TRIMEDX was recently featured in an AAMI article about the BMET Apprenticeship program. The piece highlights two TRIMEDX apprentices and Workforce Strategy Director Courtney Kinkade. The full article, as it appeared Nov. 17, 2023, is below.
In late 2022, AAMI’s Biomedical Equipment Technician (BMET) Apprenticeship program graduated from provisional status as a Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) through the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Since then, the program has continued to grow, helping employer partners across the country train new apprentices at significantly reduced costs.
Aside from gaining access to AAMI and AAMI partner resources through the program, there is substantial grant funding available at both the state and federal level for companies who invest in registered apprenticeship programs. Those who have questions about the program should visit AAMI’s employer partner webpage or contact email@example.com.
“Becoming an Employer Partner in the AAMI Registered BMET Apprenticeship Program gives you a clear advantage over other employers,” explained Danielle McGeary, vice president of Healthcare Technology Management (HTM) for AAMI. “Designed to enhance and expand your workforce, this program is your company's pathway towards more diverse, better-trained, and better-retained technicians.”
Since its launch in 2021, AAMI’s RAP has helped more than two-dozen employer partners gain apprentices and launch in-house training programs. What’s more, becoming a partner costs nothing for these ambitious organizations. To begin the program, AAMI works with new partners to complete DOL-related paperwork, clarify all program requirements, build a wage schedule, and connect them with funding sources—all in the interest of building a more robust pipeline for HTM talent across the country. AAMI’s most recent 2023 partners include Renovo Solutions, OMI MedTech, and Lower Umpqua Hospital.
As U.S. National Apprenticeship Week wraps up for 2023, AAMI is celebrating our employer partners, as well as the growth of their BMET apprentices. What follows is just a few highlights from the success stories they’ve shared.
Celebrating the First-Ever BMET Apprenticeship Graduate
McGeary and AAMI Chief Learning and Development Officer Robert Burroughs recently traveled to Jackson, TN, to award Josh Weatherford with his nationally recognized Apprenticeship Completion certificate, jointly issued by AAMI and the DOL. As the first person to achieve this recognition, Weatherford’s certification has been specially recorded in the federal department’s archives.
“It’s definitely humbling, because if I weren't here, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity,” said Weatherford, shop manager at Jackson-based ReNew Biomedical. “It’s a huge accomplishment and I’m really glad I was able to be afforded that here.”
ReNew Biomedical was the first company to become an AAMI BMET Apprentice program employer-partner.
"At that time, we only had a handful of experienced technicians," ReNew Managing Partner Jill Taylor shared with AAMI. "Since then, we have grown four times that number and we give AAMI credit for providing a strong curriculum that guides our Journeymen as they instruct and mentor our Apprentices. We can proudly say that with the help of AAMi’s direction, we are now the largest, private HTM service company in the Southeastern U.S."
The equipment service company shared that participating as an employer partners has "deepened our understanding of what a professional HTM career path looks like for our techs. Just this week, four of our techs successfully achieved their CBET certification in large part because of their dedication of learning, the guidance they received from our Journeyman & AAMI’s resources."
Leveraging Career-Change Capabilities
One of the strengths of the BMET Apprenticeship program is that it is not designed exclusively for young go-getters like Weatherford. Professionals making a career change, no matter their background, will be able to hit the ground running as well.
“An apprentice could be someone who has an interest in the field but doesn’t have the means or life flexibility to go to college at this point in their life,” said McGeary. “This program is intended to bridge that gap—to get them the training they need to be successful while concurrently helping to facilitate the strong healthcare technology management pipeline the field so desperately needs right now.”
Employers who take part in the program, McGeary added, benefit from having entry-level workers on their payroll they can train to their particular equipment and service specialties. “If an employer wants someone to stay after the apprenticeship ends, they’ll already be up to speed—they won’t need retraining.”
Exemplifying how the program is open to anyone with the interest and drive to learn, Morrey Allen spent more than 20 years exploring unrelated career paths before joining TRIMEDX as a BMET apprentice in 2022. According to Allen, the “magic sauce” of the program is the hands-on experience it offers.
“You have to take [the devices] apart and look inside them” he said. “Electronics is not in my background. It would be just too abstract if I couldn’t really be here and interact with the guys.”
Since Allen started, a new class of four BMET apprentices have joined the program, and Allen has been been happy to help the apprentices who came after him. In a blog about Allen’s progress, TRIMEDX Workforce Strategy Director Courtney Kinkade added that this type of mentorship will continue to be a special aspect of the program as it grows.
