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Electronics

Biomedical Equipment Technician

In today's highly technical and rapidly changing medical field, human life depends not only on the expertise of doctors, nurses, and technicians, but on the proper functioning of sophisticated biomedical equipment.

The people responsible for maintaining these highly specialized machines are the biomedical equipment technicians (BMETs). Not only must they know how to maintain and repair this equipment quickly and efficiently, but they must also understand its interaction with the patient and be able to teach its safe and proper use to others.

Medical equipment repairers, also known as biomedical equipment technicians, maintain, adjust, calibrate, and repair electronic, electromechanical, and hydraulic equipment used in hospitals and other medical environments. They use various tools, including multimeters, specialized software, and computers designed to communicate with specific pieces of hardware. These repairers use hand tools, soldering irons, and other electronic tools to repair and adjust equipment. Among the tools they use is equipment designed to simulate water or air pressure. Faulty circuit boards and other parts are normally removed and replaced. Medical equipment repairers must maintain careful, detailed logs of all maintenance and repair that they perform on each piece of equipment.

Medical equipment repairers work on medical equipment such as defibrillators, heart monitors, medical imaging equipment (x-rays, CAT scanners, and ultrasound equipment), voice-controlled operating tables, and electric wheelchairs. Because most equipment repairs take place within a hospital, medical equipment repairers must be comfortable working around patients. In some cases, repairs may take place while equipment is being used. When this is the case, the repairer must take great care to make sure that repairs do not disturb the patient.

Work Environment:

Medical equipment and other precision instrument and equipment repairers normally work daytime hours, but are often expected to be on call. Still, like other hospital and factory employees, some repairers work irregular hours. Medical equipment repairers must work in a patient environment, which has the potential to expose them to diseases and other health risks, but occupational injuries are relatively uncommon.

Duties:

BMETs are responsible for the maintenance, installation, calibration, and repair of biomedical equipment designed to diagnose and treat medical conditions. This equipment may include anesthesiology machines, cardiac monitors, infusion pumps, defibrillators, radiology equipment, and ventilators. This equipment can vary from handheld to room-sized.
Biomedical equipment technicians spend a considerable amount of time on preventive maintenance. All biomedical equipment must undergo regularly scheduled preventive maintenance checks to ensure that everything is in proper working condition. Detailed records of preventive maintenance checks must be completed and kept by biomedical technicians as well.

Qualifications:

Biomedical Equipment Technician

A biomedical technician should have technical aptitude for working on a variety of electronic equipment. You must also be detail-oriented, enjoy working with your hands, and have excellent troubleshooting skills. Stamina and patience are also important characteristics of the BMET. You must be able to see projects through to the finish.

Since biomedical equipment technicians are expected to repair equipment used by others, they must also be able to communicate and work with them. People skills are crucial. You should be adept at listening to others as they explain problems with the machinery. You must also be able to communicate clearly and tactfully when you are training people or correcting operator error. A tolerance for stress is important. The biomedical equipment technician is often the person called upon to repair equipment being used for life support. A person's life may depend on whether or not a piece of equipment is working properly.

Job Opportunities:

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook (2007-2008), growth in the biomedical electronics field will continue its growth at the present pace. Technological advances and the desire for HMOs to cut costs and improve efficiency will create a need for skilled technicians.
Opportunities exist for biomedical equipment technicians in hospitals as junior-level biomedical equipment technicians, service maintenance organizations, and equipment manufacturers.

The medical equipment repairer occupation is projected to increase 22 percent between 2006 and 2016, which is much faster than the average for all occupations, as a result of increased demand for medical services and increasing complexity of the equipment used in hospitals and clinics. Opportunities should be increasingly good for those who have a strong understanding of software and electronics, as many new medical devices are increasingly reliant on computers.

Employment:

According to the Occupational Employment Statistics, medical equipment repairers held 38,000 jobs in 2006. The median annual earnings for these jobs was $40,580.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Occupational Outlook Handbook
2007-2008

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Phone:(509) 533-7139 or 1-800-248-5644 ext. 7139
 
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