Avoiding Burnout as a BMET

May 24, 2022


HTM Insider Colleen

Thu, 5/12 9:21AM • 23:21


biomed, burnout, colleen, pandemic, htm, hospital, stress, shop, people, industry, equipment, groups, husband, organization, work, talk, documentation, stressor, day, ideas


Chyrill Sandrini, Colleen Haugen-Ortiz


Chyrill Sandrini  00:00

Hi, welcome back to htm Insider. I’m Chyrill Sandrini with MultiMedical Systems. And really happy to bring you a topic today that I think will touch everybody in the industry. First, I’d like to introduce my friend Colleen, we go backseveral years from CMIA San Diego and now she’s living across the country. Still doing good work as a biomed Colleen, thanks for being here. You want to introduce yourself to everyone?


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  00:26

Hi, I’m Colleen Haugen-Ortiz. I have been in the industry since 2014. background with a I was an Army biomed and then get out of the Army, joined GE and work my way through the ranks. And now I am a quality specialists with GE, and work with the actual program.


Chyrill Sandrini  00:48

Very nice. And I think your husband’s also biomed. Right?


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  00:51

Yeah, he’s a navy biomed over at Walter Reed.


Chyrill Sandrini  00:55

Very cool. Keep it in the family, right?


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  00:59

Yes, for sure.


Chyrill Sandrini  01:01

I can’t imagine your little ones a week turning wrenches before you know it.


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  01:05

Oh, he already has a toolkit.


Chyrill Sandrini  01:07

Very good. Very good. Well, today, folks, what we’re gonna talk about is burnout in the biomed. industry, especially everyone going through COVID. We know that I mean, gosh, there’s been so many demands put on you. And your teams, if you’re a manager, I mean, from equipment to repairs to COVID patients, purchasing the equipment that wasn’t out there to purchase? So Colleen, let’s just talk about it. What is burnout? In the biomed Industry? How do you see it?


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  01:42

Burnout is to me, I know when I hit my burnout point, is stress, you’re to the point that you’re stressed and you are exhausted, and just the amount of stuff coming your way you start dropping the ball. And it’s completely fair, you know, it’s not your fault that you’re dropping the ball, you know that I want to throw that out there.


Chyrill Sandrini  02:05

Right? And how does stress look? Is it the same for everyone? Or?



No, it’s definitely not the same for everybody. I know, some people, you know, some people, it’s very visible, you know, you get those who get irritated very easily. And then you get those who you know, implode versus explode. You know, there are very varying types of stress.


Chyrill Sandrini  02:29

So right now, in the HTM world, have you seen anyone address this yet?


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  02:35

I haven’t. And that’s one reason why I did my LinkedIn post is, no one’s talking about it, you know, it’s definitely not being talked about at all. And I felt like it’s something that I wanted to put out there. And, you know, put some thought into it, because I hear all about nurses and having the nursing burnout, but there are more people in the healthcare industry, not to take away from the nurses, because their job is I give them high fives, you know, as often as I can, but you know, there are those of us that don’t get the same recognition or, you know, any recognition. So I do want to throw that out there and give, you know, love to everybody.


Chyrill Sandrini  03:15

Right, because I think that biomed industry is often the, you know, the heroes behind the door. Right? And I don’t think that the biomed industry is recognized as healthcare professionals until recently, I think that it’s changing. But let’s go back on stress and burnout. Is it the over work? Is it the stress of dealing with COVID? Is it you know, working with other staff members? What do you think specifically could be targeted as a stressor in a biomed’s life?


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  03:53

So I think a lot of it started before the pandemic because there were a lot of staffing issues before the pandemic, pre pandemic, you know, we are retiring field. And so getting staffing that has the skill set to be able to come into the biomed industry, and then you know, pick up where, you know, you have this tech that has been working 30 years and knows, you know, everything left and right, and then you know, they retired and someone else comes in and picks up where they have known, you know, it’s definitely a learning curve. And a technical curve, you know, trying to get the competencies up to par and trying to find the staff with the type of technical knowledge that was pre pandemic, then you throw in the pandemic, and hospitals are wanting at the terminal turn of a dime. We are turning our peds department into a COVID unit. So there’s a equipment movement and things that need to happen. And you’re having to drop your normal loads for special projects. Now, you know Your normal pm loads and your repair loads and then take care of the special projects and, you know, getting called left and right and oh, yeah, we need you to go into this COVID room also. And you know, things that are not thought about is nursing staff, they get training on the N-95 fitting, biomeds don’t get that training, they don’t get the N-95 fitting, you know, they don’t get the same type of training, but a nursing staff would get to be able to go into an environment like that.


