The experience of Donald Gillespie speaks volumes to the rapidly changing nature of healthcare technology and the transformative way in which it is reshaping careers in the field. Gillespie, who recently worked as a biomedical equipment technician (BMET) at a small hospital in North Carolina, noted how the influx of devices with network capabilities has placed new demands on the skillset of BMETs. “Because everything's on the electronic health record now, anything that comes in has to be hooked to the network,” he said in our cover story (p. 156).
To address this need, Gillespie decided to break from the workaday world and go back to school to study information systems full time. In two years, after taking coursework in programming, cybersecurity, and other areas dealing with information technology (IT)—and earning a degree in computing technology and information systems—Gillespie plans to re-emerge with the skills necessary to be a “liaison between the BMETs, the IT department, and health informatics.”
Larry Hertzler, vice president of technical operations with Aramark in Charlotte, NC, highlighted the importance of organizations supporting their technicians—for example, through continuing education focusing on IT skills—during this indisputable metamorphosis toward a clinical engineering/IT landscape. “If people entering the profession can get the basic fundamentals in electronics and IT while they're in school, and then use those ongoing education opportunities and on-the-job training to develop specific skills once they're in the field, I think they'd be prepared for just about anything,” he said.
Those who are on board with this evolution are sure to reap the benefits of a career that is unquestionably poised for precipitous growth. In a 2015 Money magazine article titled “The 5 Best Jobs You've Never Heard Of,” the BMET occupation and four others were cited as “still under-the-radar careers—all of which are growing at a rate far greater than the 11% national average.” The author noted that BMET job growth through 2022 is projected at 30%. And being a BMET is just one option in the fast-growing field of healthcare technology management. Other experts have pointed to the need for more clinical engineers and systems engineers in healthcare.
If the cat's not out of the bag already, it won't be staying there much longer.