Lesser-known health care careers are very rewarding - FOX 54 WZDX – Huntsville News, Weather and Sports

Lesser-known health care careers are very rewarding

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(ARA) - Have you looked at career possibilities in health care lately? The health care industry offers a wide array of career choices, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many positions in the medical arena involve operating room (OR) procedures or patient care. Others require totally different skill sets, such as positions in pharmaceuticals or hospital administration. One unique and rewarding career option involves biomedical equipment technology.

These professionals work behind the scenes to install, inspect, maintain and repair medical equipment. From the large CT scanners and patient monitors to electric wheelchairs, every medical device must work properly. David Chappell, chair of the biomedical equipment technology department at Brown Mackie College - Fort Wayne offers insight into this not-so-apparent health care career option.

"Focusing on medical equipment is a way to help people without being in the OR," says Chappell. A career in biomedical equipment technology is about computers and circuit boards, hardware and specialized software, soldering irons and electronic tools. It is also about training doctors and nurses on the use of equipment. The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) reports an average national salary of $ $43,000 for this profession.

Part computer technician, part electrician, part medical worker, the field comprises a blend of medicine with science and technology.

"I find it exciting," Chappell adds. "Most patients take this work for granted; however, it carries huge responsibilities. Doctors, nurses and emergency medical technicians (EMT) workers depend on the equipment to work correctly, with sometimes life or death consequences." This aspect of the profession sends some people running for the doors, while others feel it adds prestige to the position.

A two-year degree program can open the door to the field of biomedical equipment technology. The curriculum is technology-based, with ample medical coursework. On-the-job proficiency involves knowledge of anatomy and physiology, as well as medical terminology.

"Students are sometimes put off by the medical classes," says Chappell. "But it is vital in this uniquely blended industry. Professionals in the field must understand both sides. It is not just a matter of knowing which screw to turn. When working on a medical device, the technician must understand how it does what it does, and how it interacts with the patient."

Working on equipment comprises a large part of a biomedical equipment technician's job responsibilities, but not all. "Techs play different roles," says Chappell. "Primarily, they manage, maintain and repair every single piece of equipment you can imagine, from small to large. Additionally, they are involved in training facility staff on the proper and safe use of the equipment, especially if a particular piece of equipment is often in need of repair. Why is it happening? Are they using it wrong? This often leads to training sessions, where professional communication skills are a must."

Career opportunities in the field are varied. Some biomedical equipment technicians work at hospitals. Others work for manufacturers, who send technicians out to care for equipment housed at medical facilities. Manufacturers also hire bench technicians, who work at the factory to repair and refurbish equipment. Another option is to work for a service company, which contracts with hospitals, clinics and doctor's offices to maintain equipment. "There are thousands of pieces of medical equipment in use today, and many are required by regulation to be maintained monthly or quarterly," says Chappell.

The field also offers opportunities to specialize. "Every workday provides additional training on equipment," he says. "Whether a tech prefers imaging or radiology or ultrasound or laser, he or she may choose to focus on specific high-end equipment. It is not uncommon for a tech to specialize. Specialists are in demand, and can draw a higher salary."

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