BMET grad Chris Garcia finds his home at North Memorial.
Chris Garcia, 32, of Brooklyn Center, is having the time of his life as a biomedical equipment technician at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, Minn. Garcia landed the job after graduating in 2007 with an A.A.S. degree from the Biomedical Equipment Technology program at Dakota County Technical College.
“I was working as an accounting coordinator at a federal credit union,” Garcia said. “I enjoyed my supervisory responsibilities in the accounting field, but I was starting to get burned out doing the same thing day in and day out.”
Determined to alter the trajectory of his life, Garcia continued to work full-time while taking BMET classes at night and on weekends. He was initially skeptical about his coursework, but experienced an abrupt sea change for the better when Steve Bezanson took over as head of the program.
“Steve came to DCTC with all kinds of on-the-job experience in biomed technology,” Garcia said. “He has just the right personality and attitude to be a teacher. He makes learning fun and makes sure that you know exactly what to expect when you’re out working in the real world.”
Bezanson evolved as an electronics expert while serving in the U.S. Navy. He accrued decades of experience as a biomedical equipment technician, working his way up the industry ladder to become a supervisor and trainer of other technicians in the field.
“I was scared to death of teaching when I first got started,” Bezanson said. “But once I was in the classroom, I realized that teaching was what I had been doing all along with my customers and coworkers. For me, working as an instructor at DCTC is hog heaven.”
The best feedback Bezanson gets as a teacher is when graduates report back and say, “It’s just like you told us.” Chris Garcia is one graduate who offered such a report.
“Steve told us to make the most of our internships—and he was right,” said Garcia, who was born in Tucson, Ariz., and graduated from Stevens High School in Rapid City, S.D. “Do more than they expect. Show up early and stay late. Volunteer and learn more about as much equipment as possible.”
“When you’re done, stay in touch,” he continued. “When it comes time to hire, you will be remembered. Even if that place isn’t hiring, you’ll still get a shining recommendation. You will be a definite step ahead of people who treated their internship like a vacation.”
Garcia also advises new BMETs to ask lots and lots of questions. “Your coworkers will be excellent sources of information,” he said. “They will know all the shortcuts and tricks that aren’t in the service manuals.”
As the youngest of five BMETs in his department at North Memorial, Garcia has plenty of opportunity to learn from his more seasoned colleagues. “They are very, very good at their job,” he said. “They look out for me and know that I’m still learning. They only step in when I’m really stumped.”
Garcia was the first BMET intern at North Memorial to be allowed into the operating room during a procedure. He recalls the experience as both exciting and significant. “That’s why we wear scrubs on duty,” he said. “You never know when you’ll get paged to head to the OR to recalibrate a machine the surgeons and nurses are depending on to safeguard the life of their patient.”
“For the biomedical equipment technician, good enough is never good enough.”
Emergency repairs during surgery are now a routine part of Garcia’s job. That’s one reason Steve Bezanson pointed out that working as a biomedical equipment technician offers the chance to be a hero on a regular basis.
“What might seem like a minor fix to the BMET will invariably make all the difference for the doctors and nurses immersed in an operation,” Bezanson said. “They know that they can count on BMETs like Chris to step in and save the day.”
Garcia also handles preventative maintenance for ambulance equipment, both ground and air. North Memorial features five helicopter locations and numerous ground ambulance locations all over Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin.
“Part of my job involves traveling to places like Princeton, Waseca and Faribault to service medical equipment used in emergency situations,” he said. “I haven’t counted all the ambulance locations, but there are quite a few. The metro area is by far the biggest.”
Garcia appreciates the professionalism and camaraderie at North Memorial and can’t wait to get to work in the morning. “I love working in a hospital environment,” he said. “As soon as I got here I knew that this was the place I wanted to be. My workday is filled with variety and I take great pride in the job I do. The people here are the best.”
As for his long-term goals, Garcia looks forward to raising his two sons, Tyler, 10, and Cole, 5, to be even more successful than their father. He also sees himself and his wife, Andrea, a former coworker he met while employed at the credit union, as financially comfortable, but with no desire to be excessively rich.
Imbued with a natural dedication to his profession, Garcia fully understands the colossal responsibility that goes with the day-to-day functions of his job. “For the biomedical equipment technician,” he said, “good enough is never good enough.”
Graduates of the Biomedical Equipment Technology program are prepared to inspect, calibrate, maintain and repair diagnostic, monitoring, therapeutic and life-saving equipment in hospitals, clinics and university medical centers. BMETs work in close association with doctors, registered nurses, scientists, health care technicians and medical administrators.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for BMETs is projected to grow much faster than average in the U.S., increasing 22 percent through 2016. Salary.com reports that the mean annual wage nationally for BMETs passed $49,000 as of January 2008. The top 10 percent make close to $60,000 a year.