I’ve written before that AAMI is the lead society within the Technology Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (TAC-ABET). In this role, AAMI helps guide TAC-ABET with items related to the criteria used for accrediting college healthcare technology management (HTM) and similarly named programs. These could be associate or bachelor degree programs. I serve as the chair of AAMI’s Healthcare Technology Accreditation Committee (HTAC). The HTAC makes recommendations for accrediting these healthcare engineering technology (currently referred to by TAC-ABET as bioengineering technology) programs. The HTAC is comprised of educators and industry personnel and recently completed its second annual meeting.
As an update, TAC-ABET has just approved AAMI’s first criteria for HTM Engineering Technology programs. TAC-ABET requires that any changes go out for “public comment” from other professional organizations within TAC-ABET to provide guidance and approval on any proposed changes to HTM programs. We were given some input to our criteria and ultimately attained approval. Until this time, the criteria used for evaluating programs were from the prior lead society. We were very proud to have this criteria approved as we feel it provides a needed update. Programs evaluated in the future will be evaluated under these criteria provided by AAMI.
The HTAC committee in conjunction with AAMI’s various departments has been working to support healthcare engineering technology and similarly named programs with support, discounted AAMI memberships for students and educators, resource materials and related items.
The HTAC committee understands that TAC-ABET is a lofty goal for most programs and many do not have the desire or means to attain this accreditation. That doesn’t mean that these aren’t great programs. Also, these programs want and need direction in improving their curriculums, laboratory experiences, etc. The TAC-ABET criteria for HTM programs are currently available for anyone who wants to use it. The HTAC committee thought that there might be a way that we could help programs that have no desire to attain ABET accreditation and those who may want accreditation in the future, but would like a minimum standard that they could attain.
With this in mind, using criteria from TAC-ABET and the core competencies document produced by AAMI, we are working to produce guidance documents that educational programs could use to stay up to date on what is needed by their constituents and also provide a mechanism for sharing that information. AAMI is also exploring the possibility of incorporating published content such as the core competencies into future AAMI standards documents. Further, the AAMI Educators Discussion Group provides discussions about relevant education related topics and libraries of helpful documents. These documents include curriculums, laboratory exercises as well as related ideas such as how to promote your program.
We continue to have the goal of helping educators as well as employers; students and prospective students evaluate programs. We currently have guidance on curriculum items for two-year associate degree programs and would like to develop more for four-year bachelor degree programs.
In addition to curriculum, guidance is provided within TAC-ABET documents for items that contribute to make a very good program. One item, to which those of you reading this column may contribute, is an industry advisory committee (IAD). I often hear the complaint that “My local program does not stay up with the current needs of the field or is working with an antiquated idea of the needs of the field.”
“Their program needs help.” In that instance, I find that the program in question may not be using their IAD effectively. I ask educators to engage your IAD. Those in the field please get involved in an advisory role with your local college programs. You may be involved as an advisor, a co-operative education or internship employer or maybe an employer who hires graduates. College programs need and will welcome your expertise and involvement.
The HTAC is also looking at ways to be able to provide a base-level credential signifying that an HTM program meets minimum criteria based on nationwide vetting for what constitutes a quality program. These criteria would be designed to be at a much lower level and rigor than the criteria required for TAC-ABET accreditation and act as an entry point for programs. This could be helpful for all programs and could lead those programs that may later pursue the more advanced TAC-ABET accreditation. There would also be guidance documents provided by AAMI and TAC-ABET such as the core competencies that would provide up to date criteria for curriculum.
The HTAC will be reaching out to the educational community in the near future as we pursue these and other ideas to improve HTM education.
Steven J. Yelton, P.E., CHTM; is a senior HTM engineer for The Christ Hospital Health Network in Cincinnati, Ohio and is a professor at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College where he teaches biomedical instrumentation courses. He is the chair-elect of AAMI’s board of directors, chair of the AAMI Foundation board of directors, past 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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