Danielle McGeary: Don’t Let Fear Stand in the Way of Certification

This blog post originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of AAMI News.

I had been considering taking the AAMI Credentials Institute’s certified healthcare technology manager (CHTM) exam for a while but had put it off because I have always been a very nervous and anxious test taker. Although I always did well in school, my SAT scores were not as high as one would expect, and during college, my palms would get so sweaty during an exam that I could barely hold onto my pencil.

Throughout my career, I saw many of my colleagues become CHTMs or certified clinical engineers (CCEs), especially within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), where almost every clinical engineer and clinical engineering service chief (director) I worked with was certified. To stay professionally competitive, I knew this was something I eventually would have to do as well.

After accepting my new position at AAMI, I knew the time had come—I could not put off taking the test any longer, regardless of how anxious the thought made me. Because I believe in the importance of certification and want to promote it, I knew I needed to practice what I was going to preach. Throughout my entire career, I have always prided myself on never asking anyone who reported to me to do something I was not willing to do myself. When it came to certification, it could be no different.

After being at AAMI for only a week, I, off the cuff, signed up to take the exam during the next testing window, which was scheduled for the following week. The CHTM exam is only given two times a year, so if I did not take the exam right away, I would have to wait six months until the next testing window.

In the days that followed, I wondered if I too rashly made this decision. I realized that since I had given myself no time to study, I was going to have to rely on my five years of management experience between the VA and Aramark to pull me through and trust my acquired on-the-job knowledge. However, deep down, I was deathly afraid of failing. What would my AAMI colleagues and boss think of me if I failed? Would they question if they made the right decision by hiring me? How would I deal with the humiliation? What had I gotten myself into?!

The morning of the exam I woke up with a knot in my stomach, but I reassured myself that I would do fine. I threw back a Dunkin Donuts coffee on the way to the exam in desperate hope that the caffeine would jog loose all the HTM knowledge I had accumulated over the last 10 years.

When I sat down at the computer and the questions started populating, I knew the answers to most of them. Question after question, I got more and more confident and felt better about how the test was going. After I answered all the questions, I decided to go back and look over my responses—big mistake! I started questioning all my answers and found myself getting flustered all over again.

To put myself out of my misery, I finally made the decision to just hit the “submit” button and hope for the best. About 10 seconds later, the word “Pass” appeared on the screen. I was elated! I wanted to dance around the test center.

I share this story—at the risk of sounding completely ridiculous—because there are plenty of other HTM professionals out there who are not certified simply because they fear taking the test. But I am here to tell you, based on my experience, that if you are an involved and proactive manager, your on-the-job experience will be enough to get you through this exam.

So, trust your knowledge and have confidence in your abilities, and you should do well. Good luck!

The next testing window for AAMI Credentials Institute exams is Nov. 1–15, and applications are due by Oct. 19. Visit www.aami.org/Certification to learn more.

Danielle McGeary, CHTM, is vice president of healthcare technology management at AAMI.

2 thoughts on “Danielle McGeary: Don’t Let Fear Stand in the Way of Certification

  1. Great job Danielle!
    I put off doing my CBET until I had a younger BMET state he was taking the test. No way he was going to beat me! I took the test and passed.

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