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How Can I Learn Hospital Machine Repair?

There are several educational options for individuals who want to learn about hospital machine repair. Read on to find out more about the different tracks students can take to get a job maintaining and repairing medical equipment.

Learning to Repair Hospital Machines

There are several educational options for students who want to learn how to repair hospital machines. The necessary education typically depends on the nature of the equipment being repaired. Basic medical equipment repair may require only a high school diploma and on-the-job training, but individuals may need some postsecondary education in order to work on more complicated machines. Most students earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering technology or biomedical engineering in order to prepare for this job. Aspiring hospital machine repairers may also enroll in undergraduate certificate programs.

Important Facts About Hospital Machine Repair Education

Online Availability Rarely, but some certificate programs are offered online
Key Skills Manual dexterity, mechanical and technical skills, communication, physical stamina, time management, troubleshooting abilities
Continuing Education Required so that repairers stay abreast of new technologies
Possible Careers Instrumentation calibration technician, durable medical equipment technician, biomedical engineering technologist or technician

Associate's Degree Program in Biomedical Engineering Technology / Biomedical Engineering

The most common way for individuals to get medical equipment repair training is by earning a two-year associate's degree in biomedical engineering technology. Students may find both Associate of Science (AS) and Associate of Applied Science (AAS) programs in this field. These programs are highly interdisciplinary, covering basic concepts in electronics, physiology, chemistry and computer networking, while also providing hands-on repair training with medical equipment such as patient monitors, pacemakers, infusion devices, electrosurgical units, and anesthesia machines. Some programs also require students to complete an internship at a local medical facility prior to graduation so that they have field experience when they start applying for jobs. In addition, students in associate's degree programs must take general education courses.

Bachelor's Degree Program in Biomedical Engineering Technology / Biomedical Engineering

In order to work on more complex machines, such as CAT scanners and defibrillators, it may be necessary to have earned a bachelor's degree. Because bachelor's degree programs last for four years instead of two, they delve further into the field of biomedical technology than associate's degree programs. In biomedical engineering technology programs, students are not only trained to maintain and repair biomedical equipment, but they also learn the principles behind designing machines and developing software systems that can help overcome challenges within the fields of medicine and biology. Bachelor Science in Biomedical Engineering programs tend to be broader, since they don't necessarily focus specifically on biomedical technology, but there are some programs that give students the opportunity to focus their studies in a machine-related topic, such as sensors, microsystems, and instrumentation.

Undergraduate Certificate in Biomedical Equipment Technology

Another educational option for aspiring biomedical equipment technicians is an undergraduate certificate. These programs allow students to build proficiency in the field without committing to a full degree program. Students take a short series of foundational courses in subjects such as anatomy and physiology, math, electric circuits, and computer operating systems. They also become familiar with biomedical technologies like heart monitors, blood pressure monitors, pulse oximeters, infusion pumps, suction devices, and centrifuges. In some certificate programs, students must complete an internship. When they finish, students are prepared for entry-level jobs maintaining and repairing medical machines, or they can apply the credits they have earned toward an associate's degree program in the field.

On-the-Job Training

For some hospital machine repair positions, the minimum education requirement is only a high school diploma or GED. In these jobs, workers usually only repair and maintain basic equipment, like hospital beds and electric wheelchairs. On-the-job training typically involves observing and assisting an experienced professional, and it can last anywhere from three months to a full year.

Employment and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that employment of medical equipment repairers would increase by 4% from 2016 to 2026, which is slower than the average. Candidates who have earned at least an associate's degree in biomedical engineering technology or engineering are likely to have the best prospects. As of 2018, the median annual salary for medical equipment repairers was $49,210.

Professional Certification

After gaining experience in the field, medical equipment repairers can apply for a professional certification from the Credentials Institute of the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, which offers the Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician (CBET) credential. Students can apply if they have an associate's degree in biomedical engineering technology and two years of full-time work experience, or if they have an associate's degree in a different field and three years of full-time work experience, or if they have four years of full-time work experience in the field.