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A creative solution for the biomed shortage problem

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | March 02, 2021
From the March 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

“Some of these students are really intelligent, and once they get it, they’re so proud,” said Hooper.

In the hospital, the students learn how a medical equipment repair department operates on a daily basis as well as how to document work orders and inventory, communicate effectively with customers, check in and set up equipment, use test equipment and tools, and respond to safety events and document follow-up for hazards, recalls and incidents. They also get the opportunity to shadow senior technicians and engineers on complicated service calls.

One of the major issues Hooper ran into was figuring out how to get his leadership to agree to pay for these two extra positions. Those positions were for a PRN clinical engineer and a PRN biomedical equipment technician.

He developed a relationship with a third-party temp agency that his organization used for IT temp services. He pointed a few qualified people in the direction of the temp agency’s local manager and asked that they be hired as temp workers for his hospital.

The hospital paid the temp agency for their services and the agency paid the employees a decent fraction of that amount, explained Hooper. He used that strategy for three to four years.

To date, almost 30 students have already been through the internship at Children’s National and a few have gone on to work for GE Healthcare, Philips Healthcare and the FDA. Eight former students currently work at the hospital as biomedical equipment technicians or clinical engineers.

In Hooper’s 15 years at the hospital, the department has evolved from a five-person team to a 25-person team. The department has also grown to manage new areas, including device integration and medical device cybersecurity.

The next step is to develop relationships with neighboring facilities. In Washington, D.C., there are about 25 hospital that could benefit from this internship approach and Hooper is working with peers at MedStar Health facilities and the VA in trying to get these students placed.

“I’m happy that I had the opportunity to create a course and internship,” he concluded. “It’s really been a double-edged win-win for both the students and us.”

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