As hospital engineers, there is a tendency to undervalue our contribution to the healthcare system. We know that our work is important, but we do not shout about it and this needs to change

from a young tradesman to the Director of Engineering and Building Services over the following two decades. I have worked in healthcare now for almost 30 years. It is a fulfilling environment to work in and we need to communicate the importance of this work to a new generation of engineers; to put healthcare engineering on their radar. Trades people could also be encouraged to consider the opportunities that exist in this field. In the past, marine engineers often transferred straight into hospitals, but these skills are not so prominent today and there is an opportunity to capitalise on the pool of emerging trade-based talent. When we look at our membership, it is clear that the membership is ageing and we need to look at how relevant industry organisations such as the IHEA and IFHE are to young people, today. This is where learning and development opportunities will prove helpful in developing careers for a younger generation. We are raising the profile of the

Institute of Healthcare Engineering Australia, with a fresh marketing strategy, targeting new graduates, universities and STEM colleges. We are working hard to

enhance membership benefits, by facilitating and promoting networking opportunities. Networking is a critical part of what our organisations provide. Connections with stakeholders in the industry opens doors and creates opportunities that are about relationships and people. The older generation needs to

encourage the younger generation to get involved and commit to membership – and to commit to their own career. There appears to be a different mind-set in young people today – they are moving around the globe and many choose not to lock into a career in the same way as previous generations. We need to understand how we can best support them, therefore. Healthcare engineering is also

becoming increasingly regulated and there is increasing scrutiny of expertise. Stakeholders and the wider community have an expectation of better outcomes from today’s healthcare providers, and this is driving increased expectations in relation to health estates. Engineering is at our core, yet the role is becoming much broader. It is becoming increasingly focused on facilities management and with a much broader scope of responsibilty. While a singular, professional engineering qualification was perhaps sufficient in the past, people are now being stretched outside of their core skills set and this requires a different response. There are significant efforts to

certify and qualify individuals, working in healthcare engineering, to further develop their expertise and professionalism. We need to ensure that new entrants into the field are upskilled and developed, so that they can grow themselves as individuals and acquire the technical expertise required to meet increasing expectations of the sector.

Tools are being introduced to assist with this career development. One example is a professional

The ‘IHEA Logbook’ is a mobile app designed to make the recording of professional development activity easier


development and learning app, developed by the Institute of Healthcare Engineering, Australia (IHEA). Launched earlier this year, the ‘IHEA Logbook’ is a mobile app designed to make the recording of professional development activity easier and to enable better recognition of the transferable skills of individuals operating within the field of healthcare engineering. It allows you to: l Capture all learning activities, both formal and informal, as and when the learning occurs – this development could be in workplace training, meetings, undertaking a review of technical journals and bulletins, attending conferences and state meetings.

l Accrue CPD points based on activities. l Participate in online learning activities. You can choose from mobile learning activities, including short videos and audio segments on the app.

l Keep all your learning and development records, achievements and evidence in one place, where it is always available for update, review and reference.

The aim is to map this learning against a robust professional qualification. In short, we want to recognise the value of the learning that is intrinsic to people’s everyday tasks.

Valuing hospital engineers Ultimately, as hospital engineers, there is a tendency to undervalue our contribution to the healthcare system. We know that our work is important, but we do not shout about it and this needs to change. While not diminishing the achievements of our healthcare professionals, those who saved a patient’s life today, could only do this because a hospital engineer took steps, last week, to ensure the medical gases, power systems, and operating theatre lights were all working. If we don’t maintain and repair the nurse call system, someone isn’t going to get the care and response they need. While those delivering the clinical

outcomes are celebrated, the work that our members carry out is often behind the scenes and less obvious. It is when something goes wrong that people begin to fully understand and appreciate the value of healthcare engineering professionals. We need to raise the profile of the work that we do; because every day we make a difference to improve the outcomes of our healthcare system. IFHE

Reference 1 Healthcare’s climate footprint: How the health sector contributes to the global climate crisis and opportunities for action, published by Health Care Without Harm, in collaboration with Arup, September 2019. Accessed at: ClimateFootprintReport.


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