When Patrick Bonds started working at Lexington Medical Center a decade ago after leaving the Marines, he was looking for a solid healthcare career that fit with his mechanical mindset.
“When I started at Lexington Medical Center ten years ago, I knew I wanted to stay in healthcare, and I knew I also wanted to stay [with] engineering,” he recalls. “I just didn’t know how to advance.”
Bonds had his military background, an associate’s degree and a natural affinity for working with healthcare facilities, but the natural path forward wasn’t entirely clear. He continued working at LMC while pursuing his bachelor’s and was made a supervisor after he graduated but felt hungry for the skills and educational background that would allow him to really take a leadership role in managing a facility.
“I have to thank Paul Wise [the Assistant Director of Engineering at LMC], who urged me to go back to school for a healthcare facilities leadership associates [degree],” says Bonds. “because I didn’t want to go back for an associate’s, I wanted to go back for my masters.”
The program Bonds enrolled in remotely was forged at Owensboro Community & Technical College by Mike Canales, who recognized the need for the kind of training the young veteran was looking for.
“You might think you want to go into management or leadership of healthcare facilities, but not all good mechanics are going to make good leaders in this field,” he points out.
In his work at Owensboro, Canales has created several different programs that can be layered upon one another to build out the different kinds of competencies, skills and core knowledge bases that are essential to staffing out engineering and facility posts in healthcare. In a decentralized field that needs this kind of competency-based education, the professor and program coordinator believes these kinds of web-based courses that build on the fundamental pillars of health facilities engineering (medical gas, life safety, ventilation, and electrical systems and generators) can provide a valuable service to hospital systems around the country.
“You can recruit [technicians] from high school, the military, or vocational schools,” he contends. “You start them with an apprenticeship and get them certified [through our program].”
And for hardworking future healthcare facilities leaders like Bond, it’s just what the doctor ordered.