AAMI News September 2019

Career Center: 'I Passed!' A Career-Long Journey to Certification

Larson Holyoak
Larson Holyoak

After more than three decades working in healthcare technology management (HTM), Larson Holyoak, BS, CHTM, director of clinical engineering at Intermountain Clinical Engineering South Area in Provo, UT, took the advice of his manager to become a certified healthcare technology manager (CHTM).

I have heard it said that our existence on this planet is a series of learning experiences. If we are not learning, then we are stagnating. My first college degree was an AAS in electronics. That was way back in 1980. (As you can see, I have been around a while.) That started me on the continuing education path. While working on my two-year degree, I worked for an integrated circuit (IC) manufacturer doing testing on IC chips. While there, I heard about this job at the hospital in the biomed department. I did not know what that was, but I was intrigued. I started at Intermountain Healthcare in January 1983. I found that maintaining job skills was part of the job and, of course, that requires continual learning. I really enjoyed the work, knowing at the end of the day I had accomplished something good and maybe through my efforts helped improve the care of our patients.

When I first started, I was asked if I wanted to become a certified biomedical equipment technician (CBET), but it was not really required, so I did not pursue certification. Eventually I was promoted to shop supervisor.
Taking on management responsibilities required more learning. Intermountain Healthcare offers courses for their managers, and I took advantage of those as I grew into my career.

I was eventually promoted to director. This position required a bachelor’s degree, so at age 48 I went back to college. With my children grown up and gone, study became a lot easier than when I was working on my AAS degree. Funny how that works.

I am fortunate enough to work for a boss and a company that values learning. About three years ago, my manager encouraged me to think about getting certified as an HTM manager. He told me the company would pay for my testing fee and future recertification fees. Several of my staff are CBETs, and I felt it was important to prove that I was willing to make the effort to obtain certification.

CHTM is, as the very name suggests, about management. The test contains questions on finance, risk management, operations management, education and training, and human resources. These are the very things I learned earning my bachelor’s degree. So, I pulled out old school assignments and manuals and studied them.

We have an authorized testing center in Salt Lake City, UT, which is about 45 minutes away from where I live, so I signed up to take the AAMI test. At check-in, I felt like I was going through airport security. They gave me a little bag and asked me to put in my wallet, keys, cellphone, and anything else in my pockets. Then they checked my hands and arms to make sure I didn’t have anything written on them. They gave me a pencil and a pad of paper and led me into the testing center. Now if all of that didn’t make me nervous, they informed me that if I needed to use the restroom, now was the time.

Taking tests in not my forte. But I buckled down and went at it. After three hours I finished and hit the submit button. One thing nice about computer testing is you get immediate feedback on whether you passed or not. I passed! I wanted to stand up and shout, but I stymied myself and did a little internal dance instead.

Continuing education is so important. Certification is part of that. As more of us obtain certification, we will show the medical world that we as an HTM group are serious about what we do. Certification just makes sense.