By Aine Cryts

Mike Busdicker grew up on a northwestern Ohio horse farm—a childhood that fed his fascination with the rodeo. Early on, he decided to pursue a career as a professional bull rider. “That was my direction,” he reminisces.  

Today, Mike Busdicker, MBA, CHTM, FACHE, is system director of clinical engineering at Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare, a nonprofit health system and health insurer serving patients and plan members in Utah and southeastern Idaho. In this role, which he’s held since 2011, Busdicker leads healthcare technology management (HTM) operations covering 24 hospitals and 160 clinics across the state of Utah.

Mike Busdicker

On a daily basis, Busdicker, the 2021 winner of AAMI’s HTM Leadership Award, is responsible for managing 125 employees, a $55 million service budget, and controlling more than 140,000 pieces of general biomed, laboratory, imaging, and homecare medical devices. AAMI’s award recognizes individual excellence, achievement, and leadership in the HTM profession—traits Busdicker wholeheartedly possesses, according to the association.

First Stroke of Luck: A TV Commercial

As passionate as he was about his career choice as a professional bull rider, Busdicker realized that it was a difficult life. For one thing, it wasn’t a lucrative profession. Then there were the 10- to 12-hour days it required. Needless to say, Busdicker felt stuck—until he saw a recruitment commercial for the U.S. Air Force, that is.

Instantly inspired, Busdicker signed up with the Air Force the next day. Six months later, he started his training. His technical training took place at Shepard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, where he studied human resource management and biomedical equipment technology. Later in his career, while he was working full-time and helping to raise five children, Busdicker earned a bachelor of business administration degree (summa cum laude), and a master of business administration, where he also achieved high academic honors, at Baker College in Flint, Mich.

Second Stroke of Luck: A Pivotal Career Choice

These days, Busdicker leads a team of clinical engineers at Intermountain Healthcare. But he credits another stroke of fate with pointing him to the biomed field. When Busdicker first started with the Air Force, he was asked about the types of careers he’d like to pursue. Electronics was a career that had promise, he says, so that’s what he picked. Two of his choices within electronics were aircraft avionics and biomed.

Busdicker was placed on the biomed career track, and he’s never looked back. “I absolutely love [biomed],” he says. Retiring from the military in 2012 after serving for 26 years, the Buckeye state native was in active service until 1989 and then he joined the Wisconsin Air National Guard in 1993.

During his years of active service, Busdicker served as a biomedical equipment technician at the then-Hellenikon Air Force Base in Athens, Greece, and, subsequently, a biomedical manager at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz. And throughout his 19 years at the Wisconsin Air National Guard, Busdicker held a variety of roles—biomedical equipment manager for the 115 Medical Group and first sergeant with the 111 Fighter Wing, both of which are stationed at Truax Field Air National Guard Base in Madison, Wis. He also served as a human resource advisor at the Joint Force Headquarters, similarly in Madison.

Up to the Challenge

The COVID-19 pandemic that transformed the world around us also changed Busdicker’s life overnight. A typical workday for him was very different about 15 months ago, he says. Back then, he launched into each workday by participating in huddle calls with his teams in-person. Currently, Busdicker spends a couple of days in the office each week and works remotely the other days.

Before the pandemic, he would often travel to the health system’s 24 hospitals or other facilities. Busdicker’s goal then—and now—is to ensure that he’s supporting Intermountain Healthcare’s caregivers. He points out that all health system employees are called “caregivers.” That’s because at Intermountain Healthcare, “we’re all providing care,” he tells 24×7 Magazine.

Specifically, Busdicker sees his priority as supporting the health system’s caregivers by providing support and reducing obstacles through a variety of tools. Members of his team collaborate with and support colleagues who include frontline clinical caregivers, department managers and directors, hospital administration, information technology personnel, and those involved with supply chain management.

At the start of the pandemic, he says his toughest challenge at work was managing teams remotely. “It was very difficult at the beginning,” he recalls. “The most difficult thing is you’re really taking away that personal interaction. That’s the face-to-face interaction where you can read [a person’s] body language.”

