If you’re a healthcare technology management (HTM) professional, AAMI offers you a great way to stay current with standards and technological advances, connect with experts, be a part of initiatives and workgroups that facilitate safe and reliable patient care, and learn in general about developments across the healthcare industry. Although I have been following AAMI since I started in HTM six years ago, I only got the chance to attend the annual conference for the first time in June 2016. I was like a kid in a candy store. Really! I was excited to learn what my HTM friends had to share. I was thrilled to meet experts from around the country and outside. Meeting some of them was truly an honor because they are the authors of the books and chapters I read during college and grad school. It was overwhelming, which can be the case you’re a newbie in the crowd!
The 2016 conference was refreshing in so many ways. I met people I was connected to on LinkedIn and asked of few of them to mentor me. A little note about mentoring here: I was part of AAMI’s Mentorship Program in 2015, and I cannot stress how much I learned from John Weimert, director at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. He guided me on medical device maintenance, capital planning methodologies, risk management frameworks, and a lot more.
On a personal note, attending the conference helped me come out of my introvert bubble and be more outgoing. Believe me when I say this: The people who know me will tell you that I can be quiet and reserved with my words. Still, when I returned from the conference, I reached out to the many wonderful people I had met and I started talking to them, seeking their advice, sharing ideas, and sometimes just learning what they were working on in their organization. It helped me in many ways to improve the way I worked and to be more efficient.
At the 2016 conference, I was inspired by one of my HTM friends. His presentation about taking a risk and going out of your comfort zone to learn more made me take a leap of faith and change career roles. I can say for sure, it was one of the best risks I’ve ever taken.
Changing roles has given me the opportunity to connect with many experts working in the medical device industry on both the pre-and postmarket sides. Working outside my comfort zone has allowed me to share my experiences and ideas with others in the healthcare industry—whether the subject is medical device maintenance strategies, cybersecurity risk management, regulatory compliance, or human resource development.
After AAMI 2016, I set an ambitious goal for myself. I wanted to be involved with the HTM community, AAMI workgroups, and present at AAMI 2017. In short, I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone. I wanted to give something back (even a little) to the community that’s given me a “purpose.”
It has been rewarding and motivating in a whole different way since last year’s conference last year. AAMI members and staff have been very, very kind to me, recognizing my efforts and giving me an opportunity to be more involved.
At AAMI 2017, I was an incoming member at the BI&T Editorial Board, the Technology Management Council, and the Device Security Workgroup. This involvement with AAMI has given me a lot more than I expected when I vowed to stretch myself professionally last year. It’s allowed me to work on a variety of projects and initiatives, share ideas and practical experiences, and enhance my knowledge base.
For all the young professionals like me, I offer this bit of advice: Get out there and connect with the HTM community. Don’t be hesitant to ask someone to mentor you, don’t be afraid to say you don’t know, and keep an open mind to learn and improve. There are seasoned professionals who are approachable, who are there to help you learn and grow.
Priyanka Upendra, BSBME, MSE, CHTM, is the compliance manager with Clinical Engineering Support Services at Intermountain Healthcare, based in Salt Lake City, UT.