Developing Your Career as a Biomed

Apr 16, 2024

Fri, Mar 29, 2024 10:01AM • 25:17


biomed, people, htm, technician, learn, linkedin, cybersecurity, job, conference, love, put, conversations, call, manager, struggles, years, hospital, build, tech, medical devices


Chyrill Sandrini, JC Newell, Almetha Ford

Chyrill Sandrini 00:12

And we’re back on HTM Insider again with part two with my friends JC and the Almetha. Gosh, we’re having so much fun on our first conversation that we decided to break it into two parts. Again, if you listened to just this part with tech nation, you do get that CE credit. Follow us on Apple Music, Spotify, and anywhere you get your podcast. So we’re going to jump back into the conversation right now with my friends. And just continue listening.

Almetha Ford 00:40

I believe I’m the Easter Bunny, I have so many eggs in my basket. I have a basket full of eggs all the time. And then also learn what’s needed in your field and not where it is now but where it’s going. Right now, they’re struggling to find people that understand medical device cybersecurity, you can be still being biomed. And understand it. They got free. There’s a biomed association called ISC squared. They’re offering free certification, you go there you get you, you they give you the online training, and they pay for that $200 Pierce Testing Center testing you to become entry level certified in cybersecurity. Get that on your belt. That’s a that’s a global association. Now you can go to the local association and rub some elbows, get to know people to know you, you get to know them. Your network is your net worth don’t play. So get yourself seen. Get yourself on LinkedIn, build your business card. Maintain digital business card is not for your company, it’s for you. So build that learn what that can do for you. And just grow in your knowledge in your experience. And what’s what’s valued you are because I remember going through all this I’m people call me a beautiful unicorn and before this before people called me crazy because they said I was going to interviews because they said oh me for you seems like you don’t know what you want to do. Do you want to do biomed or IT? And I would say to them, I’m a healthcare technology expert. I think we need to understand all of it. And where are we now we need to understand all of it. So don’t let other people dictate your directions. If you see it, and you can forecast where things are going because you know, in your gut, oh, this is gonna go this. Now big data is becoming in-house, can I make sure that my biomed experience went out collect this big data, or all this integration? Or now biomed? Everything, all these circuit boards are integrated. Now they’re only swap fix, okay, if they swap fix, they’re not going to match how these things come in, who uses them help be part of that training and knowledge. Always think above and out of the box. And don’t just put yourself where I hate to say it a lot of our older, more seasoned biomeds are in where they just saying that’s not my job. Status-quo. Yes.

JC Newell 03:17

You know what one of the phrases I use, I hate it when technicians pigeonhole themselves. You know, they get out of school and the first job they get is a dialysis technician. And they do dialysis for 10 years. And then when they want to go change a job to be a biomed in a facility, they’re treated like a Biomed I, and they don’t understand. But it’s because they don’t have any other experience with any medical devices. So they can’t get the pay that they think they deserve. They can’t get the position they think they deserve. But it’s because you stuck yourself here. So it is great to do specialized work. But only do it for three years, then move on.

Almetha Ford 03:57

And you gotta get to the conferences, the networking, like you were saying, I’ll meet that. I’m a big LinkedIn believer. You’ve got to get out there and meet people. Because when you meet people your world opens up. Yeah. The one that I’ll give an example if you don’t mind give you a short story. I was working as an assistant director in Anchorage, Alaska. I loved Anchorage. But that’s a whole other story. That’s right. But anyway, so I was working in Anchorage, Alaska, and we needed to do some changes. So we had our, one of the things we had a lab tech and that’s all we did was lab equipment. So people were growing Oh, he’s not working all the time. We’re working our butts off and everything else. So I said, Okay, let’s change things up. So I had the technicians that weren’t doing certain things, meant to work with somebody so they could be mentored. So whoever’s doing these patient monitoring, I started simple patient monitors, learn patient monitors, go with them, learn them and then that way you can help PM the patient monitors when you’re not doing lab equipment. And then he started doing more. At first he wasn’t happy about that because I had him doing my work, but eventually really, he was appreciative and happy about that. Because then he was able to get a job because he was trying to go back home to Arizona. He was happy because now he had other equipment besides labs. So now he can apply for a job that wasn’t just lab where they didn’t need a lab tech. So then he was able to go in and say, Hey, I specialize in lab equipment. But I also know patient monitoring. I know this, I know telemetry, I know this. And he got a job doing that. And then he became the manager and director. Yes. And so which allowed him to go home to his wife, his wife was staying in Arizona and not up in Alaska. So he had taken that move. You remember, I said, Sometimes you may need to relocate, he did that. But then, finally, he let that go. And he embraced the difference. And it benefited him. And he tells me, so now he’s retired now, he’s like, that was the best thing he ever did. And he appreciated it. So I’ve just I recommend that to everybody. Don’t just put yourself in one niche, be that Easter Bunny, carry them eggs.

