The Evils of Imaging

Justin Barbour, MedWrench guru and Better Biomed, provides advice and insight into the stigmas surrounding medical imaging.

Mon Sep 27 2021By Justin Barbour

For some biomeds, career progression naturally includes becoming part of the “elite”: Medical Imaging. Did you know that expressing these eventual interests could eliminate you as a candidate for a position? One such candidate recently wrote me and expressed his frustration with one honest answer given during an interview, which eliminated him from consideration (according to an interview insider).

There has been a stigma surrounding medical imaging as the 'dark side' for quite some time. Biomeds often get offended when another biomed shows interest in taking on X-ray or ultrasound. Why? Is it because this person is going to get paid more by joining an imaging team? Is it because any biomed training will be lost? Expressing an eventual interest in exploring more complex medical equipment should never eliminate a candidate. 

There’s a meme circulating throughout emails and social media:

Hospitals/companies are often worried about employee retention following hiring or training, but perhaps the worry should be focused on getting as many of the best technicians on staff as possible. A good technician should always be looking to their future. After BMET III, what are your options for progression? Team leader, medical imaging and management.  

A biomed should never go from general medical equipment to medical imaging in a single day. It’s part of a path that is cultured and curated over time. How do you keep a good technician on staff? Feed them if they’re hungry. Give them ownership of part of the Clinical Engineering program or over an area of the hospital. If someone is capable and hungry, send them to a single ultrasound school, and then they own that specific model US for your facility (while they also work on general medical equipment). Perhaps, if they do well, try another school to expand their skillset. Technicians understand investment, and we see when a hospital or company doesn’t commit to their employees.

The days of having pensioned biomeds who work 30 years on patient monitors are over. The average tenure for biomeds ages 25 – 45 seems to be ~ 3 to 4 years. Why do people move between jobs so often? When you switch positions, you often get more pay, a different title, training, a different modality and even different management. Biomed and medical imaging are in very high demand. Positions are open in most hospitals around the nation, and the only way management will retain technicians is to talk to them. Figure out their goals and their concerns. Ask for solutions to discovered shortfalls in the program instead of iron fist managing. Offer training and progression to technicians with goals. 

A good technician who transitions to a different modality is still better than a good technician transitioning to another hospital/company, or a bad technician who refuses to leave.

We need to stop hating on biomeds with career goals. Throughout my career, I’ve witnessed a constant “us vs. them” division in clinical engineering, and it needs to stop. A divided shop is a management failure to foster a team. Infusion pump biomeds are not the lowest rung on the ladder, and imaging isn’t the top. We are a team and in clinical engineering, we are stronger if our team consists of technicians who cross-train. Progression should be expected, not punished or career limiting.

Imaging isn’t evil. It should be a reward for a dedicated and hungry biomed.

-Justin Barbour

Better Biomed YouTube Channel

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