GE Healthcare opens College of HTM
Course will train employees to maintain health care technology

By Ashley Haynes

June 27, 2019

WAUKESHA — Thinking about just how many medical devices and tools are used in hospitals every day can be overwhelming. But for professionals in the health care technology management (HTM) field, being familiar with each kind of device and how to fix or maintain it is their daily job.

Through GE Healthcare Institute’s newly opened College of HTM, GE is hoping to help guide more technical professionals down this career path.

“It’s an interesting time for us and the industry,” said Donna Dyer, senior director of healthcare technology management.

According to a 2017 American Association for Medical Instrumentation survey, there is a predicted 4% growth in the industry overall.

AAMI’s survey also found that nearly 10% of all healthcare technology management workers are over the age of 60 and are seeking to retire.

“So, (a) growing industry, aging workforce, but then you also have this dynamic where there are fewer and fewer colleges who are producing graduates with an associate’s degree in biomedical equipment technology,” Dyer said.

She said there are only around 22 colleges in the country that offer the degree and train approximately 400 graduates a year.

Dyer explained students in their early to late 20s heading into a career field typically are looking to get into the more traditionally “attractive” areas like cybersecurity and IT.

The College of HTM is not a typical four-year college degree program, but still provides trainees with the knowledge they need to break into the HTM field. Dyer said someone who knows electronics and has the base knowledge of a professional with a college degree, such as an aviation electronics technician, but is not familiar with medical devices or how to work in a hospital environment is a good fit for the program.

Many workers that have made the switch to HTM from their current profession were displaced, and come from varying industries like factories and visual effects studios. Dyer said many HTM professionals find meaning in their work and appreciate working in an established and professional “shop.”

“Working on medical equipment in a hospital, what’s great about it is, number one, you’re doing really important work,” Dyer said. “The medical devices that we work on are used to make the patient’s experience better.”

Internally in GE’s Healthcare Institute, the building is set up into several “colleges,” such as the College of Ultrasound and the College of X-ray.

Mimicking hospital spaces

The physical space in the College of HTM was built to mimic the actual hospital spaces workers will be in. An operating room, an intensive care unit and a nursery are some of the environments in which trainees will learn how to work safely and effectively.

The equipment professionals might work on range from basic pieces, like an exam table, all the way up to more complex devices like lasers. Some middle of the road devices that are commonly worked on include defibrillators and ventilators.

Currently, the College of HTM is only open to GE Healthcare employees, but there is ongoing market research to open it to other industry professionals in early 2020. There was an official grand opening event for the newest “college” Tuesday.