So, what has he learned since the start of the pandemic as a result? “I really attempt to be better with that ‘personal touch’ piece, even if it has to be done virtually,” says Busdicker. “That means smaller groups instead of an overarching huddle [with a large team] or one-on-one meetings.”

A Career Marked by Achievement

Busdicker describes himself as “humbled” after learning he had won AAMI’s HTM Leadership Award. “This prestigious award is a highlight of my career and provides some confidence that I might leave a positive impression in the HTM industry and make a difference in healthcare,” Busdicker told AAMI. “There have been tremendous mentors in my 38 years as an HTM professional—you know who you are—and without them, this would not have been possible.”

“During this time, I have learned from mistakes, achieved success, and have had a desire to move the field forward,” he added. “None of that would have been possible without the people who believed in me, great examples, and dedicated teams with a passion for the work being performed.”

Below are five top highlights from Busdicker’s career that contributed to his AAMI award:

  1. Driving initiatives that led to annualized cost savings of between $5 million and $15 million at multiple healthcare systems
  2. Long-term success in the delivery of contractual services and management of HTM departments
  3. Reducing capital and operational equipment inventory discrepancies through the efficient use of computerized systems
  4. Leading standardized processes, policies, and procedures that resulted in 100% compliance with federal and state regulatory and accreditation standards
  5. Driving departmental performance, eliminating waste, increasing productivity, and streamlining operations via continuous improvement methods

Busdicker isn’t concerned about leaving a legacy. Instead, on the advice of one of his mentors, he strives to “leave an impression,” he tells 24×7 Magazine. “This has stuck with me, and I firmly believe it applies to our work and personal life. Those seeking to leave a legacy have a personal focus, and those seeking to leave an impression attempt to make things better for everyone. My ideal day would be one where I could leave an impression on those I work with, my friends, and, most importantly, my family.”

Suffice it to say that his colleagues in the military and civilian work settings—not to mention the patients he has served—are better off as a result of the impressions Busdicker leaves every day.

Aine Cryts is a contributing writer for 24×7 Magazine. Questions and comments can be directed to chief editor Keri Forsythe-Stephens at [email protected].

SIDEBAR: Busdicker Basics

Below are four of Mike Busdicker’s favorite things:

  • Top past-times: During his off-time, Busdicker loves playing with his seven grandkids. Their names are Hudson, Nixon, Baylor, Kash, Hadley, Mae, and Harlow. Busdicker relishes spoiling them. Meanwhile, horses continue to be a passion in his life; Busdicker has three of them: a Quarter Horse gelding, a Quarter Horse mare, and a one-year-old Quarter Horse colt. “I love to ride and really just be around them,” he says. A third fun way Busdicker fills up his days is by doing public address announcements for high school football, basketball, baseball, and softball games.
  • Favorite books: “If Disney Ran Your Hospital: 9½ Things You Would Do Differently” by Fred Lee is Busdicker’s favorite work-related book. Besides that, he really enjoys reading along with his grandkids, who get to pick their favorite books.
  • Top tunes: The National Parks, a Provo, Utah-based folk/pop band, is one of Busdicker’s favorite bands. Their music “really tells a story and provides a great message,” he says. And a chance-meeting with country singer Tim McGraw transformed Intermountain Healthcare’s biomed leader into a die-hard fan. But Busdicker’s all-time favorite musician is probably Stevie Nicks. “She was my crush growing up and is my celebrity crush even today,” he confesses.
  • Favorite way to spend the day: Busdicker enjoys getting up in the morning and looking over the green pasture at his horses. A little trail-riding in the crisp morning air while listening to some Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac classics sets the right tone for the day, he adds. After chores are done and the horses are put away in the stables, he spends the rest of the day with family. That could include some bass fishing with his brother and an evening dinner with his kids and grandkids at the house, says Busdicker.