As Health Technology Grows, so Do Career Opportunities
Learning Tools We thank our doctors often. But what about the talented people who design and install our doctors’ equipment? Though a career in healthcare technology may be less celebrated, it is no less rewarding.
The next time you’re in a hospital or doctor’s office, take a look around. It’s almost a certainty that you will see a vast array of medical devices and technology, all of which play a crucial role in delivering quality healthcare.
The treatment and monitoring of patients today depends increasingly on the functionality and interoperability of a growing number of sophisticated devices both within and outside of a hospital’s walls. That fact is spurring the growth and evolution of a field known as healthcare technology management, or HTM.
“When you or a loved one enters the hospital, you probably don’t even think about all the medical technology around you and how important it is for that equipment to work safely,” says Karen Waninger, corporate executive director of clinical engineering for Franciscan Health, a 14-hospital health system serving Indiana and Illinois. “It’s the role of the HTM professional to ensure that medical technology is working safely and effectively.”
Professionals within the HTM field can hold various titles, depending on their education, skills and place of employment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics uses the generic “medical equipment repairers” to describe those who “install, maintain and repair patient care equipment.” That description, however, doesn’t capture the full gamut of responsibilities, as many healthcare facilities turn to these professionals to guide the selection and purchase of healthcare technology, provide education to clinicians and sit on multidisciplinary hospital teams that focus on patient safety and improve the hospital’s overall environment of care. Demand for these workers is expected to grow as the population ages and medical equipment becomes more complex.
“HTM professionals can help to save lives.”
HTM professionals can be biomedical equipment technicians, also known as BMETs, or even simply as biomeds. They can work directly for healthcare facilities, independent service organizations (ISOs) that contract with hospitals or medical device manufacturers. These technicians typically need an associate’s degree for an entry-level position, and many employers are placing an emphasis on the development of information technology skills. Certification is gaining traction as a way to demonstrate expertise in the field.
Separately, there are also biomedical or clinical engineers, who — as the name suggests — hold an engineering degree. They can be involved in the design and creation of devices, systems and software used in healthcare. They might work in universities, manufacturing, hospitals or research facilities.
Danielle McGeary is the vice president of HTM at the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation. McGeary, who holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in biomedical engineering, said a common thread running through all HTM jobs — no matter the position — is an appreciation for the fundamental role that technology plays in modern medicine.
“This is such an exciting time to consider a career in HTM,” McGeary says. “The professionals who will thrive are those who can combine their love of technology with patient care to work directly with clinicians on the front line in the hospital. Simply put, HTM professionals can help to save lives.”