Scott F. Percy: We Need More Women in the HTM Field

Anyone who knows me well,  knows that I am a big advocate for women doing any job, anywhere–and I have felt this way for about 50+ years.  Yeah,  I was about 13 when the girl next door showed me how to throw a football correctly.  Talk about an eye-opener.

Having  had a small number of women in my biomed program,   I can tell you these truths:

  • They are as determined, if not more so, as their male counterparts.
  • Many are single moms who also work, which says volumes about their ability to prioritize,  focus, and succeed.
  • They are flat-out smart.  Many of the highest grades in my program belong to the ladies.
  • They communicate well.  Maybe it’s because they have so many things going on besides school, and there is a real need to communicate well and often.
  • They understand the idea of a mentor as there  are apparently  no egos in play here.
  • Because they are entering the “boys club,”  they have to do things better–always.
  • They bring a feeling of empathy for the patient to the table, which is HUGE.

I could go on, but I think the point is made.  Don’t misinterpret my comments. The gentlemen in my program are great.  Many are looking at a career in healthcare technology management (HTM) after many years in the trades or the service.  They bring  powerful attributes.  The ladies bring it on as well, just many times in different ways.  Even the women who are vets just have a different way of slicing the cake.

This career choice, in my mind, is such a natural for  women, and I cannot figure out why they stay away in droves.   In 2013, the career is a mental exercise as opposed to a physical one and that means the door should be wide open for everyone.

All I know for sure is that the female students I have seen are going to be breaking  some doors down–and I can’t wait.

When my daughter was about 15, I took her to West Point for two reasons:  1)  She had everything  required to be a cadet  and   2) I wanted to show her the portrait of a young lady who had just made student corps  commander, overseeing 4,000 of the best and brightest in the nation.  No small feat, that.  The portrait made a big impression.  Since then,  my  daughter  has walked through a few doors that have  amazed the heck out of me.

So, my final thought: I cannot find one good reason why women are not  represented more in our profession.  Maybe I need to charter a few buses to West Point.

Scott F. Percy

Chair and Director, Clinical Engineering

Brown Mackie College

2 thoughts on “Scott F. Percy: We Need More Women in the HTM Field

  1. I am a biomedical engineer with a master’s degree. I have worked in many different areas of biomed, such as lab research, clinical research, surgical/ operating room robotic, college education, and IRB.

    I currently work as a biomedical engineering technology lead professor/ curriculum content expert and as an IRB board member (medical device/ scientific).

    Prior to these positions, I worked in research and also in operating rooms, helping surgeons during surgery with different medical devices and robots. I specialized in neuro, spine, ortho, trauma, cmf robotic surgery.

    Well, from all these work fields, the only one I experienced an enormous prejudice against women, and even race, was in the surgical/operating room setting. Let’s put some factors in perspective: We work with high-ego surgeons, biomeds can easily be mistaken by their company sales reps, and some companies have sales department taking over the biomed jobs (which doesn’t make sense since they have no idea how to troubleshoot). Ethics is a big issue in this industry, and machismo is a factor.

    I have one example that I need to share. I spoke to a deputy manager here in Miami a couple of years ago, and he asked me all the illegal questions possible and made serious prejudice statements that I will never forget:

    1) You know women don’t last long in this field, right?
    2) Are you married? Kids? Because you know I can’t have problems on the weekends when I need help and my employees saying they can’t because they are with family.
    3) Is your body fit? Because women can’t carry many trays( surgical trays) and have trouble. I’m a 34-year-old guy and fit, and I still have problems at time carrying trays.
    4) What car do you drive? You have to get rid of your car and buy a truck instead.

    Unbelievable right???? I have seen a lot on the field and I have seen my share of unethical issues.

    In surgical setting, I haven’t met many women and it is definitely because of prejudice. Other areas of the biomedical field are more welcoming to women and we are much more well respected.

    Bottom line, the issue is ethics!

  2. Scott – interesting outlook. I can’t decide if I should be offended or encouraged. I do not have an engineering background, but have been very impressed with many of the women I have met in the industry. I am a nurse heavily involved in technology planning on the design and construction side. I am in many hospitals around the country where the HTM departments could use some different skill sets. I am very interested in collaborating on subjects concerning technology deployment on all levels. While I do not plan to continue my degree in clinical engineering, I would be happy to bring an educated clinical voice to the table in collaboration, education, and research. Maybe your profession is much like nursing (gender dominant). We should join forces in the industry to create a balanced voice for improved care delivery.

    Debbie Gregory RN, BSN

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