By K. Richard Douglas
No one has ever serviced an imaging device without first getting some type of training; whether that be through the manufacturer, a third-party provider, in-house or from a mentor. Without quality training, there would be nobody to service the many thousands of MRI, CT, X-ray or ultrasound devices. Each modality requires a special skill set.
Thankfully, just as there are those who choose to work as imaging service engineers, there are those devoted to training imaging service professionals to do the job right. One of those people, who has had a profound impact over many years, is Art Larson, MBA, general manager of Global Services Training and Documentation for GE Healthcare.
With a quarter of the HTM workforce expected to retire during the next decade, Larson’s experience and focus on technology in teaching, will play an important role in meeting that challenge. Larson uses a variety of techniques to share his knowledge, including augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) training sessions. A world of experience will leave an enormous vacuum as many baby boomers retire from the imaging service profession. These new training methods will help prepare a new generation.
Larson has been with GE Healthcare for 35 years. He has held a number of positions within the company that include 14 years in engineering roles, four years as Six Sigma/sales operations leader and 17 years in various service leadership roles.
“Each new role gave me more experiences into the life of our customer, our industry and our business. This is an amazing responsibility we have within imaging, and our biomed area, to serve our population’s health needs,” he says.
While not many people consider imaging service training as a profession when starting out, it was an interest in teaching and the process of learning that first motivated Larson.
“I’ve actually thought of myself as a teacher for most of my adult life. My various roles and mentoring roles have helped shape my understanding of learning and the importance of a balanced approach to learning/doing/evaluating to improve yourself. My current role is a perfect fit for all of the experiences I have had within GE Healthcare,” Larson says.
“I began my career at GE Healthcare (GE Medical Systems) in 1983 right out of college as a CT software engineer. I fell in love with our technology and the ability to be a part of something that truly would help our health,” he adds.
Larson went on to earn his MBA after five years with GE.
Understand How Trainees Learn
The retirement of a whole generation of HTM professionals and imaging specialists has required a shift in focus for training. Larson has watched this event play out and has adopted his training approach to address it.
He says that it is important to understand how to best approach those you are teaching. He says that you then teach them the way that they learn.
“We are seeing a significant change in our population of field engineers. Our experts of 30-40 years are retiring in waves and we are replacing them with younger engineers that learn and experience their work in different ways,” he says.
Larson says that with the new generation of imaging engineers, it is absolutely critical that the approach to training meets both their learning needs and the needs of his customers.
“Our industry is retiring in significant numbers over the next five years. We have to use technology (AR, VR) to combat the loss of experience and increase the instant learning/guidance of our field engineers. This is an industry concern and we are helping to lead the transition for our GE team as well as our customer teams,” Larson says.
Larson finds some time to steal away from the rigors of training the next generation of imaging service professionals and get outdoors for some enjoyment.
“I enjoy spending time on the back roads of Wisconsin cycling and playing on some great golf courses for relaxation. Some day I hope to ride across the USA to raise money for a favorite charity,” he says.
His family includes his wife Connie of 34 years, two grown daughters and a beautiful two-year-old granddaughter.
Larson also brings his experience as a parent to a good cause.
“I mentor a young man from Milwaukee in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Milwaukee. We have been together for two years and hope to see him through high school and into college,” he says.
However, Larson never loses sight of the importance of having well-trained imaging engineers to maintain diagnostic equipment crucial to health care.
“I feel very privileged to be part of an industry that has so much to provide to our population. We, as providers of health care products and services, have a tremendous responsibility to provide the best solutions for our customers and be an active part in the improvement of precision health, so our family, our neighbors and our global fellow man can live healthy lives for the moments that matter,” Larson says.
“I thank God each day for the opportunity to serve our GE team to be the best they can be for this mission. I take pride in knowing that in some, small way; we are making a difference.”