Biomeds as Students, Teachers

MarcheseEducation is a many-splendored thing, and it doesn’t stop when graduates head out into the world amid a flurry of pomp and circumstance. It may take on different forms as we work at our careers, however: The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) conference in Long Beach, Calif., last month had education at its core, for example, as does the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) convention planned for San Antonio, Texas, this month.

For some, the best sources of career education and training are local professional organizations. The many monthly biomed association meetings, with quick, short educational components that explore new theories and demonstrate new technologies, are a good start. But some societies’ larger and longer symposiums are an even better bet for expanding knowledge, discovering new sources of information and tapping into new resources.

The Biomedical Association of Wisconsin (BAW) is preparing for just such a symposium.

The BAW, an organization of five “indie” chapters located throughout Wisconsin, holds an annual conference that rotates geographically among the five member chapters. This year’s conference, to be held Sept. 30-Oct. 3 in Green Bay, is being planned by members of the Eastern Wisconsin Biomedical Association (EWBA). For those who are keeping track, it’s the BAW’s 20th annual.

Don Cormier, biomedical electronic technician with Bellin Health and organization president, has been preparing for this year’s conference since the EWBA hosted its last one five years ago. When it came time for the first brainstorming session this time last year, Cormier pulled out his “big fat file” full of names, topics and contact information. Now, with just a few months to go, he and others in the organization are dotting their i’s and crossing their t’s — and hoping that this 20th anniversary conference is one of the best ever.

Two notable additions may make it so.

For the first time, the BAW is opening the conference to persons outside of the biomed profession. Information technology (IT) employees are invited, as are nurses, radiology technologists and others. “We’re trying to make it an open one because one of our functions is to provide education for our staff on medical equipment,” Cormier says. It may also help ameliorate the biomed-IT divide that so often appears when it comes to networking responsibilities and concerns, he acknowledges.

Also for the first time, the BAW is encouraging students to attend the conference, in an effort to spark interest in the field.

“The other exciting thing we are trying to do this year is to get high school kids to come to the conference because there’s such a shortage of biomeds,” Cormier says. “Later this summer we are all divvying up parts of our area and are going to hit all the counselors. We have a couple of speakers — one gentleman will speak on where biomeds will be in [the year] 2015, and another who, I believe, organized the armed services biomed program, will be there. So we’re going to have [students] go through that, then hit the vendor show and play with all the instruments and, we hope, excite them because no one knows what we do.

“We’re hoping we can get some of the college students to attend, too,” he adds. “We’re trying to make more biomeds for us to draw from. You get a lot of [job] applicants, but they have no clue what a biomed is.”

The 2003 BAW conference has education written all over it — not only for today’s biomeds, but also for tomorrow’s biomeds and for biomeds’ colleagues in healthcare. And providing a learning situation for co-workers also translates into another opportunity to foster an awareness and appreciation of the biomed profession, in general, and of Wisconsin biomeds, in particular.

Interested in knowing more? E-mail Cormier at dfcorm@bellin.org. Or give him a call at (920) 433-3721.

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Marie S. Marchese
editor, 24×7