Chyrill Sandrini 06:02

I like it. I like it. I think that’s so important. And you ladies are both so inspiring. I love meeting you at conferences hanging out, breaking bread together and just getting to know one one another on a different level, which I think is so important. One thing that I was just at a conference and young biomed said to me, man, people in this industry hug a lot. Think about it from an outside perspective. But we’re so happy to see one another. It’s such a tight knit group. While it’s large and scale for the United States, and how many biomeds are out there. HTM professionals, I should say. It’s amazing how well connected we are. So utilize that. Like you were saying that utilize your connections, ask for help, ask for advice. We put on pins that said at the last conference, I made pins it just said asked me to be a mentor. Yeah. I picked out people and they wore the pins. And they were like people were just coming up and asking them questions.

Almetha Ford 07:20

What you said, we are actually a fraction of what the other fields are in hospital. So let’s say you’re in a small hospital, they’ll probably have three, four or five IT people all right in small hospital, desktop service desk, and then people that are doing the networking and working on the servers. But in the hospital, you can only have sometimes in the small ones, one biomed. So, and in a large hospital, I’ve seen like in one hospital and say it’s over 1000 beds, you got 70 environments, dealing with 30,000 pieces of equipment. But you’re having IT double if not triple that. You’re only a small group. So when we see someone else in their misery loves company, but we’re not miserable. Like Minds. It’s a people that are really embracing this field. Yeah, we’re gonna argue because we get it, we know what you’re going through. And so we’re gonna give you a hug a big hug.

JC Newell 08:17

But you know what I want to say that’s why it was after the conference that we did in Orlando, that we started talking about the BYOB zoom call on IHTM. Every Friday, every Friday night at 7pm, Eastern Standard Time. 6, Central, 5 Mountain. And so the BYOB zoom call was made so that all of those people that don’t really have people to hang out with or they’ve made friends and they want to keep it going. We created a safe space. There’s no video, we’re just there to talk. We want to just hang out, we want to just spend more time with our friends that we’ve made at conferences. And then we know on LinkedIn, isn’t it great to put a face to the name of somebody you’re connected to on LinkedIn? But you guys have never seen each other. But the BYOB zoom call is that get your favorite libation, whether it be hot tea, or soda or drink. You know, for me, I like whiskey, or I like my mimosa, we like to get together and just chill out at the end of the day on a Friday night and just talk. We often have people coming in to do different things. So we have people that are talking about issues that they’re having at their facility, and we have a support system. So we talk about things that they can do when we give them advice and we help them to make decisions. We are people who are bringing in new inventions and new technology that nobody’s seen yet But they’re showing us and talking to us about it when they want to put it out and get in that initial how, wow, that’s cool. Or hey, wouldn’t it be better if you added this, this and this. So it turns into a very fun feel relaxing collaborative environment where we see good friends spend time, just one hour, on a Friday night.

Chyrill Sandrini 10:25

I love that. That’s we bounce things off of each other, we learn so much more. open to it, right? Yeah.

JC Newell 10:33

And when you have a good group of people on there, and everybody can see each other. And y’all, it makes it so much more genuine. You don’t feel as if you’re talking to somebody, and they’re just about business, how can I get this business because that’s not what it was designed for. It was designed just for us to relax with each other like we do at a conference. We all know that business is done on the conference floor, or the expo floor is not done in niches and classrooms or setting up meetings. When we get together, we’re in a relaxed environment, we have the best time but then we see that genuine person, that’s the person we want to get to know.

Chyrill Sandrini 11:14

Yeah, we do a lot of collaborating a lot of business, a lot of growing, when we break bread together.

Almetha Ford 11:24

So we’ll have the struggles that you’ve been through. But I’m seasoned technicians with what they’ve struggled through in their careers, how they had to get through it with the young people that are coming into the fields, what are they struggling through it? And how do how are they adjusting to it? Or how can they adjust to it because knowledge is power. And sometimes you don’t always know how to address certain situations and the best way to approach them or now that you’re in that three, four year, what’s the best way for me to go? And so having an answer ask you questions like, What do you gear to? What do you like? Have you thought of this? Have you thought of that? It helps. And that’s what we all doesn’t use?

