Have you ever thought about what would happen in this world if we didn’t have volunteers? Who do you think is responsible for firefighting in small towns, doing search-and-rescue work, delivering meals to seniors, manning the phone lines for a nonprofit call center?
Without even knowing it, you probably walk by a person who volunteers every day, especially in healthcare. Many doctors and nurses volunteer their time at free clinics, travel abroad to help with life-changing or life-saving surgeries, and step up when there are disasters around the world. Their medical knowledge is making a difference.
Why would you want to volunteer? From a career perspective, volunteering can be a way of building up your resume. It can lead to professional networking opportunities. It also can be an entry point into an organization that could advance your career. Get involved with local biomed associations, advisory boards for the biomed schools, and, of course, AAMI!
Many things can motivate someone to volunteer. I have always had a passion for the healthcare technology field, and so it’s been easy to sustain that interest outside of official work hours. Earlier in my career, I had the chance to connect with high school students and that was fun, especially when it involved youngsters who came in and job-shadowed for the day.
Many schools also offer medical careers programs. Students come to hospitals to learn about the different careers open to them. This program not only helped high schools students by giving them new insights on a potential career, but it also benefited the biomed technicians, who were given a chance to present and talk about what we do. And how else are we going to let high school kids know that there is this really cool field they could go into to if we don’t volunteer?
Another program worthy of your volunteer time is working with biomed interns. This work is important to the future of healthcare technology management (HTM). It is every HTM leader’s responsibility to be part of this process to begin to mold these individuals into the type of HTM professionals we need them to be. Internships create a great learning environment for both the students and the technicians. For the mentors, internships help to improve communication, teaching, and interpersonal skills, to name a few benefits.
The bottom line is that we need people to volunteer and be involved for the future of HTM. Everyone is busy. Everyone has a lot to do. That’s the way this career is. But if we don’t do it, who will?
Vickie Snyder, MBA, BS, is a consultant for the Veterans Health Administration SOARD project, which deals with inventory management for medical equipment and supplies.