Owens Community College; news from the Midwest; photos from North Carolina Biomedical Association Annual Symposium

 Owens Community College Prepares BMETs for Real Life
In fall 1974, Owens Community College (OCC) in Toledo, Ohio, introduced a 2-year associate-degree program in biomedical equipment technology (BMET). This was a response to a need for trained technicians in the biomedical and related technical (electromedical) equipment fields.

The principle objective of the BMET program at OCC is to ensure that its graduates are properly educated and trained in the field and immediately employable upon graduation. As part of this program, the college requires all BMET students to participate in a cooperative internship program during their second year.

The internship program has several advantages:

  • Students have the opportunity to integrate classroom theory with clinical experience.
  • Students are exposed to the various manufacturers and service organizations involved with calibration, repair, maintenance, and new equipment selection.
  • The cooperating employers have the opportunity to educate and evaluate prospective employees.
  • Students are able to evaluate prospective employers.

Before beginning the internship, students receive training in the classroom and campus laboratory. The in-class and laboratory work includes DC and AC circuit analysis and electronics I, technical mathematics, chemistry, basic life science, and the general education requirements of composition, technical writing, and psychology. During the cooperative internship year, students complete courses in electronics II, digital circuits, biomedical instrumentation I and II, networks, C programming, analog systems, physics, and computer diagnosis.

The internship requires students to attend a 3-hour weekly lecture and spend at least 10 hours per week, for a minimum of 320 hours over two 16-week semesters, working at the same host institution. Interns must work a minimum of 4 hours per day, although many opt for more.

The internships are the capstones of students’ educations. The goals of the experience should be clearly defined, sufficiently encompassing, and achievable. The internship should include:

  • Instruction and observation in the safe and proper use of biomedical equipment.
  • Hands-on experience with biomedical and related technical equipment, troubleshooting, and repair.
  • Exposure to and training in equipment control, preventive maintenance scheduling, safety testing, and documentation.
  • Exposure to the administration duties, responsibilities, liabilities, and ethics of the BMET.

The time that interns devote to the four areas of content vary with host institutions and interns. OCC recommends that 75% to 80% of the interns’ time be spent in the hands-on category, with the remainder spent in other categories the host institution deems appropriate. Implementation of the cooperative internship program depends on the facilities, equipment, personnel, and programs of the host institution.

The ideal host institution is a teaching and research facility with the capability to provide the full range of experience for BMET interns. It should have a well-developed biomedical equipment program or clinical engineering department, as well as a full complement of diagnostic, clinical, and surgical laboratories.

Supervision of the interns is assigned by the directors or the heads of the biomed departments. Initially, interns may be supervised by department heads, who are knowledgeable about the hospital’s organization, policy, and procedures. Following this orientation period, interns may be assigned to biomedical technicians or rotated among the technicians for the “working” part of the internship.

During the hands-on portion of the internship, the interns work with the BMETs to complete the clinical experience schedule for biomedical instrumentation I and II. The cooperative internship experience schedule is as generic as possible and specifics vary from institution to institution. The BMETs and/or department heads will also instruct the interns in equipment control, safety testing, and documentation. The interns also gain experience in clinical operating procedures under the supervision of clinicians responsible for operating particular pieces of equipment and by reviewing pertinent literature.

Student responsibilities include performing the duties and meeting the obligations of the cooperative internship program and submitting a written report describing the experience. Included in this report is a monthly time sheet documenting hours worked. Students are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner, just as if they were regular employees of the host institutions.

The cooperative internship is a learning rather than a working experience, and the host institutions assume no responsibility for housing or monetary compensation. Since interns receive academic credit, their performances are evaluated by the host institutions’ supervisors and OCC faculty members.

Because interns work with patient-related equipment and in patient areas, they may become liable. A blanket liability insurance policy from a company that specializes in medical liability coverage is purchased for the interns using their laboratory fees. OCC faculty members are also covered under this policy while at the host institution.

