By Abdul Alsaadi
Abdul Alsaadi, PH.DCEO of Medzon
The medical equipment industry is growing rapidly in regard to the enhancement of devices and/or in the design of imaging and biomedical equipment. The engineer responsible for servicing equipment should be trained to perform preventative and corrective maintenance, however, training by itself is not sufficient. Knowledge and hands-on experience plays a vital role in maintaining and sustaining equipment. Hospitals have to be aware of this when purchasing equipment. A manufacturer that requires factory-trained staff to work or maintain medical equipment can cause delays in repairs, increase costs via rentals and risk patient safety due to down time and a lack of equipment.
Hospitals have a variety of equipment, ranging from old to new machines, which facilitate their operations. Older equipment is becoming a challenge to maintain, knowing that parts are difficult to source, and finding an engineer with hands-on experience is even tougher. The hospitals are overlooking the “years of experience’’ of an engineer working on equipment versus training from companies. Health care facilities need to understand the importance of experience, which will entice them into developing training programs to ensure talent. I always stress that no one can buy experience, it is acquired over many years of troubleshooting and taking equipment apart which makes him/her a pioneer. Training is great, it enlightens the engineer with an understanding of how the device works and the steps to perform the preventative maintenance. However, these skills can easily be obtained through years of hands-on experience from similar modalities and understanding the functionality of the equipment.
Education is another part that is somehow overlooked. Usually, biomeds and engineers go to school to get degrees in electronics and electrical engineering which educates them with a fundamental understanding. This practice ensures that technicians have the requisite and basic knowledge on all concepts related to electronics and medical equipment, which is essential to preventing the risk of failure. This insight is taught with both theory and practical labs which introduce the student to several modalities of equipment used in a hospital.
The number of modalities in medical equipment is an uncountable considering all the makes, models and different versions that come out. To have a tech or an engineer be certified on all of them in nearly impossible. The subject that has been rising is whether a tech should work on equipment if he/she is not certified by an OEM. There is a very simple answer. There is not a tech on this planet that is certified on all equipment, it’s just not possible. Hospitals should understand that if a tech does not have factory training on a certain piece of equipment, this doesn’t mean he didn’t work on it before or can’t work on it. In addition, there are some manufacturers that won’t train third-party companies or individuals on their equipment if they’re not employed by them. However, some experienced companies will provide the training and tools to repair and maintain that piece of equipment without specified OEM training through a train-the-trainer approach.
In conclusion, training without having the fundamentals in electronics or hands-on experience is like having a car with no engine. Training by itself is not enough to work as a tech or an engineer in the medical equipment space, education is also an important tool in this process. In addition to training, basic knowledge of medical equipment as well as experience is important for one to be an engineer who works on medical equipment.
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