Chyrill Sandrini 12:10

Okay, ladies, so I got to know, if I am in a small town or a small shop, and I’m a biomed. And let’s say I’m five years in, and I don’t know where to grow or how to grow? Where would you suggest that they go to to find this information to start learning networking, to learning the next steps in their career? Maybe they can’t go to a conference? You know, we have a lot of young parents out there with kids. And what do they do? How do they find it? Do theyhey find you they find it on the internet? What do you suggest?

JC Newell 12:44

first of all, I’m going to say I am a huge, huge supporter of biomed associations. And that is the one place that a tech can go to get resources, support, find out about jobs, and things of that nature. Another thing is LinkedIn is really great for that. But I’m also got a push I gotta push I-HTM, we do presentations regularly. Regularly, we have a calendar of events come to the site. We have different areas, we have areas where we have HTM Hot Topics, we have education resources, where we have training and advice we have we talked about recruiting and finding new jobs. And we also have, we have a project management piece, cybersecurity, as well as what we call the whale. And the will is a space where you get encouragement and refreshing after you’ve had a long day or just a good word. But one of my favorite parts about HCM is I-HTM laugh out loud, put your favorite funny story, your funny video, or your funny GIF to have someone smile during the day. But if you’re five years and you want to know where to go, you have amazing resources in whether it’s you getting with your local association, checking LinkedIn or coming on I-HTM. We’re here for you to try to bring everyone together. So those people are these people here can help support you and your efforts. We want to know what you want to do with your life. What you want to do with your career, what ideas do you have, what you’re focused on, and then we want to help try to mentor you and bring that out of you and guide you into where to be better. I

Chyrill Sandrini 14:43

love that now Almetha, I got something for you. You ready? So now I’m a biomed and I know that IT and I and our departments should work better together but I’m not the manager. And what would you say is like that the direction I should go, like, how should I approach it? How should I approach my manager who’s been there for 20 years and doesn’t want to talk to it, but I see this is where it needs to go. What do you suggest?

Almetha Ford 15:12

I suggest a couple of things. One is education, learning, learn it, learn it, because I, it took me five years to get into an application support clinical application support area, after I got my bachelor’s degree in healthcare management information systems, that degree didn’t help me right away. It helped me five years later to get into that it position that helped me use my biomed experience into it. So I would say, learn, use that tuition reimbursement I’ll give you already have an associate’s degree, I go for another one, it’d be a project management or be in it. So I would continually always learn. That’s what that tuition reimbursement is for. Don’t let it go. Because that is your that is your compensation pack and your worth to the hospital saying this is what you’re worth to me to spend on you for your education. So why let that go? Right. Well, when you leave, guess what? You use your tuition reimbursement and you get your degree? What happens when you leave? What goes with you?

Chyrill Sandrini 16:19

Oh, I agree. Your education!

Almetha Ford 16:21

I would first make sure I get that knowledge and that that education, then I would have those conversations with not only my biomed. Director, but I would also ask it, where are your struggles with the medical devices? What are what are the where are your gaps, I help I find those gaps, your project manager, where she finding it struggle for where she’s doing projects for those gaps, and learn to fill those gaps? Because like I said, once you become that go to you help open up other people’s mind, because now you have that expertise that maybe somebody else doesn’t have. And then you then you can have more of those conversations, because they see you doing. Does that make sense? So you can do some for I’ve had where manager wasn’t happy about it. But I definitely had some conversations and built some reports with my IT people. So the resistance that they were getting on there and I wasn’t getting. Does that make sense? So then it becomes easier to get around and collaborate and do what I need to do. So once they see me doing things, and they went smoother and quicker. Now they’re like, Well, how do you do that? Let me show you. And that’s how you do it. Sometimes you can’t always hit that wall. Okay, because people may take it personally. But sometimes you just need to do what you do. And flow the people that do what we do as biomass with nursing staff, management staff, and build those reports to make those avenues easier.

Chyrill Sandrini 17:52

Because we connect on common ground, we connect on in maybe it’s anything from hobbies to how you feel about patient care and patient safety. You have those conversations, once you make that connection. It’s hard to break. My dad always said that. The one thing that no one can ever take away from you, Sis, he called me Sis and Sissy back in the day is education.

JC Newell 18:17

Mm hmm.

Chyrill Sandrini 18:18

That’s your if you own it, he gets right. Everything will be taken away. But right here, whatever you got up here, that’s yours in some

Almetha Ford 18:25

Yeah. This is not going is that going manager it’s not going director to director to C suite. Sometimes it’s technician to technician, and you relationships with that other technician and you start working together. And then people start seeing that you make a difference. And you know, people get promoted. So maybe that person has a manager who’s now more receptive and that person, so you just do it one step at a time.

