Are You Licensed?

 After further thought on the subject of licensing BMETs (see Soap Box: “Are You Licensed?” by Binseng Wang, June 24×7), may I state that additional regulation of us can only serve to drive the best and brightest to IS (information services) or anywhere that has the promise of better pay and/or less grief. Certification has not helped us — not because it was not mandatory, but because it was not providing the needed guarantee that certified people knew what they were doing and that noncertified people did not.

Sadly, too many in our field have been devalued by the constant emphasis upon tightening the requirements for entrance into biomedical engineering and by our own leaders devaluing our qualifications. Most devalued seems to be experience. Next is education. No one should deny the value of training or experience, but it happens! Look at the requirements for working in your healthcare facility on computers; compare them with biomed; then compare the salaries and work environment. Then you will know why so many leave us for IS!

Additional concerns:

Will we be paid more if licensed?

Probably not. Even if we are, it is doubtful that it will compensate us for our extra expenses, time and grief.

Will we be more respected?

Let’s see: Doctors get way more education, have an internship and residency to do, and get much more money. How much difference will that license make to them?

Will it aid us in getting and keeping jobs?

Possibly, but only if the licensing authority is respected and if the procedure for granting licenses really succeeds in limiting the issuance of licenses to those who are truly qualified. Also necessary will be widespread recognition of the value of the licenses in the healthcare industry.

What licensure will do in the beginning is reduce the number of people in the labor pool by providing yet another hurdle to overcome.

The most important question to be answered is: Are the real benefits of licensure worth the costs?

Not to me.

We would be better off with a modern version of an apprenticeship program. And managers who know biomed and have the goal of our delivering the best outcomes.

G. P. Williamson
Illinois