Karen Waninger: You Are Not ‘Just’ a BMET

Whether at local, regional, or national gatherings of healthcare technology management (HTM) professionals, I’ve noticed a common misconception that people with certain job titles automatically deserve a higher level of respect.

It is typical for individuals in these settings to introduce themselves by saying their name and the name of their employer. Often, the conversation continues with a question about the role they hold within their organization. Repeatedly, I hear something similar to “I’m just a BMET” as the reply, with a tone of voice that sounds almost apologetic.

Every time that happens, I make a point to explain that there is no such thing as “just” a BMET or “only” a technician. There are too many other people out there who will attempt to diminish your sense of self worth in one way or another, so stop doing it to yourself! If you are directly responsible for providing service on medical equipment, you are extremely important.

Although what you do may be unrecognized by the general public, you are a hero to those front-line caregivers who rely on you to help them get through their most grueling days. You’re important even though the administrative team may never hear your name and patients may not even think about whether the equipment they rely on is safe for use.

If you stop to put all that in context, it should serve as ongoing affirmation of how well you are doing your job. If nothing fails during a critical procedure, if no patient is harmed by a faulty device, and if no one from the leadership team is called about some costly repair or an extended amount of downtime on a high-volume scanner, then you have succeeded.

It is important to continue your professional development and stay abreast of changes in technology and regulatory requirements. But that does not require you to become anything other than a more skilled and more experienced technician. It is not true that you have to change to a management position to advance your career.  If you prefer to continue doing technical work—and if you are good at it—there will be different opportunities for you.

Healthcare technology continues to advance, and our profession must evolve along with it.  Hopefully, our best and most experienced technicians will choose to continue to learn and at the same time help recruit and mentor new members of this profession. If you are one of those people, be proud of your abilities and your title.

Remember, the AAMI Annual Conference & Expo is not just for managers. If you have the chance, you should go to local, regional, and national meetings, enjoy yourself, meet as many other HTM professionals as you can, and introduce yourself—with confidence!

Karen Waninger is corporate executive director of clinical engineering at Franciscan Health in Mishawaka, IN.

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