IS NOW THE TIME TO EMBRACE ACCREDITED UNDERGRADUATE CLINICAL ENGINEERING PROGRAMS IN THE USA?
Boston University, USA
Undergraduate biomedical engineering education has had a meteoric trajectory in the U.S.A., whereas undergraduate clinical engineering education has remained essentially in limbo. In the U.S.A. today there are no accredited (or unaccredited) clinical engineering (CE) undergraduate programs, despite that fact that the number of accredited undergraduate biomedical engineering programs is fast approaching 100. A few biomedical engineering undergraduates, upon receiving their B.S. degree, work in hospitals or shared-service organizations, but they often lack experience in critical clinical environments to be effective immediately. They need additional training to become effective. According to the most recent definition of a clinical engineer by the American College of Clinical Engineering (ACCE) used at the recent Global Clinical Engineering Summit in Hangzhou, China on 23 October 2015, “A Clinical Engineer is a professional who supports and advances patient care by applying engineering, economics, communication and managerial skills to healthcare technology.” - modified ACCE definition, 1992.The CE profession needs practitioners with new skillsets - both for emerging graduates and people at all stages of their careers. Now is the appropriate time to consider a) the realm of knowledge required for CEs to be successful in clinical environments and b) more formal educational vehicles needed for achieving these outcomes, possibly through accredited undergraduate and graduate educational programs. In this talk, the question of whether or not now is the time to embrace accredited undergraduate clinical engineering programs is raised. The successful rise of the Occupational Therapy Profession is used as a possible model for promoting Clinical Engineering.