- Biomedical Equipment Technician
A Bio-Medical Equipment Technician, also referred to as a Biomed, Biomedical Engineering Technologist (BMET), Biomed Equipment Technician, a Biomedical Equipment Specialist (BES) or Electronics and Biomedical Engineer (EBME) is a highly skilled electromechanical technologist that ensures that medical equipment is safe, functional and properly configured. They are employed by hospitals, clinics, private sector, and the military. These persons install, inspect, maintain, repair, calibrate, modify and design biomedical equipment and support systems to adhere to medical standard guidelines. Biomeds are involved in the total management of healthcare technology beyond repairs and scheduled maintenance; such as, capitol asset planning, project management, budgeting and personnel management, designing interfaces and integrating medical systems, training end-users to utilize medical technology, and evaluating new devices for acquisition. BMETs educate and advise staff and other agencies on theory of operation, physiological principles, and safe clinical application of biomedical equipment maintaining the facility's patient care and medical staff equipment.
The acceptance of the biomedical equipment technician in the private sector was given a big push in 1970 when consumer advocate Ralph Nader wrote an article in which he claimed, "At least 1,200 people a year are electrocuted and many more are killed or injured in needless electrical accidents in hospitals."
These technicians perform much work in the biomedical/clinical engineering field that consists of and cover a vast array of different fields and devices. However, in many cases there is a separation of responsibilities where the Biomedical Technologist works strictly with all patient care equipment, while an Imaging Repair Specialist works strictly on medical/diagnostic imaging equipment.
Examples of different areas of Medical equipment technology are: Diagnostic Imaging: Radiographic and fluoroscopic X-ray, Diagnostic ultrasound, Mammography, [[Nuclear Imaging]], Positron emission tomography (PET), Medical imaging, Computed Tomography (CT), Linear Tomography, Picture archiving and communication systems (PACS), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI scanner)
Biomedical Technology Physiological monitoring, Electron microscope, Sterilization, LASERs, Dental, Telemedicine, Heart Lung Device, DaVinci Surgical Robot, Optometry, Surgical Instruments, Infusion pumps, Surgical instruments, Anesthesia, Laboratory, Dialysis, Respiratory Services (ventilators) Computer Networking Systems integration, Information Technology, Patient Monitoring, and Cardiac Diagnostics
BMETs work closely with nursing staff, and Medical Material personnel to obtain parts, supplies, and equipment and even closer with facility management to coordinate equipment installations requiring certain facility requirements/modifications.
BMETs must conform with safety regulations, and most biomedical systems must have documentation to show that they were managed, modified, tested, delivered, and used according to a planned, approved process that increases the quality and safety of diagnostics and therapeutic equipment and reduces the risk of harm to patients and staff.
In the United States, BMETs may operate under various different regulatory frameworks. Clinical devices and technologies are generally governed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) particularly NFPA 99 and chapter 7, NFPA 70, Life Safety Code 101, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 21, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) hospital or Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care standards; and ensures compliance with these codes and standards for the US government registry of biomedical devices.
Other countries typically have their own mechanisms for regulation.
Biomedical equipment technology training
Traditionally, biomedical equipment technology has been an interdisciplinary field to specialize in after completing an Associate degree in Biomedical Equipment Technology, Biomedical Electronics Technology, or Biomedical Engineering Technology. Some BMETs get their training through the military.
Most entry-level BMETs enter into the field with a 2-year associate's degree in biomedical equipment technology, or they spend about one year in full-time military training. A 4-year graduate is an applied engineer who can perform the same medical equipment management duties as a clinical engineer, BMET Manager, or Director/Executive. Practical experience is gained through internships. Continuing education in the form of service schools is typically provided by specific medical device manufacturers. BMET educational degree programs can be accredited by the ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) or the ATMAE (Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering) both of whom offer specialised/programmatic accreditation for BMET programs.
Many BMETs pursue professional certification, such as satisfying certain education requirements and passing an examination to become a certified biomedical equipment technician (CBET). There are two other certifications BMETs can obtain such as: Certified Radiology Equipment Specialists (CRES), and Certified Laboratory Equipment Specialists (CLES). In many cases, carrying the title of "CBET" is highly encouraged, not mandatory, and is respected within the technical community.
In-House: BMETs work in the hospital's Biomedical or Clinical Engineering Department, but can also find employment with a third-party independent service organization (ISO) or original equipment manufacturer (OEM).
A group of 30 influential persons in Biomed met on April 28 and 29, 2011 in Arlington, Virginia to examine the future of the Biomedical / Clinical Engineering / Medical Equipment Maintenance field, and to select the most appropriate name for the profession. Most of the cost was born by AAMI, who contracted professional facilitators to guide the process. AAMI was a participant, like everyone else, but didn’t exert a domineering role in the process. After two grueling days, we did arrive at a best name, based upon all of the factors. The name chosen was “Healthcare Technology Management”. The finalists were Clinical Engineering, Clinical Technology, and a few others. There was debate as to whether the final word in the name should be Support, Service or Management. After careful debate, the vast majority decided on “Healthcare Technology Management”. Everyone in the room stated that they could support the new name.
