Over the past 20 years, we have seen the biomedical equipment technician career field evolve. Twenty-seven years ago, when I entered it as a young BMET I, I did not know much about computers, much less stuff about computer networking. The computer class we did take during my two years at Texas State Technical Institute involved learning how to use WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3 and Basic. We did a lot of soldering and desoldering, and component-level troubleshooting was emphasized.
Since coming back to Texas State Technical College as an instructor, we have seen many changes to the curriculum based on recommendations of our advisory committee. Instead of just basic soldering, we now have a shop skills class, since many younger people did not have the exposure to tools and basic shop practices that I did growing up. We now have computer hardware, software, and networking courses, although some of the younger generation students are already very familiar with a lot of the content. Although we do not have a specific course on customer service, “people” skills are reinforced in every course.
A few years ago, I first read about the term “Healthcare Technology Management (HTM)” as being a better descriptor of our career field. As a person who tends to resist change (I bought my first smartphone last year), I balked and thought, it has taken us 40 years to get people to know what a biomedical equipment technician does and now they want to change it. In addition, members of our advisory committee were mentioning things like “project management.” The biomedical equipment technician’s role is definitely evolving and technology management is now a major part of the job for many.
Last week, I had the privilege of reading Binseng Wang’s new book, “Clinical Engineering Financial Management and Benchmarking.” In it, he brings up the point that many entry-level and junior technicians may feel they do not need to know anything about financial management or benchmarking. In fact, many senior technicians and supervisors do not know much about these topics either. However, in order to advance in their professional careers, it is now essential that they learn these things as early in their career as possible.
Reading the book, which is available on Amazon, I realized I do not know much about these topics. When I graduated, all I thought I needed to know was the technical aspects of my career. Thinking back, if I would have known a thing or two about financial management and benchmarking early on it quite possibly could have lead my career in a different direction, possibly making a lot more money, and certainly with a greater understanding of my role in the hospital. For me, the more I learn, the more I realize how much I do not know.
The book is short, but very effective. Using a case study and charts that even a non-financially trained person like me can understand, the light came on for me. Also, if you buy the paperback version, you get a downloadable spreadsheet you can use to experiment with the figures he uses in the case study. And, I agree that we should incorporate a basic understanding of financial management and benchmarking into our curriculum. For now, I plan to implement this into one of the current courses I teach but perhaps very soon, it will be its own course(s).
This book has given me a better understanding of things I probably should have learned a long time ago and I highly recommend it to all HTM professionals, even those at the very beginning of their careers. Having a better understanding of the “big picture” will definitely benefit your career.
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