Chyrill Sandrini  05:32

So with diplomas that you’re close to and including your husband, what was that like to think that you might be bringing home? biomed I mean, a sorry, a COVID to your home as a biomed.


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  05:44

So I had my son, the first day of lockdown. His only God, march 12. I had him in my hospital, because I mean, why wouldn’t I, you know, I serviced all my own equipment. So I made a point to have him in my hospital because I knew what works. That’s good. Yeah. And, um, my husband went out to get me a burger after I had my son, and they wouldn’t let him back into the hospital. Now, that’s leave my husband outside, but I wanted my burger. So


Chyrill Sandrini  06:18

priorities, right. There’s nothing, there’s nothing like the hunger after childbirth, I can, I can feel you on that one.


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  06:27

And it was like eight o’clock at night. So the, you know, the cafeteria shut down. So there’s no food in this hospital. So I want my burger. But, um, to the point, you know, I had my son right at the beginning of that, and I was ready to take my child and hide in the closet until this pandemic is over, you know, early on, we didn’t know, you know, what this meant, you know, we had no idea what was going on or anything. And so I feel fortunate in some ways that I had my maternity leave at the beginning of the pandemic, because there were so many, you know, I was still in touch with my hospital and in between the supply chain issues as PPE, and all that stuff is concerned, and my shop, you know, catching COVID, and, you know, having to be out of the shop for so long, there was just, you know, chaos, and especially with the different lockdown procedures back then. So when one person caught COVID, everyone was exposed. So here you go, having a whole shop, having to go out and quarantine, you know, who’s supposed to take over then, you know, maybe someone from a different hospital now is covering two hospitals, you know, yeah. So it when I came back, that actually happened. My whole shop, went into quarantine, from two hospitals. And I ended up being the only biomed that wasn’t exposed to anybody and had to cover three hospitals, two surgery centers. And luckily, we were able to bring in some outside help from like, you know, further down the state. But I’m the only one who like knows the customer. So I bring the help in and they can kind of help with like answering the phones and being a body but they don’t know the customer. They don’t know what’s going on. They don’t even know their way around the hospital. So I’m kind of having to run to different places to kind of help out and make sure everyone you know, is happy for about two weeks. But that was stressful.


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  08:32

Oh, yeah. I was I was at that point. I was like, Okay, I’m ready to work in the back office now.


Chyrill Sandrini  08:38

Right. What do you do to cope with your own stress? What do you and your husband as both biomeds do to you know, get back on track and relieve some of that stress and avoid that burnout?


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  08:47

I we’re both like studious type of people. So my husband likes to study. He actually recently just got his N+ and his S+ and a CBET in the last year allow. Yeah. And me. I’m also in college courses right now trying to finish up on my bachelor’s and so between that just you know, hanging out with my little two year old now.


Chyrill Sandrini  09:19

That’s an interest relief. Right. Playing with a two year old brings you back to what’s important, right?


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  09:24

Yep. Yep. It comes with its own different kinds of stressors. But you know, when they when they hug you and smile and you know, unconditionally, just love you. You’re just like, Okay, I’m back down in Earth now.


Chyrill Sandrini  09:39

Right. So let’s say if we had to build something, what are some steps that each individual shops or programs like yours or any in house programs, what would you say are some ways that we can affect change and avoid that burnout? Do you have an ideas for us Colleen?


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  10:00

I feel like in some ways, we need to go back to the basics. You know, part of like what I do now, I work quality now. So I do a lot of SR audits and I can see the burnout. You know, I take, I take service reports from different time periods, you know, quarterly, I pull SRS quarterly, and I audit them. And I can see the continual, if they’ve been getting worse and worse and worse. And to me, you know, when I see things like that, documentation is probably one of the first things to go when you’re burnt out, you know, when you’re tired. Documentation is just like, I don’t want to deal with this, like, I’m gonna go do my job. And, you know, it’s one of the harder things to keep up with when you’re tired and burnt out. And I can see that on that end, that it’s progressively getting worse. And I feel like we just kind of need to stop and get back to the basics, you know, remember what it is we’re here for?


Chyrill Sandrini  11:03

Right? So how can a manager help their team, get back to the basics, if you’re a manager of a shop, what would be some steps that you might use to affect change?


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  11:17

Teambuilding. You know, that’s something that I think is not utilized enough. You know, in the military, that’s one thing that they do a huge focus on is team building and working together as a team. And even you know, with a pandemic, they haven’t done things like Christmas parties as much anymore, or, you know, things that where people have to come together on kind of an outside of the organization, you know, sort of basis because of you no restrictions and other things like that, to where now it’s just sort of like, Okay, we’re here, we’re working, we’re getting the job done, we go home and do the same thing the next day, you know? So I think, you know, doing team building exercises, things like that would be a good start.


