A recent article suggested that HTM-related education may be a “dying breed,” and I couldn’t agree more. That scares me! With programs closing around me and educators retiring, I know that our profession is in trouble—and I know our profession can do things to help.
Picture driftwood on the beach, carefully laid out by educators, spelling HELP. It is time!
What can you do? First, don’t settle! Don’t hire the person with the least-visible tattoos. Set high expectations, including a college degree. We work in an environment where credentials are evidence of quality (let’s not discuss whether that is a valid premise, it is what it is), so seek quality.
Second, when quality applicants don’t knock on your door, research possible academic sources. What programs are around you? Does the program explore important topics such as patient safety? Ask! What do they need? Could you help support the start a HTM-related program? Trust me, many of us who teach are happy to help expand the academic offerings across the country. What does it take to start a program? Trust me, I know and will share. Think educator alliances. Think professional tribes.
Next, accept interns. Yes, offer clinical experience to students without it. You wouldn’t want a fresh nursing graduate to be hired without patient-care experience. I do understand mentoring isn’t easy. I do understand you are short staffed. But, please, don’t say no to interns (especially when you don’t have to pay them). Think long term. Pay it forward.
Lastly, insist that your third-party vendors, service providers, and manufacturers support HTM-related education programs. Do they fund HTM scholarships? Ask! Have you seen the television commercials to promote the nursing profession? Paid for by hospitals? Nope. Promoting the profession is a task for everyone. AAMI can only do so much (and www.IamHTM.org is a great start). The effort needs to be collaborative with some muscle behind it.
The profession, and ultimately patient care, will “pay” a high price if the torch of quality academic programs is snuffed out. I’ll be speaking about academic quality and how you can help at the upcoming AAMI Annual Conference & Expo in Austin, TX. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to exchange ideas. Let the tribe speak!
Barbara Christe, PhD, is the program director of healthcare engineering technology management and an associate professor with the Engineering Technology Department at Purdue School of Engineering & Technology at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, IN.