The nature of biomedical equipment repair makes fully online degree programs in this field of study unavailable; however, hybrid programs that allow some coursework to be completed online exist. Hybrid associate's and bachelor's degree programs are available, supplementing labwork with online study. An associate's degree is generally required for entry-level work as a biomedical equipment technician, but a bachelor's degree may be necessary for career advancement, potentially to a technologist position. Master's degree programs in biomedical engineering are also available via distance learning and can be completed fully online, though these programs are primarily designed for current or prospective biomedical engineers.
Associate's Degree in Biomedical Engineering Technology
Associate of Science and Associate of Applied Science in Biomedical Engineering Technology (BMET) programs may be offered as hybrid programs that allow students to take some courses through online delivery methods. Biomedical equipment technology is an alternate title for these degree programs. Students learn how to fix, operate, and care for medical equipment.
Program Information and Requirements
An associate's degree in BMET requires 64-72 credit hours. Due to the hands-on nature of many BMET classes, there is a heavy lab work component that must be completed on campus. Schools that offer online learning usually allow general education credits and some of the less clinically intensive BMET courses to be earned at a distance.
Online course materials are accessed through an electronic learning management system such as Desire2Learn. They are presented asynchronously allowing students to read assignments and work on homework at any time as long as certain deadlines are met.
The curriculum of an associate's degree in BMET consists of core BMET and general education courses. The general education credits come from English, math, humanities, and social science classes.
Biomedical Equipment and Electronics
This course introduces the different types of equipment used in medical settings. Methods of operating the equipment are studied as well as how to gauge measurements from these units. Radiology and nuclear equipment, waveform display devices, and fiber optics technology are typically highlighted.
Human Biology in BMET
Basic human biology, anatomy and physiology are examined as they relate to BMET. An emphasis is placed on the medical terminology needed to properly communicate in the medical environment. Biomedical equipment such as electrodes, transducers, and electrocardiographs are used to analyze the various components of the human body.
AC and DC Electronics
Students explore concepts and problem-solving methods related to working with AC and DC circuits. An in-depth comparison of AC and DC circuits is presented as well as topics such as meter measurement, voltage division, and oscilloscope operation. Other subjects discussed include Ohm's Law, Fourier analysis, Kirchoff's Law, and IC filters.
Bachelor's Degree in Biomedical Engineering Technology
A Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering Technology offers knowledge and skills for working with hospital equipment of a more complex nature. This degree program combines biological science and electronics engineering into a comprehensive instructional set for biomedical engineering technologists.
Program Information and Requirements
Credit requirements of 126-139 are in place for a bachelor's degree in BMET. The entire degree cannot be completed online because of required clinical lab work; however, general education requirements and some core classes may be completed online. Students usually have the freedom to work on the online materials at any time and from anywhere with an Internet connection.
A bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering technology includes courses in communications, humanities, math, science, and computer programming in addition to core BMET courses. A final project is also typically required in the student's senior year.
Medical Imaging and Radiography
This course examines the use of computer equipment to collect medical data through image acquisition. Different image producing technologies such as X-ray, computerized tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are studied. An emphasis is placed on safety while operating the equipment.
Special Patient Populations and Patient Safety
Students are familiarized with the different types of patients that they come into contact with on a regular basis in the medical world and the technology used to treat them. Newborns, trauma patients, and surgery patients are among the patient groups studied. Regulatory agencies, such as The Joint Commission and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are analyzed for their relationship to patient care and equipment safety.
Current Professional Issues and Topics in BMET
Contemporary subjects of interest pertaining to the biomedical community are discussed in detail. Recent trends in BMET are addressed by experts and supported by up-to-date research. Topics such as regulatory policy revision and the emerging of new cutting-edge technologies are reviewed.
Master's Degree in Biomedical Engineering Technology
Master of Science, Master of Science in Engineering and Master of Engineering programs provide students with advanced knowledge of medical equipment and engineering. These degree programs also highlight regulatory issues that are important to BMET professionals.
Program Information and Requirements
An average of 30 credit hours comprises the master's degree in biomedical engineering technology. Usually, no campus visits are required to complete this degree program because all of the clinical lab work has been completed through earlier degrees. The online program is generally a cohort program with weekly deadlines, assignments, and exams. Students may interact with their instructors and peers through online message boards, chat rooms, e-mail, and phone.
Some schools divide the curriculum of a master's degree in BMET into four different types of courses; core, foundation, depth, and breadth courses. Other schools classify the courses based on subjects such as biomedical engineering, life science, and professional ethics.
This course combines the theories and techniques of life science and engineering into a basic comprehension of the structure and function of living tissues. Engineering methods involving fluid dynamics, signal processing, and control electronics are analyzed. Topics such as drug delivery, bioartificial organs, and tissue transplantation are also covered.
The various types of biomaterials used in BMET settings are reviewed, along with structure and function. Biomaterial applications to different bodily organs and systems such as cardiovascular, respiratory, epidermal, and neural are studied. Emphasis is placed on biomimetic materials and tissue regeneration.
Regulatory Compliance and Issues Involving Biomedical Devices
Students receive a summary of the key federal legislation effecting the creation and sales of medical devices. There is a focus on the process of receiving FDA marketing approval for biomedical equipment. Regulatory science and quality compliance skills are acquired through instruction and mentoring by experts in those fields.
An associate's degree in biomedical engineering technology is a common pathway to a career as a medical equipment repairer. Extensive on-the-job training, along with supervision and mentoring from experienced repairers, is common upon initial entry into the field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that as of May 2015, there were 41,060 medical equipment repairers earning a median yearly salary of $46,340.
Earning a bachelor's degree allows medical equipment repairers to work on more complex machines and also prepares them for advancement into managerial positions. Advancement is also made possible by achieving certification from the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI). The AAMI offers certification for biomedical equipment technicians, radiology equipment specialists, and laboratory equipment specialists.
A master's degree in biomedical engineering technology provides medical equipment repairers with the advanced training necessary to progress to the highest levels of employment. A master's degree is not required for employment as a medical equipment repairer. A master's degree puts the graduate at the forefront of a rapidly growing occupation that the BLS predicted will increase by 6% between the years 2014 and 2024.
Medical equipment repairers take continuing education credits to keep their knowledge and skills up to date and to learn about cutting-edge technological innovations. Online options are often available for courses such as patient care equipment and technology, advanced medical systems, and biomedical equipment technology management.
Medical equipment repair degrees are offered at the associate's, bachelor's, and master's levels, with fully online options for graduate programs and partially online options for undergraduate programs. In order to stay relevant in their field, continuing education courses are likely necessary for graduates; these can often be taken online, as well.