By Keri Forsythe-Stephens

As a journalist, few things excite me more than receiving feedback about something I’ve written. So when I received several emails within hours of one another regarding my September UpFront column—“Getting Schooled About Education”—my nerdy heart soared. Y’all read me; y’all really read me! But it wasn’t my column 24×7 readers were passionate about—it was the subject.

Education in the HTM field is a hot—and potentially divisive—topic. Many ideas have been tossed around to combat the current education-related problems plaguing the biomed sector—namely the widespread program closures. Dr. Barbara Christe, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis’ health care engineering technology management program director (and esteemed 24×7 board member), shared her thoughts on the subject in this month’s Soapbox.

Keri Forsythe-Stephens, Chief Editor

Keri Forsythe-Stephens, Chief Editor

Without giving too much away—read her excellent commentary here—Christe looked at the relationship between corporate America and academia and discussed some discrepancies in the HTM field. “While I maintain strong, synergistic relationships with clinical sites around Indianapolis and the state,” she said, “the lack of corporate partnerships is painfully obvious to my administration and myself.”

Also lacking are efforts among educational institutions to promote the biomed field, according to Eric Damasco, a biomed intern at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center. “For prospective students who aren’t pursuing biomed through military service, I think institutions offering biomed programs need to do a better job at high school outreach by getting current students and employed alumni to inspire students and to make biomed an interesting field to pursue,” Damasco wrote in response to my September Soapbox.

A key problem, according to Damasco? “Community colleges, at least in my state, don’t bother to attract high school students to biomed programs and/or non-medical vocational programs, in general, due to a majority of the students knowing they want to study for a transfer degree or for an associate/certificate in a health care profession (i.e., nursing),” he wrote. After all, money talks.

Even so, Washington State Biomedical Association (WSBA) Treasurer Chris Walton, who also responded to my Soapbox column, said he’s had success going around to local high schools to talk about the profession. In fact, he said, roughly 20% of WSBA members are students. Other than doing that, Walton said he’s “at a loss about how to connect to folks who haven’t heard of the field to begin with.” Attracting more women to the profession would also be a good place to start, he wrote in an email.

Do you agree or disagree with these assessments? Drop me a line at [email protected] and let me know. It will make my day.

Keri Forsythe-Stephens is Chief Editor of 24×7.