By Ray Marden, CBET, CHTM
Creating a healthy work-life balance is a real struggle for many HTM professionals, and a linear approach to balance won’t get you far in modern health care. The proper management of equipment is a 24 hour job, so how do you maintain your energy when you have to take work home with you or you have to work nights because it’s the only time you can get to the equipment without disrupting patient care?
I was in a yoga class about ten years ago when it first occurred to me that balance is not static. It takes concentration and intent to hold a healthy balance. I’ve found that developing strong, tree-like balance requires constant adjustments, both gross and fine. It’s as true in the shop as it is on the mat.
Establish your limits.
Senior Imaging Specialist Greg Wolfe says, “Know your limits and stick to them, you’re replaceable at work but not at home”.
He’s right. Work is a very high priority, but it’s likely not number one on your list.
Knowing your limits and individual needs is just as important in your work-life practice as it is for the yoga student.
A seasoned BMET will always be on the lookout for scope creep, the phenomena of ever-increasing responsibilities for those that are willing to help or take on work outside of their established tasks. People will gladly hand things off to you if you aren’t careful. They likely mean no harm, and by no means am I suggesting that you shouldn’t help if you can. Just make sure you weigh the cost in terms of time and energy before you take something on to ensure that it isn’t crossing any of your hard lines.
I’ve seen many HTM pros lose spouses to work, leave jobs because of overwhelm or, in the worst cases, actually lose their lives to stress related conditions. Don’t pave that path for yourself!
There’s a line between taking your work seriously and taking it on personally.
As a culture, we have a toxic appreciation of people who are machines and never stop working. We call people who make work their whole life ‘dedicated’.
There’s a better way. One HTM leader I know says ‘balance’ is dated. She says a work-life synergy is the new reality, that there is a need to make sure that your home life empowers your work life and vice versa.
Thriving in the new reality means managing virtual creep.
Virtual meetings and training were already trending when the pandemic started, and those trends have become well-paved pathways since. This means that it is easier than ever for people to snag your time. The fatigue of attending meeting after meeting that you really don’t need to be fully present for is something that we don’t really understand yet, but I can give first hand testimony to just how exhausting these sessions can be.
If you must spend a lot of time in the virtual meeting environment, try to find some time just to walk and breathe fresh air. Stand up at your desk, pace around and find a way to keep your body in the game and oxygen in your brain.
Take your breaks. All of them. You earned them. You need them. All of them. They're yours. Take them. Take a walk. Call a friend. Don’t just sit on your device or play on social media, actually take a break away from your desk or bench.
Once you know your role and your limits and are doing what you can to stay healthy while at work, there’s not much more you can do from this side of the equation.
The other side of the equation is your home or personal life.
Presumably, you chose a career to facilitate your lifestyle. So plug into your personal life. The happiest HTM pros I know have cool habits and hobbies that keep them balanced or families with which they are actively engaged.
Day traders, moms, pilots, scuba divers, sailors, hunters, roller derby athletes, musicians, gardeners, dads, blacksmiths, marathoners, falconers and world travelers – I’ve met these all and more. In almost all cases, their passions never interfere with their work, and they always have something to look forward to and a twinkle in their eye.
Finding your version of the weekend enthusiast might just be your ticket to that synergy we discussed earlier.
Those with children at home may just find that family life fulfills them completely, and many working parents have no time for all that fun stuff. That’s great too! If your family life provides you with balance and nourishment, consider yourself lucky and don’t give it away by letting work get too far under your skin.
Do your best each day. Only you know your breaking point. Set some flags up to get your attention before you reach that point. HTM needs qualified people to do this work, and there is a shortage of them at a national level. Don’t let that become your problem though. It will burn you out. You are not the answer to the labor shortage, and it’s way easier to say no to the creep when you’ve already brought your A-game.
You are only one person, and only so much can be expected of one person. You may have to let some things go to maintain synergy.
Ask for help. Tell your manager that you are striving to create a healthy balance, let them know what feels out of balance at work and see if the two of you can adjust it. Remember, you never get to stop balancing. It is an active process, and it is your responsibility.
Small adjustments can make big changes in your perception of balance. Keep tuning. Don’t give up on yourself. There’s always room for improvement!
To hear her talk about the people she loves is to understand why Karen excels in her role at GE Healthcare. But the path she took to get here played a big part too.
Patient with a calm demeanor and excellent organizational and listening skills. It’s almost like our Field Service Engineer role was designed with Amanda in mind!
Throughout my career, I’ve noticed that there are almost as many different perspectives on certifications as there are certifications.
What considerations would lead someone to choose to become a healthcare technology management (HTM) professional?
I’ve written a lot about the important role LinkedIn can play in the career search. But recently, I’ve learned that TikTok is becoming a key part of that process.
If you are just starting out in the HTM field, you may feel obscure. Perhaps you think that you don’t have much to offer. That’s ok. The more people you interact with in this industry, the easier it will be to find your fit.
Mentorships always have been an important aspect of getting a foot in the door and climbing the career ladder. But many people from underserved communities don’t have the connections often needed to find someone to help them along.
Finding the right internship can be a challenging part of getting started in any business, and healthcare technology management (HTM) is no exception.
Will you fit in with the culture of the company you’re interviewing with? That has been a topic of conversation for quite some time, but as COVID-19 upended the workplace and brought remote work to the forefront, the definition of “culture fit” has been upended too.
Be prepared to speak about your intangible gifts indirectly. Show more than you tell. Speak truthfully, confidently, and casually about your skills and capacities.