Amber Perkins, a member of that 2023 class of apprentices, holds a degree in computer game design. However, while looking for opportunities for growth and stability, Perkins applied for the apprenticeship program. She explained in the TRIMEDX blog that she is now able to use her experience in software to better troubleshoot medical devices and equipment.
“I find it fun and every day there's always something new,” said Perkins. “Every day is not the same.”
AAMI’s BMET RAP consists of 4,000 to 6,000 hours of paid, on-the-job training in safety, electronics, anatomy, information technology, and more. Apprentices are expected to study and acquire AAMI’s premiere CABT certification for professionals entering the BMET field, a certification in IT Fundamentals, and finally take and pass the Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician (CBET) exam. Apprentices will then become a CBET in candidate status until they have completed four years of BMET work experience.
However, each employer partner is free to structure this training to fit their organization’s needs. For TRIMEDX apprentices, the majority of their second year is spent exploring different specialties including lasers, imaging, or even sterilizers.
“Our ultimate goal is to elevate their career quickly,” said Kinkade.
Crothall Healthcare’s own first generation of apprentices also hail from careers that are off the beaten path. With jobs ranging from nursing, to sales, to a dispatcher for a trucking firm, the five have showcased what it takes to be a successful apprentice.
“I have sharpened my skills for troubleshooting and solving technical issues with equipment through extensive hands-on experience. I can successfully disassemble, assemble, and change out parts to bring equipment back to working condition,” apprentice Samantha H. proudly explained in a special apprentice Q&A. “When a situation calls for it, or I have questions, I seek advice and help from my teammates.”
“My customer service skills have significantly improved through my experience as an apprentice,” added Jose R. a single father who can proficiently speak three languages.
He explained how coordinating with vendors about replacement parts or with clinical teams about repair status can “help to minimize any disruptions” while providing “a great opportunity to learn how to communicate effectively.”
“It’s been one year since Crothall Healthcare Technology Solutions launched its BMET Apprenticeship Program and strengthened its partnership with AAMI,” added Crothall HTS Program Director Codi Nelson. “[The program] enhances the diversity of our talent pool while ensuring that our company culture, protocols, and processes are ingrained in our team right from the outset.”
Rebuilding an Essential Pipeline
Within the HTM field, BMETs bring critical expertise in medical device maintenance to healthcare providers, as the role is responsible for routinely servicing the medical devices which monitor patient health or record important data.
AAMI estimates that nearly half of the current HTM workforce is over the age of 50. Unfortunately, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a growth in the field of 7% between 2020 and 2030, creating even more open positions.
And yet, U.S. education of this crucial workforce cannot keep up. AAMI has previously shared that, just in the past several years, 25 HTM-related education programs have shut down around the United States. As of 2022, 17 U.S. states are without a biomedical engineering program of any kind, leaving local health systems and service providers without a clear pipeline for new talent. Fortunately, the AAMI BMET RAP and its partners are providing new opportunities.
For example, as of 2022, Fluke Biomedical is offering 22 hours of free training for apprentices, which counts towards the program’s “Medical Equipment Training from Industry Sources” curriculum. The College of Biomedical Equipment Technology is offering apprentices exclusive access to their Anatomy & Physiology and Mathematics classes at a 20% discount for apprentice employers. Additionally, CompTIA offers information technology coursework as part of AAMI’s certification program and partners in the BMET Apprenticeship program.
“Our Apprenticeship Program continues to grow with the support of these incredible organizations,” said McGeary. “I’m excited to see even more companies join us in paving the way for the next generation of exceptional BMETs.”
Sheila O’Donnell, Vice President of Crothall’s Technical Resource Group summed it up by saying, “Crothall HTS is so appreciative of the groundwork that AAMI has laid to enable us to launch its BMET Apprenticeship Program. Tremendous thought and planning have gone into all aspects of the program including curriculum, registration requirements with the Department of Labor, and marketing tools. We believe now is the time to invest and develop new talent for our industry.”
Since The RAP’s launch in 2021, AAMI has heard from more than 1050 individuals interested in participating in a BMET apprenticeship. However, the number of employer partners able to leverage this ambitious community lags behind, despite a national talent shortage. If you’re interested in helping your company or health system set up an effective apprenticeship program, please visit www.aami.org/HTM/bmet-apprenticeship-employers.