Maggie Berkey, CBET, checks a medical device at Good Samaritan Hospital.
Many of the healthcare technology management (HTM) professionals highlighted in the Professional of the Month feature are already well known to their departments, hospitals or even entire health systems. It is less common that they are already familiar to the entire HTM community before being featured.
In the case of Maggie Berkey, CBET, who was recognized with the 2021 AAMI & GE Healthcare BMET of the Year Award and is the visionary behind AAMI’s BMET Apprenticeship Program, an introduction is not necessary.
Berkey is a senior BMET in the clinical engineering department at CommonSpirit Health’s Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney, Nebraska. She is also a member of AAMI’s Technology Management Council (TMC).
Long before the national honor, Berkey had been one of those biomeds who took a circuitous route into the profession.
“In a roundabout way, I would say it was my mom. She had pushed me to enter into what was, at the time, an up-and-coming male-dominated industry of laser technology. Not long after I started in that career field, the attacks on the twin towers caused mass layoffs that shut down most of the opportunities to thrive,” Berkey remembers.
She says that several years later, her husband questioned why they were paying for a degree that she wasn’t even using.
“With two electronic-equivalent associate degrees under my belt, my alma mater offered a one-year BMET specific degree. Honestly, I had no idea what I was getting into. Today I look at our industry as a hidden gem. Unfortunately, being a best kept secret has contributed to the struggle to recruit talent in HTM,” Berkey says.
“I graduated from Southeast Technical Institute (STI) in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which is about an hour away from my hometown. I earned an AAS in laser electro optics technology (LEOT) in 2000, then my AAS in biomed (BMET) in 2009. Both programs have since closed their doors, but not before providing a foundation for my continued and ongoing education,” Berkey adds.
Berkey came up with the internship program idea in 2019 and presented it at the AAMI eXchange that year. She saw it through to earning Department of Labor approval. This was just one notable project and challenge of many that she has tackled.
“I am fortunate to have been a part of many interesting and unique challenges during my career. One highlight from my career is definitely the BMET apprenticeship, which involved numerous partnerships spanning over the last 11 years,” Berkey says.
She adds that the idea was built from a culmination of experiences starting back at the University of Minnesota Medical Center-Fairview.
“I had a good internship experience in technical school, so when I noticed a couple of interns not getting out of the shop much or showing up during projects that pigeon-holed them to an extent, I mentioned it to my first HTM leader, Vickie Snyder. The document that our team created to ensure interns had a variety of experiences was the beginning of what eventually became the foundation of the work process schedule and competency guide for the Department of Labor BMET Apprenticeship,” Berkey explains.
She says that during her later years with Fairview, she was tasked with wearing numerous hats, including being a project liaison for the University of Minnesota Clinics and Surgery Center.
“The nearly 350,000-square-foot clinic opened in 2016, and I was able to provide input and expertise to make the project a success. Another opportunity for improvement, identified during my tenure with St. Cloud Technical and Community College (SCTCC), was to improve on the existing curriculum, as well as partner with the St. Cloud State University College of Nursing. We created a collaborative that benefited BMET students and the nursing school alike,” Berkey says.
There are details about the project in an article published in the January 2019 issue of the Journal of Clinical Engineering. The story is titled “Creating a Mock Environment for the Real World.”
“While writing curriculum for SCTCC, I took the internship guide created at Fairview and built it into a graded expectation metric for BMET students’ internships. After moving west to be closer to our daughter and grandson, a conversation with our district manager propelled the idea of building a tech from scratch while learning on the job,” Berkey adds.
Berkey has had many great experiences that have cemented her commitment to the HTM field; it’s past and future.
“There have been a few things during my career that I consider noteworthy including ‘winning’ a trip to AAMI’s Future Forum III, where I got to meet some really neat people including George Mills. I remember thinking what a down to earth guy he was, which made me willing to invite him to speak at our local biomed association conference when I served as vice president of the North Central Biomed Association (NCBA),” Berkey says.
She says that she also met many other really interesting and “kind souls” like Karen Waninger and Steve Campbell.
When not at work, Berkey spends her free time with her children, family and friends.
“We have a fairly large and growing family. I have five children and a second grandson coming in July. I feel blessed to have seven siblings and my parents, as well as in-laws, extended, and adopted family to spend holidays and free time with,” Berkey says.
“I enjoy taking walks with my husband and contributing whatever I can to the ongoing success of the HTM field,” she adds.
How would Berkey characterize her approach to life?
“I am just an average girl that looks for opportunities to make the world around me a little better each day. My number one focus is spending as much time as possible with my family and friends. I know how precious time is; I thank my kids in their 20s for that gift,” she says.
She has embraced the concept of being a change agent and taking a proactive approach to improving things.
“I used to worry a lot about what people thought of me or what they might think if I threw out an idea that was dumb, but now I understand that if I don’t ask questions, investigate further or try to figure out how to make something better; things will just stay ‘broken.’ I can choose to be the change I want to see or whine and complain about the way things are. Let’s face it, life is pretty interesting when you slow down and enjoy the ride,” Berkey says.
With people like Berkey in the HTM profession, there is reason for optimism.
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