Within the last two years I changed jobs. I had the privilege to start my biomed career 20 years ago as a field service technician at a local X-ray repair shop. It almost ruined my career before it ever got started. But, luckily, I got the opportunity to move to an in-house shop at a hospital. This provided the resources and support to solidify my decision to become a biomed.
Now, after working in the field, I have returned to the school where it all started as an instructor. It was not an easy decision, but one that I am glad I made. As the statement goes, “I have come full circle.” My main goal is teaching the basics. Keep it simple. My students often hear me say, “put your eyes on it.” It is amazing what you see when you simply step back and take in the whole picture.
I learned this through experience and usually learned it the hard way. Numerous times I would dive into the power supply before checking that the power switch was turned off or worse the unit was simply unplugged. I remember a time when I was called to change a collimator bulb in an X-ray unit at a local clinic. I replaced the bulb and still no light. I then proceeded to completely dismantle the collimator into a million pieces. Lets just say after the third day of being down the clinic X-ray tech was not a happy camper. As I was beginning to question my ability as a technician, I noticed a metal box on the wall not far from the collimator. It had the same manufacturer name as the collimator. I also noticed a fuse holder in the top of the metal box. Come to find out that was the power supply for the collimator and the fuse was indeed blown. If I had just opened my eyes a little wider, a three-day job would have been a 10-minute fix.
Instructing students can be a challenging experience, but it is very rewarding when I see the light bulb go off and the learning begins. Using my own experience and training, I try to prepare students for the challenges ahead and the pitfalls to avoid. I try to teach them the acronyms and slang they will hear in a hospital setting. I had no idea what a bovie was the first time I was asked to repair one from surgery. I had a student just recently say what a sense of accomplishment he got from repairing a piece of equipment during his internship at a local hospital. I know that feeling.
Biomeds play an important role in every health care organization. This seems to get overlooked as most of the population does not think of the medical equipment needing repair. But it does and needs repair often. That is why we need quality-trained technicians in the field today. The equipment is becoming more sophisticated but the basics are still there. Knowing how to use your multimeter, how to use the test equipment, and how to read a schematic are just a few of the basics that will be used during a biomed career. But, most importantly, customer service is huge. Treating customers with respect and kindness is vital to this field.
Communication is also important. Let the customers know what is going on during each step of the repair process. Emails, texts, phone calls, smoke signals, anything to inform the customer when the equipment will back up and running.
Back to the basics.
Back to where my career began.
What a fun and rewarding time the past 20 years have been. Being a biomed is great, and I look forward to the next 20 years and helping the next generation of technicians become a valuable asset to health care organizations.
Michael Overcash is a Biomedical Equipment Technology instructor at Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus in Waco, Texas.
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