Please take a moment to meet with our colleague Josh Simmons, a Service Engineer at Probo Medical Ltd. Josh had his first taste of his role while on school work experience. It was during this time he gained an insight into the healthcare industry and it was this that made him decide to pursue a career in engineering.
Tell us about your usual day as a Service Engineer?
A typical day will firstly start with travelling to the location of the job. The distance/ location is always varied as it could be anywhere in the U.K. which means no two days are ever the same. Once arrived on site, (if it’s a hospital) I will sign in with at the medical engineering department or make the main contact aware of my attendance. It can be nice if you have developed a relationship with the customer or contact, to have a catch up if time allows it. We consider customer report to be one of the most important parts of our role.
Once checked in, I will then find the system I need to work on. I will then set up my kit and begin the job. Typically, a call out it will require some problem solving. Especially if the cause of the fault is completely unknown. This is a great way of being able to put my skills and knowledge to use and an even better feeling if I get to the bottom of the problem! The timing on call outs also varies massively, depending on the task at hand. Sometimes, you must be prepared for a later finish than expected when doing call outs, however, you have the knowledge that without you, the system would still be broken/ faulty.
On the other hand, the job could be a routine service, which follows a more structured and methodical approach. It’s likely that you know what to expect on these jobs. Which isn’t bad thing, as you know that when you leave, the system it will be in a better condition overall than when you found it. An ultrasound service typically takes around one hour for smaller, or portable systems and two hours for larger systems, so on average I would complete around two or three services in a day, either at one, or it can be at multiple sites.
After either a call out or service is completed, I will then let the customer know and complete my paperwork. Or in other words the ‘service report form’. This includes all the details of the work carried out, any parts used, if a follow up job is required, the start and end times etc. this is then sent off to the coordinators back in the office, and also to the customer so they can see what is happening.
On occasions, an overnight stay is required depending on the workload or distance from home. This can also be interesting as if you are staying over then it sometimes allows time to explore a new or familiar place or area in your spare time after completing a day’s work.
What experience do you have?
Following my work experience, I began by completing a one-year course in Electrical Installation at Hereford Tech College. This gave me a good practical foundation and knowledge on electrics. I then started out in 2016 as an apprentice, going onto trainee whilst completing my HNC and NVQ in Electronics/ Electrical Engineering as part of my four year apprenticeship scheme, which I finished in 2020 with a Distinction overall.
In terms of development, I have been going out and attending site on my own since 2018, starting out with basic deliveries and assessments, going onto servicing, and now predominantly focused on doing call outs and repairs out in the field.
Whilst at Probo Medical, I have had lots of experience and training across all make and models of ultrasound systems both in house and out in the field. Training courses have also been provided on more specific areas.
Are there any parts of your role you find challenging?
Keeping up with the rate of constant new and evolving technology can come as a challenge, as the healthcare world is always adapting and improving. This is a positive thing however, as I learn more about new medical equipment, but can pose as a challenge if not kept up with.
As we cover almost every make and model of systems it can be a challenge to remember all the difference of each system. I have developed my own ways of overcoming this however, i.e., making useful notes ready for the next time! However, because I am constantly working on different systems, it soon becomes second nature and common knowledge.
What call outs do you enjoy the most and which are more tricky?
Enjoy – Anything that’s new or requires me to use intuition, i.e., meeting new people, gaining more knowledge on new things, doing diverse repairs, and working on rare equipment. Also, resolving any type of long-standing issues is something I thoroughly enjoy.
More tricky - A type of call out I also enjoy, but is tricky are investigative call outs. This is when you must get to the source of the issue, or multiple issues causing a fault. This is usually, a major fault and where the customer is unable to operate the system due to the severity of the fault at hand. Therefore, it can take a lot of procedures and steps or even multiple visits to find the route of the problem.
What sort of person is suited to this kind of job role?
I believe you need to have great organizational skills and self-discipline. I think if you are keen to learn and have curiosity for the career it is a huge advantage. Good communication skills, a logical thinker and a practical approve are also key. I would also say staying calm in stressful situations is also paramount1
Growth of employees is central to Probo Medical and the company ethos. Josh is a great example of the career and development path a service engineer can have.