TechNation recently contacted a variety of healthcare technology management (HTM) professionals and educators to find out more about education and certification opportunities. HTM departments continue to seek quality applicants as more and more experienced biomeds retire. We quizzed the panel about education opportunities and asked them to share their thoughts on the different certifications.
The following roundtable discussion includes insights from College of Biomedical Equipment Technology’s Bill Bassuk, Vice President of MD Publishing Kristin Leavoy, Penn State New Kensington Assistant Teaching Professor and Biomedical Engineering Technology Program Coordinator Joie Marhefka, AAMI Director of Education Martin J. McLaughlin and Cincinnati State Technical and Community College Professor Emeritus Steven J. Yelton, P.E.
Q: What level or type of education do you recommend for an individual interested in pursuing a career in healthcare technology management (HTM)?
Bassuk: As an HTM professional and educator, I recommend formal education directly related to our field from accredited institutions, including military training, technical schools and colleges. To transition from technician to manager or director, HTM professionals should consider pursuing a Bachelor of Science in a related field. Senior leaders in the industry should consider obtaining a Master of Business Administration. Education, matched with an array of diverse technical and business experiences in HTM, are critical to career success.
Leavoy: An HTM career can begin with a two-year or four-year degree as well as with military training. Some individuals enter the professional ranks after an apprenticeship. The most important aspect of the education is that it be quality education with hands-on training whenever possible.
Marhefka: I think it depends on the career path that you are looking to pursue. If you are interested in a career as a biomed – maintaining, troubleshooting and repairing medical equipment – an associate degree will give you the education and skills necessary to be successful. This, of course, is the path I am most familiar with as I teach in an associate degree program. I know that the military training also is an excellent preparation for a career as a biomed. If you are interested in doing more project management in clinical engineering or in supervising biomeds, then a bachelor’s (and possibly an advanced degree) would be helpful.
McLaughlin: While there are many different pathways into the HTM field to start, the recommended amount of education for an entry-level BMET would be a two-year degree and clinical engineers should have a four-year engineering degree. To move up within a health care system, however, HTM professionals should obtain higher levels of education beyond a four-year bachelor’s. Hospital executives often hold multiple graduate degrees and in order for HTM professionals to move into those types of positions, their education levels must match that of their peers.
Yelton: I feel that it is possible to enter the HTM career field with an internship or military training. I would strongly suggest that the individual continue their education with a minimum of an associate degree. From there, depending on the individual’s career goals, I would recommend continuing their education with a bachelor’s degree and a certification.
Q: Which certification(s) do you encourage HTM professionals to obtain and why?
Bassuk: The industry is rapidly evolving toward a highly technical, networked, Internet of Things (IoT) field. Traditional education opportunities are fundamental, including certificate and degree paths. Similarly, obtaining professional certifications such as CBET and CHTM remain important features of a successful career path. However, we believe the trend toward networked devices and systems is driving change and are encouraging our students to seek advanced networking and IT certifications to enhance their professional skills and knowledge as we move into the health care environment of the future.
Leavoy: Certifications, while not necessary, add value to an HTM professional’s ability to market themselves. An HTM professional with a certification does not necessarily have more experience than someone without a certification, but a certification is something that can be listed on a resume for instant credibility and to set a candidate apart from others being considered for the same job opening.
Marhefka: I encourage HTM professionals to pursue CBET certification, as it demonstrates commitment to your career, shows that you have met certain standards and shows that you are willing to continue learning through continuing education. I also recommend networking certifications as so much of today’s medical equipment is connected to the hospital’s network.
McLaughlin: Certifications within the HTM field are great ways for professionals to stand out among their peers. ACI’s CBET, CRES and CHTM credentials show devotion to the field, dedication to professional development and a level of knowledge that meets the minimum competency to perform the job that the designation is aligned with. Outside of ACI certifications, project management and IT related programs will make any professional better at their job and should be strongly encouraged in the HTM field.
Yelton: The certification that the HTM professional should pursue in my opinion would depend on their job. If they are a technician, I would recommend the CBET or CRES. If the individual is currently in a management position, I would recommend the CHTM certification. Many of our students pursue A+ or networking certifications to complement their education.
Q: What are some ways HTM professionals can continue their education?
Bassuk: One of the best sources of continuing education is the nationwide network of professional associations and mentor groups available to HTM professionals. As the director of the college, I have the privilege of working with many of them, including organizations like the Kentucky Association of Medical Instrumentation (KAMI) and leaders like Tom Bledsoe who are passionate about guiding and mentoring the next generation of HTM professionals.
