by John R. Fischer
, Senior Reporter | May 16, 2022
From the May 2022 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
Margaret Berkey, senior BMET at CommonSpirit Health Good Samaritan Hospital in Nebraska, adds that justifying the need for them is also hard because they are not "technically" community programs that can just send students once they graduate to work at the local hospital. "Two and four-year programs — if we can just maintain and grow a few of those in the middle of the U.S., because there are almost zero BMET education sources. The whole Midwest just needs something to fill those gaps."
Additionally, the profession may be a turn-off to certain groups because it is not very diverse and primarily made up of white men. A study by AAMI last year found that only 10% of personnel identified as female, 8% as African American or Black, and 7% as Hispanic and Latinx. “There's definitely a lot of work to be done to really bridge that gap in the event of transition,” said McGeary.
She adds that one way the industry is now tackling these issues is through the newly established AAMI BMET apprenticeship program, a two-year training program that pairs individuals interested in becoming BMETs with employers who can train them. “It allows everyone, regardless of where they come from or their economic status, the opportunity to become a BMET. If employers are really looking to increase diversity, the BMET apprenticeship is a great way to do that because it fully recognizes and understands that not everyone has the means to go to college. But that doesn't mean that they can't be a great BMET with the proper training.”
What can HTM professionals do
According to Berkey, the HTM community needs to be more creative in the way they recruit trainees. In 2019, she proposed her idea for the AAMI BMET apprenticeship. AAMI and the U.S. department of Labor launched the program last year, and it now has over 400 individuals waiting to be assigned to a provider for training. "This program will familiarize selected candidates with the HTM field and really lays out the training required to be successful and for completion of the program. The individuals completing the required elements will actually become a candidate for certification through AAMI in the HTM field," said Mike Busdicker, system director of clinical engineering at Intermountain Healthcare. The healthcare system just hired its first apprentice this year.
But despite the higher number of people interested, the AAMI BMET apprenticeship is still having a hard time attracting employers who are willing to sponsor and pay trainees a salary, as well as the program’s required supplemental education. McGeary says this may be due to providers not understanding the full value of HTM professionals for their facilities. She also emphasizes the need to pick up enrollment levels in university programs to prevent further closures. “If we keep seeing more schools close, it's going to be a problem and is going to keep getting worse,” said McGeary. “We really need to get out into the middle and high schools, promote the field and spread awareness to students about this career path.”