By John Noblitt, MAEd, CBET

This article will be a little different from my usual writings and won’t conclude with four questions about a specific subject. Instead, I’ll be exploring a topic that I felt to be relevant, particularly after the last two weeks spent performing CBET review seminars in Indiana and North Carolina.

The seminars’ attendees were from all over the United States—from California to North Carolina, and everywhere in between. Two things struck me about the attendees: Their educational background was extremely varied, and many of them had no real plan except to become certified. I’d like to address these two issues, as I feel this may be helpful to many who are seeking certification status.

As a biomedical equipment technician program instructor for 25 years, I just assumed that all BMETs in the field have basically taken the same educational classes. However, that does not seem to be the case.

I realize that each school that offers educational degrees in healthcare technology management (HTM) or biomedical sciences differ to some extent, but most have a core set of basic classes, such as AC/DC and digital electronics, classes in medical instrumentation and safety regulations, hopefully a class in anatomy and physiology, possibly a course in physics, and some classes covering basic networking principles or computer repair.

Such classes not only help prepare individuals for employment in the field, but they’re also great foundation classes for certification.

However, to work in this field, you don’t need a two- or four-year degree in a biomedical program to secure employment. In reality, many technicians working in the field may either have a military background, a background in some other form of electronics or technical education, or work experience.

Case in point: During the CBET review seminars, one attendee shared with me that he had a military background. I assumed he was talking about a biomed training in the military, but that was not the case. This person was trained as a radar technician. These insights were a little stunning to me, but they also gave me a better understanding of what certification-seekers may be needing to be fully prepared to take the CBET exam.

If you fall into the category of a working biomed technician who doesn’t have the “classic” BMET education, you will need to learn some basic background information before becoming fully prepared for the exam. One area many technicians are not exposed to if they don’t have the BMET degree is anatomy and physiology. However, it is imperative that exam-takers have a background in this area, as well as an excellent grasp of medical terminology.

After all, anyone seeking certification should have a strong understanding of all the body systems, particularly the cardiovascular, respiratory, nervous, and endocrine systems. Other classes include physics or chemistry, along with a course in safety standards found in National Fire Protection Association 99 and 101. These courses lay the foundation work for such knowledge as pressure, temperature, and chemical behaviors, including those found in the sinoatrial node—information extremely relevant to the CBET exam.

By no means am I implying that the lack of a classical BMET education makes someone deficient at their jobs; many technicians with untraditional HTM backgrounds are extremely competent. However, from a certification standpoint, if you haven’t been exposed to some of the background information mentioned here—such as the theory behind medical technologies—you may face an uphill battle in preparing for your CBET exam.

On the second point regarding lack of planning, I’d like to highlight the need for certification-seekers to have a plan. Some time ago, I wrote an article about how people don’t plan to fail, but rather fail to plan. This applies to just about everything we do, including preparing to become a certified technician. Structure and deadlines help keep us on track to achieve the goals we set not only professionally but also personally. Once you decide you are going to pursue certification, you should set a date for the test.

From that point, you should determine which areas you need to work on the most and set goals to learn the information in a timely manner; that way, you will be prepared to test by your intended deadline. Remember: Planning how to be prepared by your exam date will help keep you on track and motivated during the study process.

I hope you find this information useful and are successful in your quest to become a CBET.

John Noblitt, MAEd, CBET, is the BMET program director at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, Hudson, NC. For more information, contact chief editor Keri Forsythe-Stephens at [email protected].