Job Title: Support Engineer
Type of Company: My company designs, sells and supports medical systems, including monitors and life support equipment, medical informatics and medical information systems. It is currently the second largest medical informatics company in the world.
Education: MS, Computer Science
Previous Experience: After graduating from college as a pre-med, I worked for 10 years as a public school science teacher, which got me a position as course developer for a major computer manufacturer. That in turn (1) earned me an MS in Computer Science and (2) changed my position to IT support. I then took a position as a medical support engineer and was promoted in time to support engineer for bedside, critical care and anesthesiology systems.
Job Tasks: -I am responsible for support of medical information systems. That involves 1. being thoroughly knowledgeable in the internals and specifications of my systems 2. know standard troubleshooting techniques for the products 3. working directly with the developers and clinicians to resolve issues - Participate in product improvement efforts, which is a twofold responsibility: 1. analyze defects, shortcomings, and operating loopholes and recommend corrections 2. recommend enhancements or changes to improve use, efficiency, and overall product quality - Provide expert opinion and testimony for product approval and defect reporting process, as defined in country/region laws and regulations (FDA, European union, etc.)
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best things about the job are the continual updates to keep pace with new developments in medicine, computers, networking, and human interfacing, and the satisfaction of saving and improving lives.
Worst: 24x7 support and long hours, dealing with difficult and sometimes irrational/confrontational customers.
Job Tips: Only do this if you love it! If you do not enjoy challenging issues, medical and cybernetic details, and continual interaction with users and colleagues, do NOT go into this career! You will be competing with persons (such as myself) who do love the work, and they will quickly overshadow you. Many people in this line of work ended up here after first careers in biomed, clinical, or nursing careers, backgrounds that are highly prized in the informatics world.
Additional Thoughts: There is a lot of drudgery in this work: continual adherence to bureaucratic rules and regulations and attention to mundane details in reports and troubleshooting logs will take up the bulk of your time. TV medical shows show everything as exciting but that is far from the truth. The satisfaction comes in far smaller doses; repetition and minutia make up most of what you do, and the recognition you receive is often small or nonexistent. But the satisfaction in a well-done project that truly does benefit some patient or medical group is VERY high and well worth the career choice.
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