Developing A Biomed Team

Justin Barbour, MedWrench guru, VP of Business Development at Fobi, and Host of Better Biomed Channel provides tips and tricks on how to develop a biomed team.

Wed Jan 05 2022By Justin Barbour

Clinical Engineering is a complex department filled with technicians and managers of select skill sets. Few technicians have a deep understanding of everything in a healthcare facility but as a team, those separate technician skills will fall into place like a puzzle. It’s a beautiful thing when a team commits to a challenge and you can see how each person contributes to the solution. A real team is not as organic as you would think. There are major limiting factors which need to be addressed before a team really starts working as a team.

The first issue that limits a team is the amount of workforce available. There’s a massive shortage of skilled Biomed technicians. Management compensates for these shortages by giving each individual technician more work than usual. This creates an individual responsibility for a quantity of workload. As work increases, people tend to try and tackle the work on their own. –The result is less cross training and less teaming up on work orders. Workloads need to discussed and planned as a team. The struggle and accomplishment will be the foundation for your teams. Cross training and joint work orders build better technicians which also promote team longevity and morale.

The next issue that limits a team is the variety of select skills of the technicians. Clinical Engineering is vast field. The problem is that if you are good at something, you usually own it. Most places will keep a technician in one specialty their entire tenure without ever offering the opportunity to develop other skills. In order to obtain training or opportunities for advancement, most Biomeds need to relocate to another job.  Turnover rate affects morale and it undermines all the work towards developing the team. By isolating a technician to a select modality or specialty (ex. Patient monitors or Lab analyzers), they are less likely to want to contribute to a team goal. Cross training is key and projects are an excellent opportunity to bring those island technicians back into the group. 

Management tech rounding is where the magic happens. These are essential meetings that make or break the entire department. This doesn’t need to be a formal event but a 10 minute sit down with each technician twice a year will cut your turnover rate in half (if not more).  Technicians should be observed for their work ethic, work tendencies and possible future fit on other teams. The rounding is when those observations are discussed along with concerns of the technician.  Everyone gets complacent within their comfort zone. Tech skills should always be challenged. A cross trained team is a stronger team that can compensate for needs as they arise. 


The last issue which impacts team development is Management.

Team leaders are the key to the team. A good team leader is a trainer, counselor, scheduler, quality assurance and coach. Every technician within the team will have individual needs, ethics, technical skills and soft skills. It’s up to the Team Leader to observe these traits and take notes for improvements. The Team Leader should balance work load with cross training according to the needs of the team. Communication is the main duty of the team leader.  Most teams fail due to poor communication. The Team Leader is the communication bridge between Clinical Engineering management, customers, other teams and other teammates. Lastly, the Team Leader needs the power and support from management in order to make decisions related to the team. If management likes to micromanage, the team will fail. Allow the Team Leader to run the team and try new methods. If those methods do not work, the team should be allowed to try a different route. Only through their own development will a team be a true, efficient team.

It’s always the manager’s fault. One thing I learned in the military is that failures always reflect directly on the management. Managers need to have interpersonal skills. Not everyone can or should be a manager. Just because someone has a degree doesn’t mean they should be a manager.  Skilled tradesmen are a commodity and should be treated with the dignity and respect which goes along with such a position. The Manager is the main reason people leave a job. When a skilled Biomed leaves a job it creates a void and ruins shop morale.  The Manager has the greatest impact on the entire Clinical Engineering program. The Manager should meet with Team Leaders to communicate metrics and share information about the shop. By maintaining the hierarchy of communication and command, each person in the shop stays in their lane. -This enables every person to develop professionally. The Manager should focus on the overall needs of the department while the Team Leaders should focus on running their team according to individuals that make up the team.


Techs that are knowledgeable in certain specialties should be taking along less experienced techs. Technicians need to have diverse skills to maximize their value to the team.

Management meetings with Team Leaders are essential to maintain communication about the needs of the shop and the needs of individual teammates. This is where technician development should be discussed.

Management rounding with technicians is extremely important to morale of the technicians. People are less likely to contribute to a team if they feel dissociated with management.

Do Not Micromanage. A goal or task should be given and the path to that goal should be developed by the team.

Mistakes are part of the process. Learning from mistakes and tackling projects are the 2 most effective ways to build the best teams.

-Justin Barbour

VP of Business Development, Fobi

Host of Better Biomed Channel

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