The growing need for new healthcare technology management (HTM) professionals is nothing new to those familiar with the industry. For at least a decade people have expressed concerns regarding the day when the many baby boomers will retire from the field creating a large void in qualified biomeds. Richard Woods, the trainer and instructor at ReNew Biomedical, answered TechNation’s expert panel below:
Q: What are the most important things to look for when seeking a mentor?
Woods: Look for a mentor with experience in HTM, a good reputation in their organization and someone who networks with others. A mentor should be easy to talk with and give constructive feedback. They should also keep a positive attitude and try to help you see the good in all situations.
Q: How can a mentor help a biomed advance in the HTM field?
Woods: Hopefully, the mentor has learned from their experience in the field and can guide a new biomed on their journey in the HTM field. A mentor can provide connections and networking, which can be instrumental in helping someone establish a career. For example, one of our techs relocated to another state for personal reasons. By networking with previous connections in the area, I connected him to a hospital with an opening for a biomedical tech.
Q: What are some benefits of participating in an internship?
Woods: An internship allows a person to experience firsthand what it is like in a profession, without making a career-deciding commitment. Someone may think they want to work in a particular field, but after “seeing behind the curtain,” decide otherwise. The internship is a temporary arrangement, so the intern has no obligation to stay afterward.
Q: What is the difference between an internship and an apprenticeship?
Woods: An internship is a low-paid or sometimes volunteer position in which the intern learns about the field and the company. Internships allow someone to determine if a field of work is right for them and if they want to commit to further education. An apprenticeship is a paid position where the apprentice learns the trade on the job and sometimes includes classroom study. An apprenticeship is for someone who decides to commit to a career and is willing to take the time and effort to learn.
Q: How does an apprenticeship compare to other education/training options?
Woods: My personal experience is this: years ago, I attended DeVry, where after 18 months, I received an electronics technician diploma. This cost quite a bit of money (thanks again, Mom and Dad!), but I was now qualified for an entry-level engineering technician job with Texas Instruments. Had an apprenticeship been available, I could have begun my career without prior schooling. The expensive education I received from a university would have been given to me by my employer.
Q: What are some benefits of participating in an apprenticeship?
Woods: An apprenticeship allows a person to earn while they learn. At ReNew Biomedical, our apprentices attend classes while on the clock and, most importantly, learn from their fellow technicians on the workbench. This on-the-job training, in my opinion, is significantly more valuable than any classroom training. Primarily, because of this hands-on experience, our apprentices are already working independently in the field.
Q: What else do you think TechNation readers need to know about these topics?
Woods: Healthcare technology is changing daily and so are the people who care for the machinery. Pick a program that offers a supportive team environment, quality classroom materials and hands-on instruction. Ask to train under biomeds who follow OEM guidelines and double-check their work for accuracy. You will be able to tell which mentors take the most pride in their work by how they organize their workspace and seek to gain product knowledge through manufacturer training opportunities. ReNew Biomedical has been a strong supporter of slow and steady training instruction alongside Department of Labor recognized Journeyman and supportive management. Always remember that a healthy learning environment produces the most qualified and respected technicians.