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Joined: Jun 2004
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Dreamer
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Rick,
As you feel that this job is "fairly basic" i'm sure you will be happy on AFC Band 1.

Most of the time it is "repairng user abuse" and " following simple instructions to check performance" but what about when it all goes wrong It takes skilled, knowledgable and intelligent technicians to put it right.

A colleague attended a symposium recently and after a "robust" discussion with a representative from the IPEM about qualifications, he managed to extract (grudgingly) that some C&G, HNC/HND qualifications gained years ago are possibly superior to some of the degree's now being awarded.

If you are doing the job, remember that you must already have the skills, knowledge and experience to fulfil the stated requirements in your job description wether its BEng, Meng or PHd!

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I'm just left wondering what a "good" ONC is and why HNC/HND is regarded as "quite advanced". I think the idea of professional institutions accrediting qualifications, e.g. B.Eng, is valuable as an indicator of quality rather than who the provider is. C&GLI and EdExcel do the same thing for vocational qualifications although many feel that standards have dropped in ONC/HNC/HND compared to what they were years ago. So it's not just about the comparison between degrees and vocational qualifications really. It's also about the subjective "quality" of the individuals' that come out of the education system that tells you whether they've had a decent technical education or not and whether they can apply it. You can just tell whether someone knows their stuff and can apply it to their job.

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Mr. Ling I feel I must take exception to your comment “Everybody's got the opportunity to do a degree in something these days, it's nothing special. Hence HNC/HND is viewed by some as a basic level of education.”
I have had to fight tooth and nail to get my NC level 3 (you call ONC). It is now impossible to get NC or above any where in the Channel islands without day release to England for mature students, most employers here will not pay the huge costs involved to train mature students. If these HNC’s are low qualifications on the mainland it is only because they are readably available.
I feel all the qualifications only require people to turn up and absorb a little knowledge.
The real commitment is a mature student with a family whose employer is very happy with, getting up at 5.30 once a week, flying to Jersey / Eastliegh airport for 5 years missing half the first lesson, finishing before the end of the last lesson and flying home on the last flight in order to get home at half past nine at night. Just to get a HNC, not including delays, diversions and unplanned overnight stays.
Nine years for a degree.
Only to find a youngster still wet behind the ears banded above them half way through this. because a bit of paper says so.

I think day release students should get special recognition at least the old C & G showed practical experience. These vanished approximately 15 years ago in the Channel Islands perhaps the day release NC and HNC should take on the same recognition that the C & G gets.
Just sit back and imagine doing your degree again over the next nine years.

Also I would like to add Medical Techs or what ever they are called, tend to undertake more extensive duties in rural areas out of necessity. Where as hospitals in cities tend to only specialize in certain areas Critical care, orthopedic, coronary care, ETC.

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Leonius,

As I posted earlier I do believe that everybody's got the opportunity to do a degree in something - there's at least 3 electronics/technology degrees I can think of that have distance-learning options. Not bad considering that there's not really anything out there for Clinical Technologists at all, full-time, part-time or distance-learning.

I do think that HNC is viewed by some as a basic qualification and I don't necessarily agree with this, as I posted earlier. Although it's now the entry-level qualification for qualified technicians in the AfC job-profiles for example. Time doesn't and shouldn't stand still regarding minimum qualifcations, technical knowledge or skills - it appears to me that the job is changing so Technicians attitudes should too.

As for integrity, reliability and commitment to quality this does have very little to do with qualifications fullstop, in my opinion. That's an entirely different argument except that if you're prepared to put in the effort to gain qualifications without a requirement from your employer then this indicates that you're interested in the subject and committed to it. Not uncommon for technicians in this game in my experience.

Quote:
I think day release students should get special recognition at least the old C & G showed practical experience.
I think the opposite way - I want no special favours and I think that the part-time modules should be classified at an equivalent level as full-time modules, no better no worse. As they are for HNC/HND and ONC/OND. There are many stories of people paying their way through their own HNC/Degree/MSc and undertaking study under very difficult circumstances indeed.

