Hae Choe: After 25+ Years in Standards, the Work Is Still Exciting

I began working in standards development at AAMI about a year out of college, more than 25 years ago. Before that, I had no idea that standards even existed! I assumed that this job would be serving as a step stone to a more glamorous, interesting world of work. I was wrong, because not only is the world of standards glamorous—it’s interesting!

Working in standards is something that is difficult to explain to many people, even though in many ways if forms the backbone of our society. Without standards, we’d lack the assurance of mind to use the products and processes in our world. Because the products are developed, tested, and distributed according to a set of standards developed by experts, our world as we know it functions and thrives. AAMI lives in the health and medical sector of standards development. Working to help keep patients safe is not only interesting but is a mission worth tackling for anyone. In times as we are facing with the Coronavirus pandemic, working in the health and medical field has never felt so interesting or rewarding.

My work doesn’t happen on the front lines of healthcare, far from it. But developing standards gives me hope that we are doing our part to provide for safe health/medical devices and practices for the future. In this pandemic situation, AAMI determined that employees should work from home to follow the CDC guidance in keeping safe. Working from home has been challenging and at times difficult to maneuver, since meeting with members to develop standards now happens on a virtual platform. I miss the in-person contact with all the different members of the standards committees, both in the U.S. and worldwide. Working virtually has been challenging but we all sacrificed and did our best.

Many of us are busier than ever trying to do the best at work, at home, and in life. It is often difficult to keep up with our day-to-day endeavors, but setting time aside to develop myself has become something that is extremely important for me. Through these times, I learned that I should keep learning and to develop myself as much as I develop standards.

In that spirit, for professional development, I focused some energy into getting my recertification in Certified Standards Professional (CStd). This is a certification granted by SES, the Society for Standards Professionals. There are two levels of certification SES offers. CStd is tailored for a career professional level that demonstrates a thorough, more sophisticated knowledge of the principles, techniques, and effects of standardization and recognizes a person’s experience, expertise, and contribution in the area of standards. In order to achieve this level, one would need to not only work in the standards field but need to hold leadership roles and participate in areas relevant to standards and be recognized. On top of that, one would need to either provide training, presentation, or an article that showcases one’s knowledge and expertise in standards. The last step is to pass a test regarding standards development.

I became certified in 2016. As the recertification can be achieved every five years, I knew I needed to see if I had been doing my part to apply for recertification in 2021. This means that I needed to keep up my volunteer and leadership roles as well as participate in SES conference and other training/learning seminars. In addition to my role at AAMI, I volunteer on the ANSI (American National Standards Institute)’s USNC (U.S. National Committee) for IEC as the vice chair for the Technical Management Committee. This group manages the technical program for U.S. TAGs (technical advisory groups) for IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission). As such, we provide governance all across the sector for organizations that work on developing standards within the subject matter of IEC. I also serve on the ANSI BSR (Board of Standards Review) which is the group that approves all of the American National Standards.

By serving on these external groups, I am able to interact with other standards professionals across different sectors which has proven beneficial in working in standards and understanding how standards work outside of the health/medical area. Not only do I try to learn with every opportunity, I share what I have learned by providing training for other standards professionals when speaking or as a panel member in the USNC sponsored workshops. 

Through it all, I can definitely say that I have found standards development to be interesting and fulfilling. Staying relevant, being interested, and keeping up the learning for professional development is a great way to feel engaged in your job. Even after 25 plus years, I still get excited working on standards at AAMI.

Hae Choe is a director of standards at AAMI.

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