Don Armstrong: Be Like Mike

Like a lot of you, I have spent quite a bit of time watching shows during the COVID-19 pandemic. I recently watched The Last Dance series on ESPN, which profiled the domination and greatness of the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan decades ago. Stay with me, as I will get to my point and how this ties into the healthcare technology management (HTM) world.

During The Last Dance, they played the 1992 commercial “Be Like Mike.” While I enjoyed remembering the commercial, I thought to myself “I can’t be like Mike” because I am not good at basketball. But then, it sunk in. What the commercial was actually saying is you could be the best at what you do—whatever that is—if you are committed, dedicated and have opportunity. So the point of this is: Are you working hard to be the best HTM professional you could be?

I asked myself this question, and I was a bit disappointed and a little proud at the same time. I have certainly had periods of time when I really dedicated myself to my profession, but when I started out in my career at 22, I was a bit apathetic about the whole idea of growing. As I grew a little older and gained some perspective, I realized that being a biomedical equipment technician was my career and not simply “my job.” So, why not try to be the best I could be at being a BMET? In 2006, I got certified as a CBET. Over the following decade, I went on to get my bachelor’s degree and CHTM Certification. It all took a while, and I certainly wish I would have started a little earlier.

So, back to my original question. Are you doing what you can to be the best biomed, to “be like Mike?”

In the times we are living right now, it would seem to be the perfect time to evaluate where you are in your career and ask yourself: What can I do to grow to be the best HTM professional I could be? I think about how Michael Jordan become the best. He did not make his high school varsity team until he was a junior. But MJ worked extra hard, trained and practiced, conditioned and studied his opponents. He became the most prepared, conditioned, and talented athlete of his time. There is no reason you or I can’t be that as a biomed.

Here are my strategies:

  • Get certified, whether that’s CBET, CHTM, CRES or the new CABT. The process of studying and planning for the exam can light a fire within you and you may find a new passion for our field. The process of planning for and ultimately passing the exam pushed me to further my career.
  • Achieve a higher degree. If you are looking to achieve a director or higher role, a degree (bachelor’s, MBA) is the way to go.
  • Take a stretch role in your organization. Ask you manager or supervisor what you could do to be an extra help, such as being a quality or PM lead. There are always opportunities in your department.
  • Volunteer for your local or national biomed association, as this is a great way to keep up on new trends in the industry. It is also a great way to network with your fellow biomeds.
  • Attend conferences whenever possible. Webinars are also a great way to stay connected and also to learn new techniques, expand your vision, and to grow as an HTM professional.
  • Subscribe to the publications that interest you.
  • Keep your resume up to date and consider having a professional resume writer take a look.
  • Write about your experience. Blogs are a great way to start. Ask you manager or supervisor if you could write a monthly report or newsletter for your department.
  • Present a topic you care about to your department, or at a conference. This is a great way to expand your skills and to be recognized within our profession.

There are several other way to work on being the best HTM you could be. Carving your own path is sometimes the best and most rewarding way. There is no reason you can’t be the best biomed that you can be. So, get to work and enjoy the process!

Don Armstrong, CBET, CHTM, is a biomedical equipment technician in Vero Beach, FL.

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