By K. Richard Douglas
Sometimes, its just a matter of observing what others do for a living that lights the spark for a career readjustment. That’s exactly what happened to Ken Luong, a modality service engineer with GE Healthcare.
Luong was impressed with the field engineers who he encountered. He already knew his way around the operational side of imaging equipment.
“I have always been interested in electronics since I was a child, but I pursued the medical field instead. I was working as an X-ray tech in the hospital and I ran into a lot of field engineers and their work seemed very interesting so I went back to school to pursue it,” he says.
“I was working as an X-ray tech in Tacoma, Washington. It was a tough decision to move on, but I wanted to follow my interest in electronics. This is perfect for me because I am able to do what I love and still able to stay in health care to help out patients,” he adds.
Luong’s training came by way of the respected DoD training program.
“I went to the Department of Defense (DoD) BMET school in Fort Sam, Texas. I was in the Army Reserve at the time I was looking into this field, and the DoD BMET school is the best one in the world, so I decided to pursue it. I talked to a lot of friends in the military and they guided me onto this path. The school itself is 10 months long. After that, I also took a biomed management course with the Army,” Luong says.
He joined the Army in 2001, prior to 9/11.
“I deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom to the Middle East for about 14 months. I took on many duties in the reserves such as squad leader, platoon sergeant and detachment NCO,” he says.
Luong says that he was working as a BMET for a hospital after he graduated from BMET school. After that, he took an externship with GE Healthcare and was hired on as a field service engineer.
“I was working as a BMET for a small hospital in San Diego, California when I received emails from the Army Reserve recruiting qualified BMETs to attend their military externship program with GE Healthcare,” he says.
“I took the opportunity, applied to the program and got accepted. I started out with GE Healthcare in Orange County, California as an extern and got hired at the end of the program. The externship program is one-year long; my experience included one BMET and one imaging rotation,” Luong says.
Today, his territory for GE Healthcare is Orange County and metro Los Angeles.
Going the Extra Mile
In Luong’s position, top-notch training is all part of professional development. It is just one component of a trifecta of challenges.
“It’s hard to find balance between a busy work schedule and attending training for new equipment. I’m working on getting my CRES certification for this field,” he says.
He is studying and plans on taking the CRES exam in May.
His training has prepared him for the type of detective work that comes with the job. One occasion illustrates this and his willingness to go the extra mile to help a customer.
“I ran into many tough repairs, but this one event is very memorable. I was called into a small hospital to troubleshoot a CT scanner. This place is small so they only have one scanner available. It was a high-voltage issue and I determined that the X-ray tube was the problem. I found a tube locally and began to install it about four hours later,” he says.
“During calibrations, the system aborted scanning again due to high-voltage issues; at this point I didn’t know if the new tube was bad or if another component in the system was bad,” Luong says.
He returned to troubleshooting to get the repair completed since the customer was under a tight schedule.
“I finally found out that the inverter shorted out during calibrations, but we don’t have that part stocked locally. I had to order the part with special handling and promise the customer that I would come in to install it as soon as it arrives. Their contract doesn’t cover 24/7, but I decided to come in late at night anyway to help the customer in need,” Luong says.
When not on the job, Luong likes to ride motorcycles, fish and go to the shooting range.
Luong says that he is just a regular guy working hard to achieve the American dream.
“Trying my best to serve my community [and] country while taking care of my family,” he adds.
That commitment has paid off well for the many customers and patients who depend on his expertise.