AAMI News May 2018

Forum Participants Tackle HTM Personnel Pipeline Shortage

Future Forum IV
Future Forum participants brainstormed tactics to increase the number of qualified applicants in the HTM pipeline.

What will it take to solve the frustrating problem of a lack of qualified applicants to fill open positions in healthcare technology management (HTM)? According to a group of experts who gathered at AAMI headquarters to dissect this challenge, the solution will only come through a comprehensive three-pronged approach: raising awareness about the field, offering more education programs, and establishing minimum standards for the profession.

That verdict was the upshot of the March 26–27 Future Forum IV. The forum was the latest in a series of meetings hosted by AAMI to address the most challenging issues facing the HTM field.

The succinct summary of how to successfully tackle the HTM personnel shortage belies the complexity of how to execute that solution and bring about real change. To that end, a preliminary plan based on the discussions and ideas generated during the event will serve as a roadmap for AAMI’s new vice president of HTM—an entirely new position—to achieve the association’s strategic objective to strengthen the HTM profession. (See related article.)

During the two-day meeting, a diverse group of 14 HTM professionals and educators worked with AAMI staff and two facilitators to reach a consensus on a set of realistic and actionable items to address the shortage of skilled applicants for open and soon-to-be-open HTM positions.

“I was extremely impressed with the intelligence, professionalism, and mix of the team,” said Heidi Horn, vice president of HTM at SSM Health, which serves the greater St. Louis, MO area. “Everyone had unique perspectives, but the one commonality was that everyone felt very passionate about the HTM profession and wanted to come up with solutions to how we grow the number of qualified applicants entering the field.”

Over the next few years, it is estimated that about 5,000 biomedical equipment technicians (BMETs) will be needed to meet the growing demand for professionally trained and experienced service professionals. At the same time, program closures have left just 22 accredited colleges that graduate approximately 400 BMET students each year.

“Not only are we seeing fewer and fewer schools offer biomedical and clinical engineering curricula and degrees, but those that do aren’t filling all their openings—there’s just not enough awareness about the profession,” Horn said. “We’re going to need the help of everyone in the industry to spread the word about what a rewarding profession HTM is and encourage young people and those who want to change careers to go into it.”

Barbara Maguire, vice president of quality and Geisinger clinical engineering for ISS Solutions, Inc., was encouraged by the plan that she and the other participants developed.

“I think the solutions we came up with will benefit the HTM field by developing more interest from students and renewed excitement from those in the field by reminding them why they love it,” Maguire said.