By K. Richard Douglas
The principle and capability of an X-ray machine was all the convincing one imaging technician needed to enter the imaging service profession. It was that enlightenment that checked all the boxes for Timothy Hooks, CHTM, CBET, CRES.
Hooks is an independent HTM consultant.
“What drove me to the imaging arena was partly due to a random chance meeting with an X-ray service engineer while working at my first major biomedical position at Bay Harbor Hospital. He said, ‘Yeah, I am just working on this machine that uses invisible X-rays that penetrate your body.’ Honestly, at the time, that was just the coolest thing I had ever heard of,” Hooks says.
“Also, Manny Roman visiting CMIA back around 1998, and attending his X-ray fundamentals seminar, had a tremendous effect on my interest. I didn’t realize until then, because of the track I took to get into this industry, what we could be involved with,” Hooks adds.
I continued to work on imaging equipment and general HTM equipment until I was able to obtain my CBET and later my CRES which allowed me to get my first dedicated imaging position working for Medstone International, now Healthtronics, as a field engineer covering the Northeastern United States,” Hooks says.
Hooks says that his training came via strong electronics training through the North Orange County Regional Occupational Program (NOCROP) via a college transferable credit course, that existed at the time, lots of self-study and lots of on-the-job and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) training. He also attended and successfully completed their Nursing Cardiac Monitor Technician program.
“Thankfully, RSTI offered the CRES program that I took along with my own personal study material. Years of continued personal study, working for multiple imaging OEM companies, on-the-job training, third-party and OEM factory schools and ergo here we are,” he says.
The positions he has held have ranged from HTM probe technician to imaging tech II and imaging tech lead. He is also a subject matter expert consultant to three law firms and a member of the AAMI ACI CHTM certification committee.
Hooks says that his areas of specialty include CT, regulatory FDA documentation, PM procedures, mentoring junior imaging employees and staying current on new and evolving HTM imaging-related regulatory requirements.
In the broader scope, Hooks says that getting into the profession served a bigger purpose.
“Indirectly there was a humanitarian aspect that I could sense would better humanity as an aspect of its ultimate purpose,” he says.
Imaging experience and leadership experience are areas where Hooks can be of benefit to others.
“As an independent HTM consultant currently, I am serving on AAMI’s ACI CHTM Certification Committee in addition to offering incident investigation services to various law firms; something like biomedical forensic engineering of sorts,” Hooks says.
“Also, I am currently actively interviewing for various positions across the country. I also provide laboratory consulting billable back to our company. We have a perfume laboratory that utilizes biomedical laboratory processes and guidelines,” he says.
Sharing a Bright Idea
Asked about challenges, Hooks says that some are older, like Y2K, and others are part and parcel of the profession, like The Joint Commission constantly changing things around [and] new CMS requirements.
“[I] had my LSS certification project published in AAMI’s Bright Ideas column. [I] was one of only approximately 25 at the time to be dual certified as both a CBET and CRES; was part of the first batch of 18 to be certified as a CHTM and first to be triple certified as a CHTM, CBET, CRES,” Hooks says.
He says that he did the work to get the CHTM certification because of “career marketability and I had wanted to get the CCE before they discontinued it back on, or around, 1999.”
Hooks also says that he served as a medical design judge for HOSA. HOSA is an international student organization. According to the organization’s website; “HOSA’s two-fold mission is to promote career opportunities in the health care industry and to enhance the delivery of quality health care to all people.”
He says that during his involvement, students submitted innovative health/medical designs that would provide solutions for a problem.
“During the convention, they asked if I, along with one other person from the local university, would act as a judge for the student projects,” Hooks says.
The judges had scorecards that allowed the projects to be rated on multiple metrics.
“It was definitely an experience to remember. One of the most memorable projects was a medicine bottle that would alarm when it was time to take your medicine, which was intended for people who had trouble remembering to take their medicine for whatever reason,” Hooks says.
Hooks says that there was a call for Bright Idea project submissions and he submitted his imaging project to AAMI.
“My LSS project, that was published in AAMI’s BI&T and sponsored by Texas Health Resources, was submitted to Fortune Magazine as a testimony to the positive employee work environment present at Texas Health Resources,” he says.
Hooks recognized that there could be steps taken to reduce the downtime of imaging equipment. Using knowledge learned through Lean Six Sigma training, he developed his five “S’s” approach, which included “Sort, Store, Shine, Standardize, Sustain,” in order to create a more efficient process.
According to the AAMI Bright Ideas article, the result was “decreased equipment downtime, less time looking for existing parts, less waiting on replacement supplies, and enhanced response time to routine and emergency service requests.”
When not working, Hooks like to read science-related material and the Bible, research, exercise, blog (HTMTrends.blogspot.com) or work on the fragrance decants business.
Hooks has been married to his “wonderful wife” Mae for 18 years. They have two sons; Seth and Sam.
Hooks points out that an important skill in imaging service is to understand that the only thing that never changes is change itself. Embracing that fact can be beneficial.
“This industry has definitely been going through some unique changes which would obviously present unique challenges. Whilst some of these situations seem for the better and others perhaps not so much, one thing is true and that is that we need to embrace the change to be successful,” he says.
“I guess, just like Facebook needs to keep all those content developers employed ergo the new updates that seemingly never stop rolling out, we shouldn’t be surprised that the regulatory bodies are constantly moving the target, they need to make sure we aren’t getting complacent or resting on our laurels,” Hooks adds.
He says to stay positive and keep a good attitude and things will work out.
“Remember, the ultimate goal is providing safe and reliable health care services while balancing costs; if you can embrace this then you are where you need to be mentally,” Hooks says.