Leavoy: Our industry is quite fortunate to have not just one, but three annual conferences offered to a national audience on a yearly basis. The bi-annual MD Expo and the annual AAMI Exchange are great resources for HTM professionals. The education offered at these events is unparalleled. In turn, the free webinars offered by the Webinar Wednesday series are an amazing tool for professionals to stay abreast of the latest trends and best practices when the opportunity isn’t afforded to attend a national conference.
Marhefka: There are a number of ways HTM professionals can continue their educations. Advanced degrees – in HTM, IT, engineering, business or other fields – and certification are two that we’ve already discussed. Manufacturer’s service schools are great to further technical skills. Attending conferences, participating in webinars and reading technical publications are good ways to keep up with the latest trends and developments in the industry. I also believe that teaching is the best way to learn – so if you are able to teach a course at a local school, give guest lectures to students or share your knowledge with colleagues, that is also an excellent way to continue learning.
McLaughlin: As a representative for ACI, I encourage our certified individuals to reach out to their local or state HTM society for upcoming meetings, conferences or other education opportunities. For in-person education opportunities, the AAMI Exchange and MD Expo are events that all HTM professionals should attend to ensure they are receiving the most trusted and timely education the industry has to offer. For those who don’t have the time or funds to travel for an in-person event, we recommend the live and recorded webinars from both AAMI and TechNation. The webinars are great ways for professionals to stay on top of their education for free, while juggling their own busy schedules.
Yelton: I would recommend an AAMI membership where they can take advantage of online and in-person continuing education opportunities. I would also recommend participation in a local HTM association where there are meetings with speakers, etc. An obvious choice would be course work at a local college and manufacturer’s training classes.
Q: What are the pros and cons of certification?
Bassuk: There are not many cons associated with continuing education and professional development. At the College of Biomedical Equipment Technology, we encourage our students to consider seeking specialized training and certification. The professionalization of our industry demands healthcare technology managers and technicians with both experience and education – including formal education and advanced and specialty certifications.
Leavoy: No professional certification is easy to attain, but that accomplishment shows the dedication one has to their field. Without a doubt, the time and effort committed to earning a certification is a worthy endeavor.
Marhefka: I recommend certification because it demonstrates a commitment to your work. It shows that you have certain knowledge and skills and that you are active in continuing education. Other pros of certification are that, in many cases, employers will pay more if you are certified, and having certifications on your resume can help you to stand out. I don’t see many cons, outside of the cost and time commitment.
McLaughlin: Within the HTM field, certification is not a universally mandated requirement for technicians. Some hospitals and organizations don’t promote it, making it seem unnecessary for those HTM employees. What this does is place the initial onus on the individual to earn a certification that will spotlight their value to their employer and potential employers. Many hospitals and ISOs have stepped up to make ACI certification an internal requirement for employment after seeing the direct impact it has on lowering costs, improving recruitment and maintaining a strong HTM team. In the end, certification is about the individual who earns it and should be something that an HTM professional does to showcase their skills and grow as a professional.
Yelton: There are many pros of certification. Certification not only shows a level of expertise in your field, it also shows that you have the initiative to advance yourself professionally. I have found that even if an individual decides to switch fields, the fact that they possess a certification shows that they have the drive to advance themselves professionally. I honestly
do not see any cons to certification.
Q: What else do you think TechNation readers need to know about HTM education and certifications?
Bassuk: We are fortunate to work in an industry so heavily invested in education and professional development. A formal education is the bedrock of a strong and successful career. Certifications and specialty training augment formal education and experience and open doors to HTM professionals that might otherwise remain closed. For BMET and HTM professionals developing their career paths, we encourage them to seek all three – formal education, certifications and a wide array of experiences.
Leavoy: All HTM professionals are invited to start a FREE subscription to TechNation at 1TechNation.com so that you can stay informed about your industry and peers. I also highly encourage readers to visit WebinarWednesday.Live to explore the library of hundreds of past webinars as well as a calendar of upcoming presentations. We welcome the opportunity to meet our readers in person at the MD Expo held twice-a-year. The next MD Expo is scheduled to be held in Irvine, California this July. The fall conference will be held this November in Tampa, Florida. For more information about this free conference for hospital employees, students and members of the military, visit MDExpoShow.com.
Marhefka: I recommend that everyone take advantage of any opportunities that are available to keep learning throughout your career and life.
Yelton: I think TechNation readers should investigate non-traditional HTM education. There are more online opportunities and remote learning opportunities available. I feel that they should become active in professional societies such as AAMI, ASHE, HIMMS, etc. depending on their job. These organizations are working hard to provide educational opportunities for members. As far as certifications, I feel that readers should pursue certifications. It not only helps you stay current in your field, but it will provide you with a credential that will set you apart from the person who chooses not to become certified.
*By entering your email address, you agree to receive emails regarding TechNation Magazine, Webinars, and Exclusive Promos.
© 2020, TechNation Magazine. Site designed by MD Publishing, Inc.