I spent much of my 12 years as an editor of a nursing magazine covering how difficult it is for a manager to get the job done without enough staff to do it. Sign-on bonuses of $10,000 for ICU nurses were not unheard of at the peak of the nursing shortage.
But while you may not see BMETs offered such lucrative hiring incentives anytime soon, a biomed tech staffing shortage is looming ever larger on the horizon. It is estimated that 5,000 new BMETs will be needed in the next few years alone.
It’s no secret either that the HTM workforce is aging, notes Al Gresch, author of the article “Overcoming the Biomed Tech Shortage” in our August issue. A VP at Accruent follow- ing many years as a HTM department manager, Gresch notes the average age of a level 3 biomed tech is 52, up three years from 2017. In the article, he shares how employing data integrity benchmarks led to a massive decrease in corrective maintenance hours, while increasing the hours techs actually work on equipment by 41%, which allows the team “to get more done with fewer people.”
Compounding the BMET shortage is the recent closing of 33 schools with HTM-related programs, leaving only 22 colleges nationwide graduating 400 BMETs annually, according to AAMI. Jeff Ruiz, technology manager for a hospital in western Michigan, learned this lesson firsthand when he suddenly found his clinical engineering department with two open positions. He was taken aback at how few people applied for the job, and even more surprised at how few educational opportunities were available to teach the biomed techs he was sure to need in the future. So, Ruiz decided to do something to fix the problem, taking a part-time job as an adjunct professor teaching in a clinical bioengineering program at a community college, and, ultimately, hiring two of his students. In his article, “Cultivating Your Own Biomed Tech Talent,” Ruiz shares why other HTM managers may want to consider following his lead.
But perhaps our Industry Insider in the August issue, Jeremy Probst, president and CEO for Technical Prospects, a Siemens imaging replacement parts provider, best sums up the implications of the BMET shortage: “As baby boomers continue to move towards retirement, we will begin to see an even greater talent shortage in healthcare technology management. This means that those engineers who are on staff need to be a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ able to service a wide range of equipment. In addition, imaging equipment continues to grow more complex and difficult to service. Given the current situation, proper training for medical imaging engineers will become even more important.”
Chuck Holt is associate editor for 24×7 Magazine.
I left biomed because of low pay. I enjoyed the job and most of my coworkers, but low pay is removing the trained professionals from this field.
And I feel like as I watch other, younger, biomeds leave for more money elsewhere, that I’m not the only one that thinks this way.
I have a 2 year bmet degree but couldn’t find work in my area after graduation. I took a maintenance job that paid well and now every bmet job that comes up in my area during my interview they tell me I’ve not got enough experience for the position. I’ve been working with electronics for 8 years in my maintenance position but am not as qualified as a new graduate and I’m sure I’m not the only person out there with this problem.
Our System has done exactly this. We have teamed up with Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City and I am about to begin part two of our Biomed eng tech class. We have had 4 biomed tech 2 positions open for a long term time. Also 1 or 2 rad tech positions. We are in a desirable area for the right people but the lack of any qualified applicants to move into tech 2 positions has been far and few between. We currently have 5 students going through the program, one we have already hired in. Numbers are sounding good for the start of the next group in January. So we will be turning out more in the next year and a half but as we all know new technicians take a year or two to get up to speed for independent work ability so really we are 3-4 years out from having qualified tech 2 applicants. It is working though and we eventually will see the fruits of our labors.
This seems like a long way round solution to the problem. That you would utilize a university to share experience that you are helping to provide to the university. Not many organizations could leverage that much resource.
Don’t you remember how you learned, really learned the field. I don’t know anyone very good in the field who learned it in the classroom rather than through strong mentorship of seasoned persons. Good Luck on the actual fixing and maintenance of machines. Rather than the being trusted through documentation portion of the process.
yes , there is a shortage. The pay is absolutely horrible. Some companies pay practically minimum wage for biomeds. A biomed does more than called to do.
These training BMET programs that are coming up are great. Although, we need to get the third party companies into the mix. In many cases they will hire your trainees and contribute very little to the training efforts. In-house programs usually have limited fund to provide adequate salaries and additional training to their techs. Oftentimes the third party companies end up hiring the in-house techs when they are contracted to run the in-house programs.
One of the most difficult things to teach is that BIOMEDS done fix technology, we fix caregivers with technology problems. Schools can only get you so far. Once out of school, BMETs needs the resources to practice the trade. Device specific knowledge parts software and supplies are essential. compounding this issue is the ongoing problem with a significant number of OEMs who believe the national healthcare facilities code with respect to service manuals is something they can blatantly thumb their collective noses at. Techs need factory manuals to read and learn from. Those manuals have to meet the professional standard for labeling as a service manual. This can only be corrected at the point in time when a salesman appears with a device needing a “DEMO sticker” this is where we have the power and can hold them accountable – no manuals, no demo sticker = no sale. 2nd, we next need a parts and service agreement, the PO needs to specify that as a condition of sale that parts and software upgrades will be sold to the Biomed dept. IMHO HTM needs to take back the high ground on demo sticker and one PO# at a time…
Biomed and Imaging tech salaries have lagged for years. Most healthcare institutions giving 2-3% raises along with the less is more but no OT is leading to burn out, IMO….
The shortage doesn’t help if employers aren’t willing to take new BMET grads from local program, provide OJT on their assets, and learn their style of standard operating procedures. School doesn’t teach you everything that an employer expects from the classroom, and neither does an externship where my experience in a hospital did was introduce departments and equipment. I only see this career field only friendly towards veterans who had a military specialty as a BMET. I have been happier to find a similar career in a different industry and I’m no longer willing to go back to becoming a BMET.
In many hospitals, if you are trained on higher priority of medical equipment, you will not get compensated more at any point.