This video adapted from ATETV features Monica Colòn, a medical electronics engineering technology major at Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology. Monica is studying to be a biomedical technician, a job that will challenge her to operate and maintain electronic medical equipment that hospitals need to function. One of Monica’s instructors explains how his embedded processors class—a mix of lectures and hands-on labs—helps prepare students like Monica for their careers. The video also emphasizes that good communication skills, in addition to math and electronics know-how, are deemed very important by potential employers.
Combining traditional engineering expertise with an understanding of biological processes, biomedical technicians (also called biomedical equipment technicians, or BMETs) install, calibrate, maintain, and repair medical equipment used in hospitals and other healthcare settings. A BMET's role can literally be life saving, as the equipment he or she maintains is used by medical staff to diagnose, treat, or otherwise assist patients. Examples of such equipment include X-ray and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines, computerized axial tomography (CAT) scanners, heart monitors, pacemakers, and laboratory analysis equipment.
People who work as BMETs enjoy the challenge of fixing mechanical devices. To keep modern medical equipment up and running, they need to be familiar with electronics technology. They must also be able to assist physicians and nurses in the use of the equipment and, when new equipment is needed, help hospital administrative and purchasing staff research and evaluate options.
Many BMETs enter their profession with a two-year associate's degree in biomedical equipment technology, electronics, or an engineering-related field. A degree program's curriculum is typically structured to provide core technical courses in the areas of analog circuits, digital circuits, and processor circuits and programming, as well as core math courses in algebra and trigonometry. Because they will be working in the healthcare sector, BMET students must also learn about medical device systems, patient safety, and ever-changing federal and state regulations that relate to both.
BMET graduates are typically employed by hospitals or by service companies hired by hospitals. They may also find work in medical or pharmaceutical research facilities that use similar equipment. New BMETs can expect to work as assistants for three to six months. They are trained on each piece of medical equipment in a lab or facility and may also attend training courses. Some BMETs are employed by equipment manufacturers to work in new product development and testing roles, as field support technicians, or in product sales.
As in other fields, like nursing, where educational requirements are increasing, more and more students in the BMET field are pursuing four-year bachelor's degrees before entering the workforce. In fact, according to many BMET program chairs, a four-year degree is becoming a requirement to advance beyond entry-level positions with many employers. As medical equipment becomes more and more integrated with a hospital's computer system and related technologies, BMETs are challenged to take more of a systems-oriented approach to their work. In other words, the focus of the job is no longer just on maintaining a single, standalone piece of medical equipment. Rather, it's on making sure equipment that functions as part of a broader medical system is running properly. This approach calls for higher levels of training and education.
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