Getting the word out

MarcheseEavesdrop on a group of biomeds and their managers and you’ll likely hear that there’s never enough — time, money, training, opportunities, interest, resources. The list continues ad infinitum.

(The story on page 24, “Star Search: The hunt for BMETs,” also describes some of those problems and the collaborations, compromises and co-operative ventures being explored to resolve them.)

But another of the complaints that makes the rounds of all the conferences and conversations — one often blamed for the lack of all the above — is the profession’s lack of visibility.

At this year’s Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI), American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) and other conferences, for example, speakers, panelists and audience members all offered suggestions for raising the profile of the profession.

Networking helps, some said.

So does joining professional societies, especially if those groups make an attempt to cut across department lines and expose others in the healthcare organization to the world of biomeds and clinical engineering.

Getting involved in cost-cutting projects or planning processes also helps biomeds register on people’s radar.

Consider, however, a most simple, basic first step. Paraphrase an old adage to read, “Visibility begins at home.” Or, in this case, visibility begins at your own hospital, clinic or base of operations.

What prompts that thought?

 Too many times, when I’ve put in calls to hospitals across the country requesting to be connected to the clinical engineering department or the biomed group, the hospital receptionist or operator has no idea what either of those entities is. If I’m lucky, I at least get plant engineering or maintenance, where it’s just a quick switch to the correct party. If I’m not, it takes several transfers through assorted departments to make the right connection — mainly because who biomeds are and what they do doesn’t appear to resonate within the organization itself.

In the grand scheme of things, an operator’s or various departmental personnel’s not knowing what biomeds are or what they do may seem like small potatoes, but it sure gets one thinking. Who else within the hospital doesn’t know of your existence or, more importantly, your scope? What does the clinical staff know about biomeds? Does the nursing staff know the extent of your expertise? Do administrators know how you can save them money? Do project directors know as a matter of course to include a biomed in equipment-planning discussions? While men and women in numerous professions are often secure in the knowledge that they perform their jobs well, that self-assurance and satisfaction doesn’t automatically earn them recognition from their colleagues or elevate their profile within the organization.

By all means, network. Join professional societies. And get involved.

And it certainly wouldn’t hurt to let everybody, at every level, know you’re around. It’s clichéd, but true: Sell yourself. Sell the profession. Get the word out.

c_Marchese_sig.gif (2450 bytes)