We felt that this name was accurate, easily understood by the public and other healthcare workers, and allowed for expansion of the field in the future. The word “Engineering” was limiting (from the administrator’s perspective) and unworkable from the educator’s perspective. (A college would never name an associate’s degree program “Engineering”.) Likewise, the name “Clinical” was now clear, and limited the scope of the profession to hospitals, when healthcare is clearly moving outside of the hospital. Lastly, the names “Support” and “Service” seemed to be passive and imply a sideline role instead of a leadership role.
There will be much more released about this, with many more details. But for now, this is the main thrust of the meeting.
(Represented were biomedical educators, clinical engineers, BMETs, manufacturers, ISOs, directors, nurses, administrators, and the Office of Veterans Health Administration. )
Field Service: BMETs working for an OEM or ISO are many times called Field Service Engineers (FSE). FSE are more narrowly focused and specialized technicians who support Service and Sales.
Both must face increased risk of contact with electrical, mechanical, high pressure steam, noise, blood borne diseases, LASERs, chemicals and nuclear contaminates.
All military members entering the BMET career field receive comprehensive down to the component level and theory technical training. Prior to 1998, Army and Navy BMETs received training at the United States Army Equipment and Optical School (USAMEOS) at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center (FAMC) in Aurora, Colorado. Only after a July 1995 Base Realignment Closure Commission decided to close FAMC did the Army and Navy merge with the Air Force, conducting training at the DoD Biomedical Equipment Technician Training School. This school has a partnership with Aims Community College where students receive 81 quarter credits (from the Community College of the Air Force) toward an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) Degree with an emphasis in Biomedical Electronic Technology. In addition to the credits acquired from DoD BMET Training School, a minimum of 24 credits must be completed through Aims Community College to receive a degree. As of August 4, 2010, the U. S. Military moved the BMET training to San Antonio, TX as a part of their new base realignment plan. All three forces remain in rigorous, tri-service training for 10 months prior to returning to their individual services. The training is held at Fort Sam Houstion and is a part of the Military Education and Training Campus ( www.metc.mil ).
United States Air Force
- Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) 4A2X1 (where X represents the corresponding skill level 3, 5, 7 or 9)
- Air Force Instruction 41-201, "Managing Clinical Engineering Programs"
United States Army
- Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) 68A.
- The Army recently redesignated this MOS from 91A to MOS 68A. (Also formerly MOS 35G & 35U)
- Military Occupation Specialty - Warrant Officer (MOS) 670A Health Services Maintenance Technician.
- Navy Enlisted CodesHM-8498, HM-8479, HM-8478, HM-8410 and HM-8732 (Dental Repair Technician)
History of the HM-8410 NEC Prior to establishment of the NEC's HM-8478 & HM-8479 there was one NEC of HM-8498 Medical Equipment Repairman. This Navy Corpsman was required to complete both basic and advance medical equipment repair training courses at Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center in Denver, CO as one course of instruction. The navy had no basic repair tech. The total number of MER's in the navy was 92 until around 1974 when the numbers authorized was significantly increased and the basic repair tech NEC for the navy established. The basic course was a total of 15 weeks with the advance course being an additional approx. 36 weeks. The students enrolled after the period of 1969 could be awarded an AAS from Regis College(now Regis University) after completing a few additional courses. Later the school became affiliated with Colorado Technical College which the students again could be awarded an AAS with a few more courses and a BS with several additional semester hours of work. October 30, 2006 - HM-8410 was established and HM-8732 NEC was disestabilshed. Former HM-8732s were DNEC and given the 8479 NEC. This was done only because the HM-8732 was disestabilished. HM-8732 billets were converted to HM-8479 billets.
January 1, 2007, HM-8478 and HM-8479 have converted to one NEC: HM-8410
- Navy BMETs follow the guidelines stated in the NAVMED P-5132.
- Bowles, Roger "Techcareers: Biomedical Equipment Technicians" TSTC Publishing
- Dyro, Joseph., Clinical Engineering Handbook (Biomedical Engineering).
- Khandpur, R. S. "Biomedical Instrumentation: Technology and Applications". McGraw Hills
- Northrop, Robert B., "Noninvasive Instrumentation and Measurement in Medical Diagnosis (Biomedical Engineering)".
- Webb, Andrew G., "Introduction to Biomedical Imaging (IEEE Press Series on Biomedical Engineering)".
- Yadin David, Wolf W. von Maltzahn, Michael R. Neuman, and Joseph D. Bronzino,. Clinical Engineering (Principles and Applications in Engineering).
- Villafañe, Carlos CBET: "Biomed: From the Student's Perspective" (ISBN # 978-1-61539-663-4). www.Biomedtechnicians.com.
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