Julie Kirst, Editor
Julie Kirst, Editor

Anonymity can lead to liberation, especially when it comes to candid conversation about an employee’s work environment. Comments made without recrimination often yield significant insights that can produce positive changes.

In 24×7’s Compensation Survey published this month (full version here online), members of the industry reflected on the obstacles they face and offered some solutions. The concerns that rose to the top were not enough staff, not enough pay for the type of work performed, not enough respect or recognition considering the importance of the work, and not enough people who know about the profession. All of this is leading to a dearth of new blood entering the field. Each of these areas may seem to stand alone, but in reality I see them as connected to one another.

Every day I receive missives with information about Senate hearings on prescription drug plans and general discussions about the dismal state of health care in America. The reality is that health care is a business. Hospitals—where the majority of our readers work—are ultimately businesses that must employ strategies to rise above the challenges presented.

Aware of it or not, biomedical/clinical engineering departments in hospitals are also businesses. To convince hospital administrators to hire the needed help in understaffed departments and make other changes, biomed departments must learn to convey their significant cost-saving accomplishments in bottom-line dollar amounts. When administrators begin to see the significant contribution to profits, the call for extra employees may be understood and honored. Better pay may also be forthcoming when administrators realize that the work biomeds do contributes to the streamlined workflow of clinicians.

More money and less stress resulting from extra help lead to more job satisfaction. In turn, this leads to a greater willingness to recommend the profession. With an improved work environment and salary, more people will be interested in joining the profession.

These are basic, yet simplistic, answers to issues that encompass broader concerns, and it seems that each biomed must begin to track when money is saved or when biomed rounds avert a potential equipment problem and expense. Reporting these on a monthly or quarterly basis to management and then to administrators could be the first step in acquiring the work solutions that so many in our survey deeply want. The respondents are proud of the work they do, but feel less than optimistic about the industry’s outlook.

Political and spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Take the initiative and work with others to advocate for the industry and form the profession that you desire.

Julie Kirst