By Keri Forsythe-Stephens 

As a graduate in communication studies several (ahem!) years ago, I learned that most communication is nonverbal. Facial cues, body language, and hand gestures often convey more information to the person on the receiving end than the words that are spoken. (It’s also something I remind my husband when he says, “Yes, dear,” while his body language says the complete opposite.)

Keri Forsythe-Stephens, Chief Editor

Keri Forsythe-Stephens, Chief Editor

But that’s not to say that spoken—and written—communication isn’t important. As professionals in healthcare technology management, strong communication skills are vital to success, two experts argue in April’s issue of 24×7 Magazine.

In “Growing a Career: Essential Skills for Today’s BMET,” Penn State New Kensington biomedical engineering technology educator Dr. Joie Marhefka discusses why biomeds need more than just electronics backgrounds to do their jobs well. After all, she says, when speaking with hiring managers and program alumni, one theme consistently comes up: the importance of developing communication skills among students.

“The perception of engineers and technicians as people who spend all day alone fixing or testing a piece of equipment seems to give many students the idea that communication skills are irrelevant to success,” Marhefka writes. Not so, she points out.

“It’s crucial that BMETs have good customer service skills and be able to communicate with supervisors, nursing staff, as well as other technicians and OEM tech support personnel,” Marhefka says. “After all, BMETs should be able to respond to a question or service call in a way that the requestor/end user will understand.”

Joseph Panichello, author of the feature story, “Lost in Translation?” couldn’t agree more. In his article, Panichello makes the case that HTM professionals must be “language interpreters” when dealing with their fellow healthcare workers. Ultimately, he writes, “misinformation [from a colleague about a specific equipment issue] can lead a service tech in the wrong direction while troubleshooting a problem, which greatly adds to the length of the service call.”

Thwarting such issues, Panichello says, requires HTM professionals to “possess the language skills necessary” to decipher the device operator’s account of what went wrong with the equipment. Compounding the problem? The device operator may be a self-professed “technophobe” and lack the adequate words to describe the malfunctioning equipment. So, stellar communication (and interpretation) skills are key for HTM professionals, Panichello argues.

But in addition to strong communication skills, what other non-technical skills do you believe are integral to success in the HTM field? E-mail me at kstephens@medqor.com and let me know.

Keri Forsythe-Stephens is chief editor of 24×7 Magazine. Questions and comments can be directed to kstephens@medqor.com.