Quote:
Just sit back and imagine doing your degree again over the next nine years.
Actually some higher qualifications, like many engineering degrees in this profession, are part-time and have been taken over 5 years part-time BEng (hons) or more recently 4 years for M.Eng (hons) since they're professionally accredited and have identical status and content to the full-time courses. P/T ONC, HNC, B.Eng(Hons), M.Sc actually takes 11 years if you go the hard slog you know.

No doubt continuing study has left many in a position where they've not achieved a grade commensurate with their service, experience and skills, perhaps. But something has to give and there's always a price to pay for being interested, dedicated, and committed, I suppose.

I take exception to two of your comments:

Quote:
Also I would like to add Medical Techs or what ever they are called, tend to undertake more extensive duties in rural areas out of necessity. Where as hospitals in cities tend to only specialize in certain areas Critical care, orthopedic, coronary care, ETC.
I think you're possibly misinformed or perhaps over-generalising.

Quote:
I feel all the qualifications only require people to turn up and absorb a little knowledge.
I guess when you actually complete an honours degree accredited by a professional institution and do it well then this might change your attitude. Personally I have never just "turned-up" and absorbed a little knowledge whether it was ONC or Post-Grad stuff.

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I did my degree over 10 years ago at a Polytechnic which also did HND's. In those days employers took a more sensible approach and considered Engineering HND's to be equivalent to Engineering Degrees. From a employer perspective I would rate HND's higher than Degrees due to its emphasis on practical element, Degrees are still very theoretical, the saying was the Lecturers notes became the students notes verbatum. Degree students often knew the knowledge without appreciating why.

What has changed in the last 10 years? Snobbery from the you must have a degree camp? With regards to AfC, the matching panel must be made aware that a HND/HNC is a very valuable qualification to have on par with a degree for other staff groups.

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I don't think that individuals must have a degree for the sake of it but it looks like it will be necessary to progress in the job to the highest-level unfortunately. What is required for Technicians is a uniform standard of minimum education supported by formal training - perahps then we wouldn't try to be justify going through a particular route or not and concentrating on paper qualifications.

I think there's an obvious difference between individuals who undertake a qualification just to pass it to get or keep a job and those that do it, irrespective, because they're interested in learning the ins-and-outs of it. Some just can't understand that. I think there's a lot of inverted snobbery out there concerning qualifications and in the end it doesn't really matter what's on paper as long as you can do the job satisfactarily.

Quote:
With regards to AfC, the matching panel must be made aware that a HND/HNC is a very valuable qualification to have on par with a degree for other staff groups.
I think it's a bit late considering that the latest profiles have HNC pitched at "entry-level" and HND plus courses, etc, pitched at the "Working-grade"

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I agree with your statement “there's at least 3 electronics/technology degrees I can think of that have distance-learning options. Not bad considering that there's not really anything out there for Clinical Technologists at all, full-time, part-time or distance-learning” in your opinion are all technical HNCs equal? I appreciate that all decisions have already been made about entry requirement, but do you not feel the qualification should be a standard one. Or at least a compiled list of acceptable ones. Not just “a HNC in something relevant”
Personally I feel that staff should have to prove adaptability \ aptitude periodically.
People change over the years and appraisals put individual hospitals or trusts, personal views on competence. Which I was under the impression, we were trying to avoid. Myself I would be quite happy to jump through the hoops to prove continual ability. Given my personal pride. I know that you are right once I have my Hons degree I will have a different outlook on this subject. That is why I am trying to be critical now. My objection to the system being adopted appears to be “keep the old boys happy or it will fail”, where as this may be true. If the system was truly equal and un biased surely people would notice the value more.
I have not read up on this but wasn’t one of the criticisms by the HPC something similar e.g. no standard qualification.
Perhaps AGC came at the wrong time and forced everyone’s hand, but being graded on original qualifications and un proven present competence appears odd especially as the premise is to ensure public confidence in us. I still feel that a distance learning qualification in a dedicated subject is the way forward and at the present I intend to put my money where my mouth is and do it at the first available opportunity whatever other qualifications I have. My only hope is that the course is relevant.

