By Steven J. Yelton
I’m in a unique position right now where I am working on “both sides of the desk.” I am teaching HTM courses at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College and working as a senior consultant for a large hospital network in Cincinnati. In both positions, we are huge proponents of cooperative education (co-op) and internships for HTM students. In fact, students must have cooperative education to graduate and to get hired full time. The other common preference and recommendation is that the student have two full semesters of related cooperative education experience. That is not to say that the student must have two semesters to graduate, but it is preferred.
Our college’s requirement is one semester of full-time cooperative education to graduate. The hospitals in our area prefer graduates have two semesters of related cooperative education or internships to become hired full time. Again, that is not carved in stone but only because they may not have available candidates with two semesters of co-op. We are having a hard time getting enough students who are available for co-op positions.
I should also mention that in our case, the co-op positions are paid positions that generally start in the $10 to $15 an hour range. We are still having a difficult time recruiting students for co-op positions. This is largely because many of our students are non-traditional and need to be employed full time with benefits not just every other semester as co-op students.
Hospitals in our area are trying many tactics to fill co-op positions when there are no available students. One tactic is to hire people with an electronics degree as temps. The employee is then trained to perform some less complicated biomedical tasks. This is not the optimal arrangement, but employers are getting desperate for co-op students and interns. The exceptional temps may be considered for full time positions. The temps are also being encouraged to return to college to take HTM courses. Some good news is that some hospital human resources departments are doing compensation studies for HTM positions.
An interesting twist in this story is how some students have changed their way of thinking. At Cincinnati State, we have great working relationships with local hospitals. Many of the technicians at these hospitals have graduated from the Cincinnati State HTM program. They have a great affinity for the program. Very early in the HTM program, we have our instrumentation class meet at hospitals and speak with technicians there. I very often hear my students say how impressed they are with the technicians.
Recently a student told me there was no way that he could do a co-op. Just this past week, he came to me to say that after our recent hospital visit he was going to do whatever it takes to co-op. I felt this is great because I know that this will virtually assure him a really good position upon graduation. I asked what changed his mind. He told me that the technicians at the hospital seemed to love what they were doing and he knew that it would be worth whatever it took for him to get to that place in his career. I think he made a wise decision. With my educator hat on, I am blessed to have such a great group of HTM professionals that support me. To them, I am very thankful.
This is just another example how educators and employers working together can begin to overcome the need for HTM professionals. I have to take this opportunity to thank everyone in the HTM field who spread the word for HTM. It helps more than you know and you are helping shape people’s lives as they venture into our field.
A quick update of AAMI resources; AAMI’s education department is currently offering a CBET review course which has had great response from HTMs. The AAMI Foundation continues to offer scholarships to aspiring HTM technicians and engineers. The Healthcare Technology Accreditation Committee (HTAC) is continuing its work on accreditation criteria and guidance documents for educators. I encourage all of you to continue your support of HTM programs, prospective HTM professionals and invite you to take advantage of AAMI’s offerings.
Steven J. Yelton, P.E., CHTM; is a senior consultant for HTM in Cincinnati, Ohio and is a professor at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College where he teaches biomedical instrumentation courses. He is the Secretary-Treasurer of AAMI’s Board of Directors, AAMI’s Foundation Board of Directors, Chair of AAMI’s Technology Management Council (TMC), Chair of AAMI’s HTAC Committee and is a member of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), Board of Delegates.
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