Janice Courtois: What Are You Afraid Of?

The acronym FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) was introduced to me by my first manager in the biomed field. As a new field service technician, I had tons of doubt about my abilities—enough uncertainty about what the day would bring to fill a Mack truck—and fear was always lurking around the corner!

When I presented any doubt or fear to my manager, she would remind me that the FUD factor was present, and I had the resources to be successful.

One example of the FUD factor presented itself early-on in my career: An OEM service technician told my customer that I (a third-party provider) was not able to perform maintenance to as high of standards as the OEM. In this case, the OEM rep was relying on the FUD factor to procure a sale. Fear can be ugly beast in the HTM world. Integrity and knowledge combat the FUD factor in situations like this.

Some example FUD factor questions:

  • Can I really repair this medical device that I have never seen before?
  • What if I get too deep into the repair and I cannot determine the cause of the issue?
  • Will I be able to resolve the urgent problem that I just received a call about in the operating room?

I would like to say that the FUD factor disappears after 15 years of servicing medical equipment. It decreases in intensity, but never totally disappears. I think that it is healthy to have a small amount of fear when entering an unknown situation. Being overly confident and egotistical can cause more conflict with your customers and coworkers. Often, if the FUD factor takes control of your sensory system, you are not able to think clearly and calmly. Presenting a calm presence in a sea of chaos is extremely important for everyone in the room.

Another area where the FUD factor comes into play is public speaking. I have discovered after presenting in several of my collegiate classes that being prepared is the key to success. Preparation does not necessarily mean that I have a prepared script to read—that is pretty boring! However, practicing, practicing, and more practicing give me a sense of confidence that I will be able to present to a public audience. The best opportunity for public speaking for me was at our local biomedical conference. Presenting in front of a friendly group of HTM employees is an easy way to get more comfortable in public speaking. Then you can move on to a national audience, at the AAMI Exchange, for example.

My advice to the newer technicians in HTM is to step outside of your comfort zone and continue to grow as a technician and as a person. Having the title of “technician” carries much responsibility and accountability. We have to be able to speak to clinical staff, providers, and the C-Suite with confidence. Continue the pursuit of education and higher learning in order to combat the FUD factor.

Make connections at local and national conferences, through social media and listserv forums as often as possible. Use the connections that you have formed as resources when the FUD factor starts to rear its ugly head. You will be amazed at how many other technicians have had the same issues. I have found that the HTM community is very willing to share information, you just have to ask.

And remember:

“Fear and uncertainty are often the first steps on the road towards personal growth.” – Dee Waldeck

Janice Courtois is a certified biomedical equipment technician at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, AZ and a member of the Technology Management Council.

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