Chyrill Sandrini  12:06

Do you feel like biomed have a lot of say, in their shops on how they can affect change? Or are we just too busy?


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  12:15

It really depends. It depends on the shop, some shops are quieter than others, you know, and some bio meds, you know, might have more pull than others as well, depending on their organization.


Chyrill Sandrini  12:30

Yeah, and I agree with you, I think team building is great. And in the military does set that example for, you know, biomeds across the nation, Southern California biomeds. You know, I know, you went to that group, when you guys were down there in San Diego, that was a great group of just casual type of events, the picnic, the getting together, like you said, when we can’t get together in person, which I know it’s lifting, it’s getting better. I think groups, right, Zoom groups, Facebook groups, I think that no one understands exactly what a biomed does. So you can lean on one another. So are you involved in any of that type of activity and you know, meeting with other biomed outside of your shop or your system.


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  13:20

So I am involved with the AAMI Technology Management Council. So I do get to talk to other biomeds outside of my you know, organization, in a sort of subcommittee, you know, we have subcommittees in which we meet up and we discuss different things that are different topics and stuff that we want to either come up with guidelines or come up with, you know, different types of guidances that kind of help the organization out different ideas to help the organization out. And, you know, that’s something that we, we, of course, there’s a lot of shop talk, you know, you can’t get vitamins together without having a shop talk. So that, you know, I do get a little bit of interaction outside of the organization that way. And then internally, we we do like little teams on game nights, you know, or like, it’s like once a quarter cell where we do like, trivia, trivia night or something on Zoom. We’re afternoon, we’ll call trivia afternoon casino, they don’t really want to take us outside of our work hours, but


Chyrill Sandrini  14:30

Now that’s a great idea. So a biomed is out there. And you know, he or she’s in a shop and they’re just feeling the weight on their shoulders, right. And they’ve got other staff members out on COVID. So now they might be working some overtime, and it’s just go, go, go go go all the time. Let’s talk about some steps that they can use, right? I mean, there’s breathing techniques, right? There’s meditation. What are some other things that you could think of cool I think that might be beneficial that we could give some tools in the toolbox because we know, our biomeds love tools in their toolbox out for sure to reduce that stress and avoid that burnout. What are some ideas you have


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  15:12

Reaching out, you know, we have so many different groups on like LinkedIn, we have groups on Facebook, you know, and, you know, you can just get on one of those groups, and someone’s posting some funny picture of a piece of equipment with a, you know, funny sort of broken sticker on it, and, you know, stuff like that just reach out. We are even though like, we’re a small field, we’re a very tight knit field, you know, it is a small world, I ran into people that I was in the military with all across the United States, you know, it’s, it’s a small field and just reach out, you know, talk to people. If you have a question, if you, you know, just need someone to blow some steam off with, you know, we’re always willing to talk to each other and be there for each other, support each other doesn’t matter if you work for a competitor or anything, you know.


Chyrill Sandrini  16:09

I agree. It’s a very tight knit community. And I also think getting outside because a lot of our biomed shops are located where?


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  16:17

In the basement, and the base, we have caves.


Chyrill Sandrini  16:21

No windows, no fresh air, and a lot of long hours and long days and not seeing the sunshine or


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  16:30

not on the head. I remember days where I would come in, it’s dark, I’d leave it’s dark. And it would be like that, you know, every day. It does get to you.


Chyrill Sandrini  16:43

It does and I think getting outside and the fresh air and just the sunshine itself invigorates you, right, and it makes you remember that you’re part of a bigger picture in this world and you’re doing good work.


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  17:00

One of my things was I would go to the NICU, you know, it’s, it’s weird and whatever. But I would, I would sometimes make a trip to the NICU and kind of have a reminder, like, you know, if I’m having a day where I’m like, Oh, I hate my job, I hate my life. You know, I go up to the NICU and just kind of have a reminder, like, there’s these little babies here connected to all these pieces of equipment. You know,


Chyrill Sandrini  17:24

yeah, that’s, that’s good. I really liked that. And I really think two hobbies and interest outside of the HTM industry, help you grow and help you reduce that stress and burnout, whether for me it’s cooking, it might be woodworking or camping or some other activities. What are some things that you can see or have seen other biomes? That you’re kind of surprised like, Oh, that’s a really cool hobby.


