As graduation season is upon us, I want to sincerely congratulate everyone who is graduating from a healthcare technology management (HTM) or other academic program this spring! You all should be proud of yourselves. Having once been an HTM student myself, I can tell you that you have chosen a very rewarding and special career path. Being on the front lines helping clinicians with their medical technology is exciting and different every day.
However, what makes the field even better is that you not only have the opportunity to help clinicians through your work but also every patient that walks through the hospital’s doors. After all, the patient is the real reason why we come to work every day. If I could impart three pieces of advice as you start your work/internships, it would be the following:
Take advantage of every opportunity you have to learn
When you ‘re in a learning/entry level role within an organization, you often have the opportunity to watch the medical instrumentation in use, such as during an OR or interventional case.
Never pass up those opportunities, even if it involves coming in early or staying a little late. Knowing how to change a part in a medical device is one skill, but also knowing and understanding the application and clinical workflow around the device will make you that much more valuable to an organization. Make sure you understand the bigger picture. As you move up and advance in your career, you will have less and less time to do this—so do it now.
Know the power of “thank you”
Healthcare organizations are truly made up of multidisciplinary teams to accomplish goals and projects. We often take for granted the many people who do so much behind the scenes (such as the administrative or custodial staff) that you work with every day. For instance, that new care unit that you helped design would not have been able to open if it was not cleaned.
I challenge you to send at least one thank-you email a day to someone who helped you. People remember when you sincerely take the time to thank them since it makes them feel appreciated. They will also be more apt to help you again in the future. You also never know when that person was last thanked, what they may be battling behind the scenes, and the impact your message could have on them.
Find a mentor and utilize them
Everyone, no matter what stage of your career, should have a mentor. It is essential that your mentor is not your boss. While your boss will (hopefully) give you feedback throughout your career, it’s better to have someone who you can talk to confidentially or seek a second opinion from. It is important for all new HTM professionals and young managers to know and recognize that most every work-related challenge or issue you face is most likely not unique.
As challenging as situations may seem in the moment (whether a difficult employee, an unhappy staff, or an upset clinician that just threw you under the bus when it was not your fault), you are not alone—it will pass and you will learn from the situation. Your success depends on how well you you navigate through these challenging situations and difficult conversations. This is where seeking the advice of mentor is key.
Use the Resources at Your Disposal
I wish everyone the best of luck, whether you are stepping out into the HTM work force for the first time or taking on new roles and responsibilities after earning an advanced degree.
For those who are seeking a mentor, AAMI offers an excellent mentorship program for AAMI Members. If you have not found a job yet or are looking to take the next step in your career, AAMI has a online Career Center, where you can upload your resume for potential employers and recruiters to see and where all members can search through posted positions. AAMI also hosts an in-person career center at the AAMI Exchange. I strongly encourage all of you to take advantage of these resources.
Again, congratulations on your academic accomplishments! I wish you all the best of luck and truly hope you find this field as rewarding and fulfilling as I have.
Danielle McGeary, CHTM, is vice president of healthcare technology management at AAMI.