Bright Ideas and Best Practices at SPC Make National Biomedical Instrumentation News

October 1, 2018

Public Information Officer

The best-practices of St. Philip's College’s unique Biomedical Engineering Technology students, faculty and program make industry history as first college featured for Bright Ideas in an edition of the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation's prestigious peer reviewed journal Biomedical Instrumentation & Technology

St. Philip's College operates one of the leading community college-level instrumentation programs in the nation, with a faculty that leads alumni of several popular instrumentation specialization business units at the college to annual U.S. salaries in the $100,000 range.

Many of those students either are among the few or the only in the world collocated with a human patient simulation center and the bevy of complex medical equipment that they can examine with a level of service and responsibility akin to the physician-patient relationship. It’s not really brain surgery, at times it is a close cousin as it is routine to see second-year community college students of Biomedical Engineering Technology repairing the quadrants of brains in training aids---robotic babies with fully transparent skulls---in the college’s Frank R. Bryant Human Patient Simulation Center.

For innovatively addressing one of the most pressing issues in the healthcare technology industry with a sustainable solution---curriculum for the biomedical engineering technologist---the peer-reviewed journal dedicated to those who use, manage, and develop medical technology selected St. Philip's College as the first college it has ever featured in the Bright Ideas section of their magazine.

The September/October 2018 Biomedical Instrumentation & Technology report Creating a Modern Healthcare Technology Management Curriculum by author Gavin Stern featured three college interview subjects and several images of activity at the college. From the Biomedical Engineering Technology Department within the college’s Applied Electrical & Mechanical Technology Division, Alberto Vasquez (program director), Jemal Nelson (adjunct faculty member) and Roy Ruiz (faculty member) were each interviewed for the article.

"Our national society did an interview with myself, Jemal, and Roy because they were interested in what we are doing with our curriculum," said Vasquez. "They normally interview hospital-clinical engineers and technologists or medical device-manufacturer engineers and technologists. The editor mentioned that he thought that what we are doing here at St. Philip’s College is worth including in the Bright Ideas section of their bi-monthly journal. We were great!" Vasquez said. 

"I’m fulfilling my mission of bringing us closer to having the best program in the nation in biomedical engineering technology," Vasquez continued. "For the last 10 years, since coming to education, it has felt like I was several levels removed from my profession. Today, I am honored that my national society feels otherwise. That what I have been working on with our students and our faculty is valuable to the profession," said Vasquez.

Thermajean Jones is chair of the Health Sciences and Histologic Technology Department that recently merged Vasquez's innovative program within the college's Biosciences and Public Safety Division.

"The most positive thing about them integrating into our division is the opportunity for students to do hands-on work in our college's Center for Health Professions building, calibrating the same equipment on our campus that they will use in the real world. It gives us the ability to integrate a new mass casualty program where biomedical instrumentation technicians will place equipment on a network where nurses can monitor patients in different rooms and spaces within our facilities. We will have that ability to do that with their assistance in our Human Patient Simulation Center setting. They are in the right place and they are in the right home. It's a great value-added that is being noticed.

“Our students will see all of the equipment, not just for the basic nursing, but surgical, cardiovascular, radiology, all of our OB and lab equipment... they will understand preventive maintenance better and also the manufacturers. A lot of our equipment is internationally sourced, and they work on Asian, European and American circuitry. The students will help us determine when to call the companies during their new residence with us. It's always good to have those extra trained sets of eyes. We treat them as such. We understand what an asset they are to our department---both faculty and students. Our biomeds work hand in hand with us on our units. It’s a rare college that can do what we do. It deserves wider attention, and this peer recognition is an important step," said Jones. 

The AAMI Bright Ideas Award project began when Vasquez received an email invitation to share his best practices with the publication, as an active association member. 

"The magazine conducts national searches for professionals in clinical engineering who are doing something unique and successful that can benefit the profession," said Vasquez. "Hopefully what we do here is something that can be replicated at other hospitals and colleges," said Vasquez.

Although the e-version of the story is subscription-only, the college e-subscribes to the magazine with a 180-day embargo and makes it available for review online though its Center for Learning Resources nursing and health database. Contact librarian Anna Degado at 210-486-2358, adelgado102@alamo.edu in a few months to review the article, or contact Vasquez at 210-486–2318, avasquez15@alamo.edu for an appointment to view the students and their program. 

CAPTION: In an archival image taken by fellow 2017 biotechnology engineering program alumnus Nicholas Castro, 2017 alumnus Rainier Bautista operates the controller on an infant incubator the students modified to support the air life operations at University Health System as part of his St. Philip's College clinical experience. For innovatively addressing one of the most pressing issues in the healthcare technology industry with a sustainable solution---curriculum for the biomedical engineering technologist---the Biomedical Instrumentation & Technology peer-reviewed journal dedicated to those who use, manage, and develop medical technology selected St. Philip's College as the first college it has ever featured in the Bright Ideas section of their magazine in 2018. (Courtesy image)