JC Newell 18:53

So I kind of just kind of wanted to jump in and say oftentimes you have biomed shops that need to work with IT, but every time they call it they get to help this person. There’s no backdoor phone number that they can call someone in IT to say help me with this. Because it is structured that way where everything comes as a ticket, everything comes through it. But when you build that report, and you have that relationship, your management and other techs are gonna be like, Well, how did she get that done? Because you built a report, you have a backdoor number, you have somebody that you can reach out to and they want to talk to you because you’re easy to work with. And you get the work done. To me I am a networker I network to death. I will network with every aspect of hospitals, from finance to contracts to HR to IT, it doesn’t matter. I got a connection somewhere. But all of us should have that because all those areas are integral and you need that backdoor number, when you’re standing at a device and something is going wrong, it’s not the time to say, well, I’ll put in a ticket, and I have someone come, you know, you need somebody right now. And that’s when it gets important to build those relationships. As far as management goes, we run into an area and a realization, where we’re now looking at the rise of the IoMT. Now you have the internet of medical things, and these technicians are the gap between biomed and IT, they do both. And this is where we’re going now as an industry, Kaiser Permanente is doing this in a big way they have a 32 man team that they’re building to handle these types of issues across the enterprise it’s amazing. Amazing.

Almetha Ford 20:51

I would also say one of the other pieces that helped build those rapports, if I get a problem, and I’m getting that help desk, bumper, I’ll use it. But many times I’ve walked down to it. I’ve talked to a manager, how you doing? I’m kind of struggling with this, can you any advice how to help. And the managers are usually very nice, very helpful, but they’re not aware of what’s going through the pipeline until a lot of times, just like biomed, we don’t know what’s going bad until it explodes. Because we got that last minute call. That’s the importance of doing rounds, where people are like, I don’t feel like doing rounds. But if you go and do those rounds first thing in the morning and talking to this time, you get ahead of stuff that you would have been called into the office as a major problem. So me dealing with it is I will go down and I’ll talk to a manager or something like that. Or if they’re going to lunch meet. You got you want to go to lunch, you know, what do you want to do, you know, with finds out you know, and then we just talk in there don’t always have to be about business. It could just be Hey, how you doing? Here’s, you know, the health system, and some of my struggles and stuff like that. Are you seeing some of those? And you know, how you working through that. And, boy, that’s a great idea. You start bouncing off just like you would anybody else you meet. And then those builds those rapports. And that’s how it starts.

Chyrill Sandrini 22:14

And that’s why we’re here today cuz I met the wonderful JC years ago when Dallas. Yeah. And we just clicked.

Almetha Ford 22:24

a point with JC was saying about the training and learning on that previous question. COVID has changed a lot about training and promoting learning. So now there’s even more online than before where you had to physically be somewhere. So research and do those online. LinkedIn has all kinds of online webinars. There’s all kinds of free there’s Black Hills that offer pay as you can afford it, cybersecurity courses. And there’s other stuff Sans is free, has free courses. Microsoft has free courses just for you to understand some basic stuff. So just do the research. And you’ll be surprised of what you could learn for free and YouTube.

JC Newell 23:04

Not to mention Webinar Wednesdays from tech national they love indie publishing that Tech Nation webinar Wednesdays Med Wrench

Almetha Ford 23:16

and YouTube university that, you know, there’s so many opportunities now to learn stuff than there was before COVID

Chyrill Sandrini 23:26

Oh, 100% My daughter went through school be med school at sea bed during COVID Oh, really?

JC Newell 23:34

She went out there. She get a chance to use the VR goggles before they came

Chyrill Sandrini 23:38

That came after. But yeah, but she I mean, I think they’re doing a wonderful, you know, thing using that VR, which is something that is so unique to learn and train on. Right? I mean, it’s something that we thought was a game earlier, right? You played it as a game and now is having clinical applications that are just amazing. To be able to have that experience, right? I loved having you guys on we could talk forever we have to do another episodes and this was part one and part two, but I can’t wait to connect with you again in person. Do you have any last words of wisdom I know we talked about some earlier that you want to leave our listeners with?

JC Newell 24:21

Almetha I’ll let you go first?

Almetha Ford 24:23

Well for me, and I guess that’s kind of been my thing. Knowledge is power. And don’t be afraid to use those wings. And

JC Newell 24:35

and I will say Don’t knock it till you try it. Biomed can be fun. So get out there and learn something new. Learn a new device, take a chance on yourself to get out there and just grow grow grow. Never stop adding to your tool belt

Chyrill Sandrini 24:56

You guys are just amazing. I just love you. I love the motivation. I love the inspiration it makes me want to go get some eggs in my basket