Profiles and interviews with overseas health workers and UK volunteers.
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Biomedical Engineer Technician (BMET)
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Received a Diploma in Biomedical Engineering Technology at NORTEC, Ndola (Supported by THET).
“I chose to do a Biomedical Engineer Technician (BMET) Diploma because I love engineering and the combination of that with the medical side is very interesting. It is difficult being a BMET especially because in the hospital, when the first machine breaks down staff just put it aside, and the same thing happens when the second one breaks, finally when the last one breaks down they will bring it to us and say ‘fix this’ we don’t have anything to use now. So I feel a lot of pressure but the training has really helped and now I feel as if I help to save lives.
I have been working at Chongwe District Hospital as part of the Medical Equipment Uptime Project for almost six months now. I took an inventory when I started and found 120 items of equipment here but once I begun to show staff I could fix equipment, more broken equipment began to appear (equipment that had previously been hidden or locked away during the inventory).
I remember discovering that there was only one suction machine used for all the operations in the hospital, of course this is a huge risk as when this the patients airways cannot be cleared of fluid during the operation causing patients to suffer further. After seeing that the broken suction machines had very simple problems like damaged power cables or connections I fixed them and made sure that every ward had one.
I was also able to keep oxygen concentrators, which two patients depended on, running while the power grid was switched off for the connection of solar back-up (for about 30 mins).
At the beginning of the Project the hospital had just 73% of equipment working now we have 90% working. Within the project, I also hear about what happens in the other project hospitals, and learn how to be more effective, especially with who to report issues to, and how to work with hospital administration.
Looking to the future I would love to gain higher qualifications in electronics, after all if you improve on that, you can research problems better than just the troubleshooting. It would also be great to move to a bigger hospital, of course it’s nice when you know it’s only you, but in a bigger hospital you get to have more experience and more exposure – the bigger the better.”
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