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  17:56

Oh, one of my co workers. He did like classic radio. Like, you know, like, you call those things like walkie talkie ones, but you would talk to people all over the world. How can it Yeah, you know, they would have a big antenna on top of their car. And like, literally, it’s called ham


Chyrill Sandrini  18:15

radio. Yeah. Yes. That.


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz

And that was just completely weird and interesting, you know, just fascinating that he talked to people all over the world. And you know, I always told myself, if the world were to come to an end, I’d be hanging out with him, because he’d be the only one be in touch with anybody.


Chyrill Sandrini  18:33

That’s good. That’s good. Is there any others you can think of as far as hobbies, or maybe you or your husband? You know, and I say you study a lot, but maybe there’s something fun in there.


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  18:45

I do watercolor painting. Pretty well. That’s I like to paint. I’m not any good at it. But I try.


Chyrill Sandrini  18:54

I bet you it kind of relaxes you a little, but you get started thinking about something different. And that that’d be something that I’d want to share with everyone is find something that brings you joy outside of your workspace that isn’t connected to it. Right? Just so you can go all in.


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  19:11

I had co workers that were in love with the gym, you know, and if they came in early enough, they just go up to rehab and do a workout before before work. Not that great. They were testing the equipment. They were making sure the equipment was working effectively. You know, you don’t want you know, a treadmill to stop or someone’s trying to run on it.


Chyrill Sandrini  19:29

Right. Exactly. Exactly. Yeah, I think there’s a lot of things out there, take up something new. I think that when we learn something new, it reduces our stress. Whether maybe you’ve never Gault, maybe you want to try to golf. Maybe you’ve always thought well you know what, I want to be a cornhole champion or bowling champion or, or just to do something that’s fun, that’s new. And I think that keeps you going it gives you more energy into your job and makes you more of a creative person at work. Do you agree with that?


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  20:04

I completely agree with that.


Chyrill Sandrini  20:07

Maybe it’s a new language, right? I mean, that’s always fun. Healthcare Technology is a language of its own.


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  20:15

For sure, for sure. It gets interesting. When you’re doing documentation, it gets pretty interesting when they type in the technical lingo of everything. And we’re like, I wonder if the customer would understand that.


Chyrill Sandrini  20:31

Right? Yeah, there’s a lot of times I even asked, you know, I’m not turning a wrench, but I do get pretty involved in in the biomed. Industry and the shops. And I’m like, What are they talking about? What is that it was not an endoscope, I get kind of lost. But yeah, the documentation and getting the information back to your clients, right, and join and Join your local groups, right? Whether it’s CLA, AZ htm, any of them across the United States, because there’s a lot of them, what what groups do you have in your area?


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  21:10

And we have the bolt? I know that there’s a biomed group in Baltimore. And then I do know that there is a Virginia group as well, that’s near me.


Chyrill Sandrini  21:18

Yeah, that biomed group, they’re in Baltimore, they get the Met, right.


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  21:23

I believe that’s what they call it. Yeah,


Chyrill Sandrini  21:24

they’re very active. There’s a lot of great people that attend that. And there’s a lot of great education that’s out there. ls MC Hammer at places where you can, you know, have some food and drinks and and, you know, get to know your fellow Biomedicine in your area, which I think is great.


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  21:40

And there’s so many conferences, you know, I’ve been to the MD Expo, I’ve been to the AAMI couple of AAMI conferences as well, and CMI. Has their conference over last when I went to was in Los Angeles. You know, so those conferences, not only are you getting some great information that will help you and your career but you know, you’re making some really good contacts.


Chyrill Sandrini  22:06

I agree. 100% Well, Colleen, it’s been nice having you on today or drawing this to a close but we end every podcast with your wow, what is your word or your words of wisdom to leave with our listeners today?


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  22:21

So I am going to quote a quote, one of my favorite books, it’s called of blood and ash and it is nothing is ever simple. And what it is, it is rarely worth it.


Chyrill Sandrini  22:33

Oh, say that again. One more time.


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  22:35

Nothing is ever simple. And when it is it is rarely worth it.


Chyrill Sandrini  22:41

Hit that. That’s amazing. That applies so much to this industry, right? Mm hmm. And thinking about you’re taking on your own stress and your own burnout, need to recollect, refocus. And enjoy the simple things is kind of where you’re getting in make life a little bit more simpler for yourself. Yeah. Well, it’s been great having you on I hope we can have you back again sometime soon. And we wish you the best of luck with your little family and then your career.


Colleen Haugen-Ortiz  23:14

Awesome. Thank you so much.


Chyrill Sandrini  23:16

Thankfully, oh yes. Thanks for the opportunity