Filling Florida’s growing need for biomedical technology training

Students at lab bench

According to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of medical equipment repairers is projected to grow 30 percent from 2012 to 2022. The state of Florida needs individuals trained in the area of biomedical technology due to the high-demand for health care services and the increasing types and complexity of the equipment these professionals manage.

“With manufacturing firms returning to Florida, they bring with them a need for such highly skilled employees. Engineering technicians support engineering and manufacturing processes by solving technical problems in research and development, sales, construction, assembly, quality assurance and prototyping,” said Joe Dvoracsek, St. Petersburg College director of student success counseling and advising at the Seminole Campus. To help fill this need, SPC offers an A.S. degree in engineering technology with a sub-plan in biomedical engineering and a certificate in medical quality systems.

Florida has the highest number of medical device companies registered by the Food and Drug Administration in the world, second only to California.

“This is a growing area of interest at our college.  In an average semester, I probably average 35 to 40 students who inquire about this degree”, said Dvoracsek.

“There are so many opportunities in this field. I could literally work in a hospital, clinic or a government agency,” said Leigh Nygren, an SPC second-year biomedical engineering student.

“To work in today’s manufacturing operations, employees need precise, advanced technology skills,” said Dvorascek. “Locally and nationally, employers have a hard time finding these skilled workers.” The career outlook for those with medical equipment training is strong. The field of biomedical technology is noted as one of the top five careers by CNN Money and Time magazine’s “The Best 5 Jobs You’ve Never Heard Of”.

These SPC programs can prepare students for careers such as: quality control analysts, quality control systems managers, document management specialists, medical appliance technicians and manufacturing production technicians.

The first two semesters of the academic programs prepare students for entry-level jobs as a biomedical equipment technicians (BMET).  The  associate degree prepares students for nationally-recognized industry certifications including CBET (certified biomedical equipment technician), CAPM (certified associate in project management) and the CompTIA A+ (computing technology industry association certification for service technicians).

The medical quality systems certificate can be completed in six months by taking classes in six to eight-week module semesters. This 15-credit certificate teaches students the methods and technology used in designing, regulating and manufacturing medical devices that use the latest medical technology.

“Students will get to practice with biomedical devices and have contact with biomedical manufacturers in our area. I encourage students to get certificates because it helps to set them apart in this highly competitive field,” said Lara Sharp, SPC program director of Building Arts at the Clearwater Campus.

The certificate can also be used towards SPC’s associate of science degree in engineering technology with a sub-plan in biomedical engineering. This degree covers all aspects of medical device development and manufacturing, related software and technical support integration, FDA and health care regulations, and engineering, electronics and mechanical technologies.

“I am actually completing the medical quality systems certificate this semester, and I am so grateful for this program because I actually locked down an internship for next semester,” said Musab Alashi, a second-year biomedical engineering student at SPC.

“I feel eligible and confident enough to compete in the workforce and land a high-paying job, even though I plan on transferring to a university to complete my bachelor’s. I think the hands-on experiences are what set our college apart from others,” Nygen said.

This program update was provided by SPC graduate and current University of Florida student Sarah Bounaim.

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