
Those family stories and the hospital environment proved to be very exciting to Subhan. But; destiny would lead him in a slightly different direction.
“I seriously considered a career as a doctor for most of my boyhood. As a young child, I developed a talent for mathematics, and someone in the family suggested that I should consider becoming an engineer,” he says.
“Without much guidance, as I was the first in the family to pursue a career in engineering, I attended an engineering school. In my senior year, one my professors introduced me to the articles in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Transactions in Biomedical Engineering. These articles brought together my childhood interest in medicine with my current major in electrical engineering and led me to do a senior project related to biomedical engineering. This led me to a career in biomedical engineering,” Subhan adds.
Education and training to prepare him for this new career was geographically varied and comprehensive.
“I pursued graduate studies in biomedical/clinical engineering at the University of Surrey, England and Drexel University. Additionally, I completed an internship in clinical engineering at Aga Khan University Hospital and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Also, I obtained Certification in Clinical Engineering (CCE),” Subhan says.
In addition to the education and training, Subhan accumulated an extensive amount of on-the-job experience.
“I worked as a clinical engineer and later as senior clinical engineer for Masterplan (an independent service organization that managed medical equipment across the U.S.). I was the chief biomedical engineer at VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Healthcare System and South Texas Veterans Health Care System,” he says.
Subhan and his department have been involved in many medical equipment installation projects including clinical information system (CIS), imaging equipment projects (CT scanner, a single-plane GI unit, one IR suite, one PET/CT, two mammography units, and one tomotherapy unit), multiple network integration projects, various new equipment installs in surgery, cardiology, laboratory, pharmacy and ophthalmology and an emodel of the emergency department.
Active in the Field
Professionally, he has been very active in the field and held several positions, including columnist for the Journal of Clinical Engineering (JCE) and a member of several editorial boards.
“I have been a member of the American College of Clinical Engineering (ACCE) Board for a long time and am currently the president of ACCE,” Subhan says.
“Also, I served as the Chair, United States Certification Commission; Chair, ACCE Education Committee; Chair, ACCE BOK Committee; and Co-Chair, AAMI Annual Conference Program Committee,” he adds.
On the recognition front, Subhan has garnered some prestigious awards, including the ACCE Professional Development/Managerial Excellence Award in 2013 and the AAMI Clinical/Biomedical Engineering Achievement Award in 2012. He is a Fellow of the American College of Clinical Engineering (ACCE).
Subhan’s wife is a health care architect and his two daughters attend UCLA.
It has been a long road from stories around the dinner table to heading a busy biomedical department responsible for millions of dollars of medical equipment. Subhan does it all with mathematical precision.
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