As a young boy, J. Scot Mackeil, CBET, the 2018 AAMI and GE Healthcare ‘BMET of the Year’ award winner, knew exactly what he wanted to be when he grew up—a pilot. Always goal oriented, even back then, he charted a path toward joining the military to become a pilot, after which he would return home and make his living flying. The turbulence of life, however, would alter his course, notably, being injured in a head-on collision with a drunk driver that left him in suboptimal shape for completing basic training.
Mackeil’s passion for finding a career he enjoys and that utilizes his analytical mind and intense focus on details would remain strong, however. His current job as a senior anesthesia biomedical engineer at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, certainly allows him to do that.
On the Frontlines
Mackeil was chosen this year’s winner in recognition of his dedication to the HTM field, evidenced by more than 26 years of experience “on the frontlines of biomedical engineering,” AAMI says on its website. The judges also were impressed with Mackeil’s advocacy for HTM professionals, AAMI says, pointing to a presentation on refurbishing and remanufacturing medical devices that he delivered in 2016 at a U.S. FDA workshop.
An avid supporter of “right to repair” legislation, Mackeil has penned a number of articles on the topic and has been interviewed for others in this magazine and more, the association notes. He’s also big on mentoring new HTMs, as well as the provisioning of medical technology and training to developing countries. AAMI honored Mackeil and other award and scholarship winners June 2, at the AAMI 2018 Conference & Expo in Long Beach, Calif.
Back to the Future
Mackeil’s early career in healthcare included serving as lead engineer for a company that installed lab equipment all over the U.S. and around the world. His responsibilities in that role included servicing refurbished clinical lab analyzers.
Prior to joining Mass General 8 years ago, Mackeil served 18 years in the clinical engineering department at Jordan Hospital in Plymouth, Mass., which became Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital—Plymouth in 2014. In that role, he implemented the facility’s first biomedical engineering program and computerized equipment-management system at the hospital. During those years, he helped navigate three successful inspections by The Joint Commission as well, one of which earned a commendation. He also trained junior biomedical staff and served as both laser safety officer and radio frequency officer.
What grounds Mackeil each day at work these days, is advice given to him by a seasoned nurse he worked with early in his career. “Doctors and nurses don’t know about this technology. They don’t know what you know. We need to focus on taking care of our patients. We need our patients to be safe. Do what you do, and help us keep our patients safe,” he recalls her saying. It’s something that still resonates with Mackeil, who shares the sage advice whenever he has the opportunity to mentor HTM professionals just starting their careers. He also advises them to try to understand intuitively how clinicians will use the tools that they are tasked with maintaining.
“One of the most important things we do is [serve as] partners to our clinicians dealing with this technology, and making sure the technology isn’t having a negative impact on what they’re doing,” Mackeil says. “If you understand what [clinicians] are trying to do, you might, as an HTM professional, know a better piece of equipment that will meet their needs.”
When coaching new BMETs, Mackeil shares with them three questions they should constantly be asking themselves throughout their workday. First, he says, ask yourself, “Do I really understand this piece of equipment?” Next, ask, “How does this piece of medical equipment connect with patient care?” And finally, “How does this piece of equipment add value for caregivers?”
Asking himself those questions each day paid off recently as Mass General staff prepared to surgically separate conjoined twins. During a planning discussion, Mackeil pointed out to the team of surgeons and others in the room that they needed to balance the electrical loads of the extra medical equipment that would be needed in the OR suite during the procedure.
“They just figured they could put all this equipment in the room [and plug it in]. I jumped in and asked how many electrical circuits were in the room. [But] you have to carefully calculate the power requirements, and carefully plug in each piece of equipment into each outlet in order to balance loads [and] prevent a power failure,” he recalls saying. The room grew silent for a moment, Mackeil remembers, before someone finally said, “You’re right! It’s a good thing you came here.”
And suddenly, would-be pilot J. Scot Mackeil, CBET, was flying high at work after all.