Career Advice: Keeping Up with Technology and Training

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Preventative maintenance programs are a high priority in medical imaging service departments. Keeping up with new technological advances is important to provide the tools and resources imaging service professionals need to be effective while working on complex equipment. If an individual or an organization ignores technological changes, they quickly fall behind in attempts to efficiently service equipment and provide outstanding customer service.

It is also extremely important to remain compliant with regulatory requirements that accredited hospitals use to maintain standards. Additionally, patient safety can be at risk if technology updates have not been followed.

Many organizations are now asking their imaging service professionals to become certified. Certification for Radiological Equipment Specialist (CRES) is recognized as a professional achievement and enhancement to an imaging service professional’s career. However, as much as these individuals would love to become certified, many radiology service professionals feel that it is almost impossible to take time off from their duties for certification training and testing, or even learn more about their field.

The good news about training, including CRES training, is that much of the training can be accomplished from a personal computer. Also, the Radiology Service Training Institute (RSTI) offers a very comprehensive CRES Instruction Self-study Program for a reasonable fee.

There is a tremendous amount of Healthcare Technology Management (HTM) training online, and much of it is free. If a cost is involved, an organization will pay for it if budgets allow. That should not be a deciding factor, though, as individuals should be willing to pay for some training. It shows dedication to their career and organization.

There are informative articles in trade magazines such as ICE, TechNation, BI&T, etc. Many webinars and other resources are also offered online. OEMs offer online training and discussion forums. They also provide in-house training for new equipment users and other technical support to clients. Users have access to newsletters to keep them abreast of specific equipment updates, alerts and technical support. Local, regional or national professional association memberships provide a wealth of information. Regulatory agencies provide alerts and updates if an individual provides contact information. Many independent service organizations (ISOs) offer technical service forums, articles, webinars and technical support on their websites.

While many companies do not require the CRES certification or continuing education, they do expect employees to be current with the latest technology, and to be flexible and work on multi-vendor imaging equipment. Additionally, service professionals must know how to maintain older imaging equipment in hospitals and clinics that have not had an opportunity to upgrade because of budget constraints.

There are generic classes taught by many colleges for entry-level individuals, such as an introduction to X-ray service class that will teach the basic concepts of X-ray systems that all operate under the same principles. There are reputable radiology equipment service training schools and some ISOs offer training. The best method of training is always the hands-on training gained on the job. It usually comes with the assistance of an onsite service engineer or manager.

Conferences, such as the Imaging Conference and Expo (ICE), MD Expo, AAMI, and others provide excellent updates on technology. These conferences provide a myriad of educational opportunities and attendees can get expert advice from exhibitors as well.

Many health care organizations have developed onsite training programs and/or in-services to assist service professionals as well as the end-users of the complex equipment. OEMs offer training, especially with upgrades, or training is included in the negotiated terms of a new equipment purchase. If necessary, OEMs can send in an instructor or specialist to provide on-site training to a group of service individuals and end-users in the department. This allows technicians to attend the training without taking significant time away from their duties. This is especially helpful toward the end of an OEM service contract and assists with bringing service in-house.

In departments with several radiology service professionals, cross-training is especially important. It creates a team approach to the service department, and it ensures complete equipment coverage during the absence of the primary person responsible for servicing specific imaging equipment. Providing a fully functional team for all of the radiology equipment is more productive overall and provides better customer service.

As technology continues to advance and become more complex, it is important to keep up with new trends and technological advances to remain competitive and relevant in this highly technical career field. Ensure your department has the tools and resources for imaging service professionals to provide efficient and effective customer service.

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