By Steven J. Yelton, P.E.
As I write this column, I am completing my preparation for the 2022 AAMI Exchange in San Antonio, Texas. I am impressed by all of the resources available to both students and technicians. I believe that the AAMI Exchange is thought of by many in the HTM community as an event for director-level employees and above. This is certainly not true if you take advantage of the opportunities available.
Hopefully you were able to attend the 2022 Exchange and encouraged students and colleagues to attend. I also hope you have the opportunity to support, attend and utilize local HTM societies for educational opportunities and networking.
You may ask, “How could a student possibly afford travel to the AAMI Exchange?” This is certainly a good question. If the Exchange is close in proximity to the school or the student’s home, attendance would be much easier. Students have traditionally taken advantage of this. AAMI makes attendance for students very affordable and this year student registration was $100.
Another fact is that AAMI provided transportation and registration for student scholarship winners. This included the scholarship winners who were not able to attend past Exchanges due to COVID-19 cancellation of the live events. I would ask all of you to encourage any students that you know to apply for scholarships.
In the hospital community, we have tried to find ways to encourage technicians to attend the AAMI conference. One way that was very successful was to allow any technician who was going to sit for a certification exam to attend the AAMI Exchange. This was a win-win for the employer and employee.
With all of that said, the local HTM groups are a great way to network and they provide educational opportunities for those who aren’t able to attend the AAMI Exchange (and those who are). If there isn’t one in your area, maybe starting one would be a great way to connect with colleagues in the field. AAMI has resources available to help with that, also.
We are in the stages of bringing our curriculums up to speed for the fall semester. I feel that it is a great time to remind you that there are great resources that are available to all AAMI members. We encourage educators and students to check out these resources on the AAMI website, but also technicians who are looking to update or improve their skillsets.
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 can use to stay up to date on what is needed. The AAMI Educators Discussion Group provides discussions about relevant education-related topics and also libraries of helpful documents. These documents include curriculums, laboratory exercises as well as related ideas such as how to promote your program.
We have decided to continue to deliver our HTM courses under our usual “hybrid” model where the students meet partially face-to-face and partially virtual for the 2022-2023 school year. Our students are accustomed to the virtual learning experience. We went fully virtual during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, however it became apparent that our students thrive when given the opportunity to meet face–to– face. I would again, like to thank all of the companies and organizations who have made their online training and resources available to colleges. We will continue to utilize these resources when possible.
The last couple of years have enforced my belief that HTM courses “should” or even “must” be face–to–face at least partially. Except for the very heart of COVID-19, we had face-to-face laboratories and utilized the local hospitals for many other laboratory experiences such as laboratory, cath lab and imaging. For a short time during the pandemic, we ran all of our HTM courses virtually. We were able to continue to have cooperative education students hired at local hospitals throughout the entire time. Our students continued to get that important hands-on training for which I’m very thankful. We are now totally back to the full-time cooperative education model.
Based on our 2022-2023 projected enrollments, many students who put off college during the heart of the pandemic are returning to school.
I again ask that as we begin a new school year, we all strive to get the message out that there are good paying jobs available and it’s to all of our advantage to support our field. Please, continue to stay safe!
– Steven J. Yelton, P.E.; is a Senior HTM Engineer for a large health network in Cincinnati, Ohio and is a Professor Emeritus at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College where he teaches biomedical instrumentation (HTM) courses. He is the immediate past chair of AAMI’s board of directors, previous chair of AAMI’s Technology Management Council (TMC), and chair of AAMI’s HTAC Committee.
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