James Linton: When You’re in a Rut, Get a Map!

Are you new to the HTM field, or do you feel like you’re in a bit of a career rut? Then you need to start setting goals and planning your next steps no differently than you would a round-the-world vacation⁠—with a map. Consider this a wakeup call to all HTM professionals with a goal of furthering their career, are just too confused by all the information out there, or don’t know where to start. Then, let me introduce you to the HTM Career Planning Handbook, which is offered by AAMI as a free resource.

When I was a new HTM professional, I didn’t know about all the different areas of HTM that would open up. So, I was never able to plan for them, let alone aim to be a part of them. Instead, I like most took the first HTM job offered to me and dove headfirst trying to learn as much as possible while paying down some of that sweet student debt I had just incurred. This kept going for years, until I had a realization that I was burning out and spinning my tires. I kept working, but was I really progressing?

So, I grabbed a coffee and took inventory of myself. Where was I at, what did I bring to the table in HTM and did I enjoy my little slice of the industry. In doing this, I was able to look around and determine what I needed to get to that next level from field service to management. The next step was easy, just doing the work! I mean, it was hard, and some luck is always helpful, but now I had a plan and a map to where I wanted to go. Instead of chasing the sun, hoping eventually I find a beach each day and instead ending up right back at the start, each day I did small things such as reading industry trends and big things like signing up for courses more difficult than I’d had before.

After all that planning, I was able to enter some short-term pain into my life to get that long-term gain of career satisfaction we all strive for. What changed and caused me to finally get somewhere was taking that personal inventory and mapping a map to where I wanted to be.

Where am I now? After a successful director level career, I teach HTM/Biomedical Engineering Technology as a three-year college advanced diploma in Canada (associate degree in the U.S.). One of the first things all my first-year students are told to do is download a copy of AAMI’s free HTM Career Handbook and start tracing out their map to career satisfaction.

That being said, I would advise that everyone looks at the HTM resources in the AAMI shop—why struggle to reinvent the wheel when AAMI has the blueprints for free? Oh, and since all my students coming up will have maps to get to the career potentials they want, I suggest you do the same or they will be passing you by!

James Linton is professor and program coordinator at St. Clair College in Ontario, Canada.

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