By George Hampton
There’s no way to sugarcoat it: The healthcare technology management (HTM) field is desperate for new blood. The shrinking HTM workforce is a growing problem.
Today’s HTM field is an aging and shrinking workforce. It’s predicted we will lose 20 percent of our workforce to retirement in just the next 5 years. We need to fill about 8,000 jobs just to remain at our current levels, which unfortunately are not meeting current demand. This data does not take into consideration the predictions we also will see significant growth in healthcare technology over the same time period – meaning even more HTM professionals are needed to keep up.
What’s the answer? It’s taking action – now – to engage more young people in the HTM field.
Getting Young People Excited About HTM
I recently spoke to my nephew, who just graduated from college with a degree in electrical engineering and a minor in software programming. I asked him how his job hunting was going. His response: “Horribly!” He said he’s finding he’s either too educated or under-qualified for the jobs he’s looking into.
I asked my nephew if he ever considered doing what I do, work in HTM – a career I’ve enjoyed for more than three decades. He didn’t even know what HTM was. By and large, many people just don’t know much about this business. We are going to be in real trouble if we don’t change that. And fast.
I went on to tell my nephew about the industry I love so much, and the opportunity to actually help people. I was able to sincerely suggest my nephew give clinical engineering a try, because I know from experience it is a great career choice. I felt like the conversation gave him hope and a level of excitement about something he previously knew nothing about.
Solving the Challenge of the HTM Workforce
To solve the challenge of the shrinking HTM workforce, we need to change. And we need to change quickly.
I believe there are 2 options:
Organizations like AAMI are ready to join in this effort by providing sample curriculum to illustrate what would be required from a course program to enter our field. I suspect some high school students think a four-year degree is required and might not feel inclined, or have the money, to pursue such a degree. Removing that misperception, providing some guidance on what programs are available and illustrating the reasonable cost of those programs could make a huge difference in creating a new supply of candidates.
It is my hope we take action quickly to begin to explore these options. There is real hope and opportunity to engage the up-and-coming Generation Z. Gen Z is focused on authenticity and is looking for jobs that are purpose-driven. I can’t think of a better purpose than helping support the health care providers who are helping people live longer, better lives.
I believe the best technicians have qualities that don’t come exclusively from the structure or extent of their education – like compassion, motivation, leadership, curiosity, engagement and a genuine interest to make a difference in the lives of others. Let’s make it a top priority to bring greater awareness to the opportunities in healthcare technology management, put training opportunities in place and invite more young people to choose HTM as a rewarding and fulfilling career.
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