Training the HTM workforce of tomorrow

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | May 03, 2021
From the May 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

In addition to hands-on experience, apprentices are required to achieve three forms of certification, including the Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician candidate status. The other two are a certification in IT fundamentals; and AAMI’s new CABT (Certified Associate of Biomedical Technology) certification. CBET certification can boost recognition of a BMET’s skills and be obtained by those who hold a two-year degree and two years work experience; or if they have no degree, four years of work experience. Those who lack the experience can still take the test and be placed in a candidate status. They officially become certified upon obtaining the years of hands-on experience they need.

The CABT is especially important for recruitment according to McGeary, as it is an entry level certification that can be obtained by those with only a high school diploma or a GED. “These emerging HTM professionals can obtain that certification and it’s good for five years. After five years, they’re now eligible to become a CBET.” She adds that AAMI has seen a “huge correlation” among professionals who become certified early in their career and those who are most likely to maintain their certification throughout it.

A mass exodus
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts nearly 3,000 new BMET positions will be available by 2029. To expand the number of BMETs, recruitment at the high school and college levels is essential, according to Ken Ottenberg, head of operations for HSS, which provides managed security and HTM services for healthcare organizations. "I think a lot of us who got into the industry fell into it by accident versus it being our primary focus. Most of us never knew about it when we looked at higher education. I think there's the opportunity to let people know HTM is out there. Knowing there is a viable, long-term career, and it offers flexibility and growth is great for our profession.”

Not all who enter the profession go through a two-year or four-year BMET program in school. Many come from IT or some type of electronics background and are trained by HTM departments and hospitals on their own. As a result, more experienced BMETs are concerned that entry-level ones do not possess the same hands-on training they received.

“I grew up building model planes, working on cars and bikes and computers. In high school, I took four years of science and shop class with wood, metal, machine tools, and electronics. These skills have served me incredibly well, along with the benefit of being mentored by the owner of a bike shop as a teenager, and the lead engineer of the medical electronics company that I got my first tech job with,” said Scot Mackeil, senior anesthesia biomedical technician at an academic medical center in Boston. “Every day my skill set was built and evolved because someone took an interest in making sure I was going to be good at my job that day and in the future.”

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