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Visionary
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Dear Colleagues,

The problem with AfC for all of us is that it is a universal system across the whole of the NHS which has meant that our earlier qualifications such as ONC, HNC & HND aren't recognised in the same way as a degree is. However, what AfC says is "degree equivalent" knowledge.Which means that if you have an earlier qualification plus experience you can still meet AfC requirements.
By the way, I was involved with the national committee in the union MSF (now Amicus) which agreed the national MTO profiles with the DoH. (Incidently, under AfC MTO's no-longer exist. Electronic technicians who used to be graded as MTO's are now called Medical Engineering Technicians).
It has always been my view, and still is, that if you work in Medical Equipment Management servicing Medical elecronic equipment any qualification that you've got just says that you have a basic understanding of what's going on in the system or circuit. When you've got lots of experience and providing you've got (and can read!) the circuit diagram you can normally sort the problem out. Therefore, I've always argued that our equivalent experience (post qualification) for us under AfC is often best served by attending manufacturer's training courses because this is documented.
(Unfortunately, AfC does not recognise experience as "time served" on the job, there has to be some proof of knowledge gained)
From my own personal experience of working over 40 years in the health service with only an ONC & HNC I've seen too many "know it all's" who come in fresh with a new "just got degree" who I wouldn't let service my electric toothbrush let alone a complex piece of medical electronic equipment (I be Geoff agrees with this!)
Ian Rez Eng Tech MIIE
(Medical Equipment Management Unit, The North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust)

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Hey Ian, welcome to the Club, Man (…burning the midnight oil too) - I hope this means that your PC is back up, as it were!

Nice post too, bravo, bravo! How is your electric toothbrush, by the way? Seem humming along nicely, I hope.

And Medical Engineering Technician sounds good to me! smile


If you don't inspect ... don't expect.
Joined: Jan 2005
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Hi Geoff,
Yep, PC working OK and still burning the after midnight oil.

Returning to AfC and qualifications to all those of you that think that you need a Phd in Medical Equipment Maintenance! Firstly, AfC is a package that includes CPD (Continuing Professional Delevelopment) Also, along side AfC is KSF (not KFC!!!). KSF(Knowledge Skills Framework) means that every individual working in the NHS will have a KSF "package" to improve their skills and qualifications thoughout their working life in the NHS. This means that your management MUST allow you access during working time to training to improve your knowledge. This is a continuous process. I suggest that if you don't know about the complete AfC package and KSF contact your union rep or your HR dept. By the way, the best advice you will get is through your union rep. AfC and KSF are "partnership" arrangements, eg ALL AfC job matching panels should have 2 union reps & 2 management reps on them to match your job to the national profiles. If your job hasn't been matched by a proper panel the matching is invalid!
Returning to do you need a Phd in Medical Equipment Management? Ours isn't a job that requires an enormous amount of theoretical knowledge. We need to know how systems and circuits work if we are to diagnose faults and get the equipment back working. We need to be able to read and understand complex circuit diagrams and service manuals. We need to know and recognise certain circuit "building blocks" e.g. switched mode power supplies, amplifying circuits, logic & switching circuits etc, etc. We don't need to do a four or five year Phd theses on semiconductor theory or some such esoteric research. You might want to do this if you want to get into design and development. By the way, even with just my old ONC & HNC I was designing, developing and building electronic equipment in my past life when I worked for the PHLS (part of the NHS) before working in equipment maintenance at NMUH. So you don't need a degree or a Phd in medical equipment maintenance What you do need is the ability to think logically and work methodically. so to those who advocate that we need higher and higher qualifications I'd be grateful if you would explain to me why. Of course, if individuals want to move on to other jobs where higher qualifications are a requirement, that's fine and they should be able to do this.
Finally, I think that my electric toothbrush was far to complex for the just-out-of university, I've got a degree and I know everything that there is to know about electronics person. I wouldn't even let them service my electric kettle!
Ian Rez Eng Tech MIIE

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