By Keri Forsythe-Stephens
I write this editorial one month to the day after returning from AAMI—a conference that shed light on many important topics affecting the HTM field. Chief among them? Cybersecurity, the fight over service manuals, legislative issues, and the HTM-IT communication breakdown. (The latter subject will be explored extensively in our September issue, so don’t miss out!)
But in the exhibit hall, another issue seemed to dominate people’s conversations: Widespread HTM program closures despite the greying of the field. It’s a problem that 24×7 Magazine cited in last year’s annual Salary Survey, with the median age of survey respondents nearly 50.
So how does the HTM sector ensure a strong pipeline of talent to replace those who are nearing retirement? Cindy Stephens, president of Stephens International Recruiting, Inc., grapples with this question in this month’s installment of Targeting Talent—a new column that addresses staffing challenges in the HTM industry (page 14).
“Put simply,” Stephens writes, “the demand for professionally trained BMETs has grown at a faster rate than our technical programs can provide”—with an estimated 5,000 additional BMETs needed within the next three years. “However, many of our associate-degree-producing schools have closed due to a lack of students,” she points out.
Stephens is clearly not alone in her concerns. Roger Bowles, a biomed professor at Texas State Technical College, also touches on the subject in this month’s Soapbox, “Bringing New Blood to the HTM Field” (page 34). Although I certainly encourage you to read his wise words for yourself, Bowles lays out three ideas for attracting more students to biomedical programs.
His No.1 idea: Encourage employers recruiting for future HTM positions to offer more scholarships and/or sponsorships. After all, Bowles says, “If our program could offer 20 to 30 scholarships per semester (and not necessarily huge scholarships!) from five to 10 different employers, it would be a good recruiting tool—especially through word of mouth.”
Bowles would also like to see more employers on-campus, simply conversing with students and interviewing those who really stand out about post-graduation opportunities. Employer-provided banners lining the halls, as well as pro-HTM brochures, could also make a strong impact in drawing students to the field, Bowles maintains.
Personally, I applaud Bowles and Stephens for shedding light on this very important subject and seeking ways to combat it. But I want to hear from the rest of you, too. How do you think the HTM field should resolve its staffing-related challenges? Email me at kstephens@medqor and let me know.
I just read your article and I am 69 and still working. However, I have tried encouraging young guys who help me occasionally to go to Navy BMET school or tech school and the young guys aren’t interested it seems.
I worked for VA 23 years and started my own business in 1986. My business has been good and put two children through college.
But, in the past 30 years a lot has changed in the medical equipment industry and in my mind competing with medical equipment manufacturers is not a good thing. Too many fingers in the pie, too many people working on equipment that shouldn’t be.
The FDA needs to step in and require that all manufacturers of medical devices devise a Go/NoGo electrical safety feature in the power cord or power supply. Then they should require that all manufacturers perform an annual safety/performance evaluation of their devices and include this in the purchase of it for the lifetime of the equipment.
Manufacturers are “discontinuing” their equipment at an alarming rate and leaving the “old crap” out there in the field without parts and support.
It’s the manufacturers who need to be on the hook for the support of their devices, not the hospitals BMET’s & administrators.