Do I want to take on a management role, or am I happiest in a staff position? Many biomeds will face this question in their careers, especially if they’ve been working in the field for more than five years. To give this question some context, consider these facts:
- There are 5,564 hospitals in the United States, according to the American Hospital Association.
- There are approximately 47,000 biomedical equipment technicians (although we are called medical equipment repairers) servicing these hospitals, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BL).
- BLS predicts a 5% job growth rate in the field between 2016-2026.
Someone in each of these hospitals oversees the biomed department, and someone is doing the “boots on the ground” work. Where do you want to fit? The same kind of question applies to those who work for independent service organizations (ISOs). Do you want to pursue a management position?
To start, let me draw a distinction between management and leadership. I truly believe we are all leaders. Most clinicians I’ve met will tell you the same thing; they rarely ever meet the manager or director of our department, but they really know the biomeds in their area.
Being a staff-level biomed is one of the most rewarding jobs you could ever have. You interact with the clinical team, the patients, and the public. You are making a positive difference in people’s lives on the front lines. It is can also be a tough and demanding job, but it is an honorable career (it is my career) and one that can change lives.
Still, you may want to one day pursue a management role. Sometimes moving up means you may have to move on to a new hospital, company, or state, and that is very tough. But I have done it. While difficult, it was a growth experience, and I learned more than I could have ever imagined. If you ever get the chance to manage, I highly recommend you give it a shot.
It is critical to get some training as soon as you take a management position as it involves different skills than being a biomed (even at the highest level). I recommend The Leadership Challenge, a book by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. It has many real-world examples of everyday leadership challenge and strategies.
Donald Armstrong, CBET, CHTM, works for Stanford Health Care in California. He is a member of AAMI’s Technology Management Council.