One of the classes I teach in the biomedical equipment technology and medical imaging systems programs at Texas State Technical College is a class called “Introduction to Biomedical Equipment Technology.” It is the first course most of our students take when they decide they want to major in our program. This class is not a hard class. It is not a “weed people out” course. In fact, the main purpose behind this course is to motivate, inspire, get students excited about the career field they have chosen and the many exciting possibilities that exist.
We talk about typical career paths, salaries, types of employers, publications that are available (TechNation, for one), and HTM organizations that would be beneficial for them to join. We start talking terminology. We introduce them to types of equipment used in health care and how it works. No, they are not tearing it apart and troubleshooting it at this point. Yet, getting to know what something does and how it does it seems to bring out some excitement.
I like to bring in guest speakers, especially graduates from our program (and this is an open invitation to those reading this), who once sat in the very seats the students are sitting in. So, many of our graduates have gone on to incredible achievements and their talks “light a fire” in current students.
Careers with in-house groups, independent service organizations, manufacturers as well as biomedical equipment technicians and medical imaging specialists are the typical paths talked about. However, recently someone asked me about sales. We have only had a handful, that I can remember in my 22 years here, who now sell medical devices for a manufacturer or distributor. And, they do quite well in their careers. For the most part, sales has been a footnote when we discuss career paths, until recently. I recently read Dave Ramsey’s “EntreLeadership.” Yes, I know it has been out since 2011. So many books, so little time. I found it to be a great book, even for a career educator such as myself. There is one chapter in the book that deals exclusively with sales. After reading this chapter, I agree with the author, we are ALL in sales, whether we like it or not. The four steps mentioned for sales in the book are: qualification, rapport, education/information, and closing. Heck, we do this every day in recruiting for our program. We also do it in the classroom. Part of students’ qualification is of course academic, but it is also drive (the want to). We build a rapport with them every time we see them. We get to know them as people. We cheer for them, encourage them, get to know their work and family situations, and many times we keep in touch with them long after they graduate. We are proud of them.
The education/information side is sort of obvious, but not quite. We don’t push them. In many ways, we pull them. One of the advantages of our program is that all of us have served as a medical equipment service professional. And, by staying up to date on the career field, we try to know the product inside and out. We believe in our product and we are passionate about students being successful when they graduate. As Dave Ramsey mentions, we sell Chevys and we drive them (just a figure of speech folks). Afterall, very few honest people make a lot of money in education. Trust me, I have worked for several institutions of higher learning (online and in person), and it is nice to work for a place you can be proud of and one that provides a quality education for a fraction of the cost of most with fully transferrable credits. We encourage our students to continue their education toward a four-year degree (while they are working of course) especially if they want to pursue management opportunities.
So according to Dave Ramsey’s book, if the other items are in place, the close almost happens by itself. When we discuss the program with future and current students, it isn’t really a close as much as it is tying up loose ends and getting them started.
Back to the intro course. One of the things I don’t talk about enough until recently is entrepreneurship. We have had several grads who have gone on to become successful business people, working for themselves and starting companies. And, of course, I have many friends over the years who went on to do the same thing (Big shout out to Bill P., Ted K., Chip Y., Steve K., Brian M., Steveo S. and the dozens of others I’m forgetting, forgive me) A lot of the incoming students don’t even realize that starting a business is a possibility. When the subject of their future comes up, they just assume that they will be working for someone else their entire careers. I would love for some of you entrepreneurs to visit and show them the possibilities.
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