Technology Horizon

By Lloyd L. Hyde

Greater than 50 years ago, a young lad accompanied a family member to a hospital in one of the small towns in Jamaica, West Indies, and from that time things have never been the same. While sitting in the waiting area awaiting the return of his aunt, this young boy was able to form an opinion on his surroundings and make a decision on the career path that he would follow. He arrived at his decision based on the activity that he observed in one of the hospital’s clinical departments that was situated within the immediate vicinity of the waiting area. Upon the return of the boy’s aunt, a discussion started between the two, as would be expected of any young child visiting a hospital for the first time. However, the conversation went much further than the usual wanting to know what the doctor said and whether she was going to be alright. This child wanted to know more about the activities of those individuals whom he observed -just what on earth were they doing and what were their responsibilities. In his own words he demonstrated interest in what they were doing individually and collectively. It was then he declared to his aunt that when he grew up that is the kind of work he would like to do. His aunt told him that if that was what he would like to be, he could. However, she said it would entail significant studies and a lot of hard work. That young lad said, “I want to do it.” That young boy then is this writer now.

Quite frankly, I made this lengthy introduction not to elevate myself but to make it clear to young, aspiring readers that they too can do what they set their mind to. Why have I written this article? I do so to introduce our youngsters to, and acquaint them with, the career of biomedical engineering and biomedical equipment technology.

What, in fact, is biomedical engineering and its concomitant discipline, biomedical equipment technology? In real terms, biomedical engineering, sometimes referred to as clinical engineering, is the branch of engineering science that concerns itself with medicine and biology. To a large extent, it approaches solutions to problems in these areas using methods and principles of engineering science.

Biomedical equipment technology relates specifically to the application and support of medical equipment, sometimes called patient care or patient related devices. In layman’s terms, this is the area that involves a more hands-on approach. Hospitals and their staff, for example, rely on certain medical equipment and devices for diagnostic, therapeutic and analytical information as they strive to deliver more comprehensive health care. Additionally, these state-of-the-art devices help doctors and nurses to better manage their patients and provide them with more qualitative and accurate information.

This article will attempt to inform the reader, in this case, high school seniors, college bound youngsters, and others who are trying to decide on a career. The career of biomedical engineering provides two choices. The first, a biomedical engineer, requires four years of college preparation. The biomedical equipment technician needs two years of training at a community or junior college. The field is open to both men and women and offers exciting challenges both in the hospital environment, research, and the medical equipment manufacturing industry.

I felt compelled to write this article based on the amount of inquiries that I receive on a very regular basis about biomedical engineering. I also would like to assist as many interested youngsters as I possibly can to make this field one of their career choices. Further, it is my way in some small measure of giving something back or as it were, reaching back and pulling forward. It is generally agreed that two components scare a significant number of students from entering the engineering discipline. They are mathematics and science, and I want to add a third, English.

Let me encourage you to cast fear aside because the real definition ofF-E-A-R is False-Education-Appearing-Real. If I was able to master those subjects, you can too.

There are a number of devices and new innovations on the health care horizon for the Century and we will need some fresh minds to harness and use these new technologies for the benefit of humankind. The choice is yours-you can’t afford to wait -make that career choice now. Don’t limit yourselves. Many people have entered the biomedical engineering field and have decided that the sky is the limit.

Lloyd Hyde has been in biomedical engineering, instrumentation and electrical engineering since 1963. He is a Biomedical, ElectricaVElectronic and Instrumentation Engineer, and has held directorships in biomedical and clinical engineering at major hospitals and medical centers in Chicago, Illinois and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While residing in Illinois, he also served a medical equipment manufacturing corporation located in North Carolina as a Biomedical Engineer and a Medical Products Executive throughout the United States, Canada, and other parts of the world. Mr. Hyde has also, prior to his service in biomedical and clinical engineering, held posts in electrical and industrial instrumentation engineering.

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