Thomas 1 Stefan Thomas 6 March 2018 The Savior: Life as a Biomedical Engineering Technician “[Biomedical Engineering] makes me feel like I can do anything, like do the impossible at certain times.” Those are the inspirational words of Justin Mani, a young Biomedical Engineering Technician, currently working at New York Presbyterian Hospital (NYPH). Mr. Mani and I originally met in November of 2017, for we shared a mutual friend. Ever since then, I’ve had brief conversations with him about college and my current major, Biomedical Engineering (BME). Interested to learn more about the field, I met with him at a local Panera Bread to further discuss the specifics of his career. For as long as he can remember, Mr. Mani has always had a strong interest in the field medicine; helping people and making a difference have always been goals he wanted to achieve. Additionally, he had a passion for building things and other “hands-on” activities. With those initial interests in mind, coupled with a bit of research, he discovered the field that would eventually be his career—Biomedical Engineering. Mani’s career began at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), located on Long Island, New York. He recounted that during his undergraduate studies, his education primarily focused on engineering theories and principles, with very limited hands-on experience. While it is necessary to comprehend foundational engineering concepts, he continually emphasized that hands-on experience carries more value and allows one to better understand the field. Eager to put his knowledge to practice, Mani actively sought out an internship while in school. NYPH was the first company to reach out to him and offer him a position as an intern in the Biomedical Engineering department. After being witness to Mani’s stellar work ethic, the department offered Mani a full-time position as a Biomedical Engineering Technician. Without hesitation, he took the position because “it felt like the right environment [he] wanted to be in.”
Thomas 2 A Biomedical Engineering Technician is essentially “a mechanic for medical equipment” and their mission is to create “new and safe environments for the patients”; they are responsible for taking care of a wide range of equipment and utilities in the hospital, everything from little thermometers to Computed Tomography (CT) machines and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines. They also respond to service calls, initiate preventative maintenance, and conduct repairs. A normal day consists of a mix and match of any of these tasks, thus BME Technicians must always be prepared for anything that comes their way. One anecdote that Mani shared with me concerned when he was called into the Operating Room (OR) to inspect a dysfunctional anesthesia machine. In that moment, Mani had to quickly determine if the machine could be repaired or if it needed to be replaced, demonstrating quick decision-making skills and the ability to work under pressure, which are elemental characteristics of a BME Technician. At NYPH, the BME department, comprised of approximately 75 individuals, is further subdivided into multiple separate teams. Mani heavily emphasized that working in team environments is fundamental to making progress and working efficiently to complete designated tasks, “otherwise nothing gets done properly.” A few months prior, Mani and the BME department completed one of their most daring tasks: a 7-8 month project known as the Central Monitoring System. In essence, the department was centralizing all the medication in approximately 4,000 fridges scattered throughout the hospital to easily monitor it. This project extended outside of the BME department and required the various skillsets of the IT Department, doctors, and the nursing staff; “everyone [was] in the loop,” illustrating the collaboration of many teams and divisions in order to effectively and efficiently execute a project. In any engineering field, it is imperative to have strong communication, in both verbal and written form, to relay information to each other in team environments. Mani uses all forms
Thomas 3 of communication every day including emails, which he checks frequently, phone calls, text, huddles, which are daily departmental meetings, occurring at least once a day, that debrief the day’s activities to ensure that everyone is on the same page. While there is no need to use complex engineering software, Mani primarily uses Microsoft Excel to record data into the company’s database called Main Spring; on rare occasions, uses Word and PowerPoint to compose proposals and give presentations. While Mani is not personally affiliated with any professional organizations, NYPH collaborates with a spectrum of corporations including Philips, GE, Dragerwerk, Baxter, and Olaris, and oftentimes Mani and his colleagues travel to these companies to receive training and certification to handle the different equipment these companies provide. Every July, there is a national Biomedical Engineering conference, and although Mani has not attended one yet, he has heard of new innovations and technology from his colleagues who have attended. Mani reads certain periodicals and scientific articles to deepen his knowledge regarding these innovations and the engineering field. During his time at NYPH, Mani has enhanced his communication and handyman skills, and they will continue to develop as he continues in his career. He is passionate about witnessing and being a part of innovative change, as seen with the Central Monitoring System. But the most rewarding aspect of his job is the feeling of self- accomplishment that comes knowing that he can do anything that is thrown at him. Whenever Mani responds to a service call, he walks in like “the little savior” who can face any challenge handed to him. That feeling is like no other, and it is why he loves what he does. In the closing remarks of the interview, he gave me his greatest advice: “Start with an internship.” From hearing his story, I am excited for the journey that lies before me and I hope to be as passionate for helping people and making a difference as he is.