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.