In addition to the internship program, OCC has also introduced a distance-learning via video-teleconferencing program. It is designed to meet the needs of biomedical departments facing a shortage of technicians trained in biomedical instrumentation.

Under this program, biomedical engineering departments at health care facilities can hire an experienced electronics technician or an electronics technician from an associate-degree program. An electronics technician working in the biomedical department can complete the specialized BMET courses in 2 years and remain employed by the facility. The technician enrolls in a local community college’s chemistry and physiology/anatomy courses, which must be equivalent to such courses taught at OCC.

These two courses are then transferred to OCC, and the technician enrolls in the two biomedical courses taught via video teleconferencing. The clinical/internship component is not required for electronics technicians with biomedical engineering department experience. Once the electronics technician has successfully completed the two biomedical courses and transferred the chemistry and physiology/anatomy courses to OCC, the college issues a certificate in biomedical electronics.

24×7 thanks Paul Svatik, professor of biomedical electronics at Owens Community College, for providing this overview.

News From the Midwest
On December 10, 2003, the Biomedical Association of Southeastern Wisconsin held a meeting at GE Medical Systems in Milwaukee, Wis. A dinner was followed by presentations by GE Medical Systems and newly acquired Instrumentarium.

David Boccia (GE) and Jerry Gillis (Instrumentarium) described how, by taking the best practices from each company, service integration strengthens the delivery of service to all of GE’s customers.

Paul Pejsa, who is product manager, global services, clinical systems at GE spoke about plans for productivity enhancements that will allow for improved customer interface. One such plan, now in its pilot stage involves free Web-based self-service tools that will allow users to identify and order parts, review warranties and service contracts, check the status of repairs, and obtain return authorization numbers.

Other proposals include a “weekend hero kit” and improved installation instructions for repair parts.

The presentations were followed by tours of GE’s production line and demo room.

New Advanced Survey Meter Introduced
Cardinal Health Inc announced late last year the availability of its new radiation measurement tool for health care professionals, the Victoreen Advanced Survey Meter 990 (ASM 990).

The meter measures radiation to the demanding specifications of health and medical physics applications. The product is designed for radiation safety officers, nuclear medicine practitioners, diagnostic x-ray technologists, hospital emergency room technicians, and environmental health physicists.

“The ASM 990 is designed to provide the information management capabilities demanded by today’s industry professionals,” says Susan Janney, director of product development for Cardinal Health’s Radiation Management Services business.

The ASM 990 navigates smoothly through each menu with a convenient multifunction key. It incorporates a peak hold function for surveying packages, advanced data logging capabilities with user-defined protocols, real-time clock and calendar that allow time and date stamp for all logged readings, setting alarm and action levels, and retrieving logged data. An optional bar-code scanner and IR data transfer capability is available to automate the transfer-logged measurements, virtually eliminating transcription errors.

A Peek at the 2003 NCBA Symposium

 Outgoing NCBA board members, from left:
Sally Goebel, Mark Renfroe. Linda Leitch, Helen Jones, Sam Wright, Boyd Campbell
 Michael McNeil receives the Norman Reeves Scholarship from Doug Brown of sponsor PartsSource
 Newly elected 2004 NCBA board members from left: David Wilson, Mike McCoy, Chad Granade, Crisci Fleming, and Tom Barnes
 Exhibit hall at 2003 NCBA Annual Symposium
 The NCBA Booth

New Diagnostic Software Solution
In December 2003, Quest International launched its PM Medivisor, a new software solution for management of Totoku displays.

The system tracks, monitors, and reports data for each Totoku display within a facility via client-server interface. PM Medivisor was designed to save time and money typically associated with routine maintenance of LCD displays throughout a facility. With the PM Medivisor, the same data is automatically collected from all Totoku displays and reported to a central IT workstation in real time.

“By automating the operational data collection from the Totoku displays, not only are time and resources freed, but also maintaining the quality of the medical imaging displays in large installations has become faster, easier, and much less expensive,” says Herb Berkwits, product manager for Quest.