Department Spotlight: Clinical Engineering

By: Alana Ridge

October 12, 2022

Clinical Engineers posing for a group photo in front of a new piece of pediatric medical technology.

Renown Health strongly supports and advocates for innovative medical technology. Our diverse lineup of medical equipment enables our care leaders to provide quality care to every patient. But what if a piece of technology breaks down? What happens when our care teams are ready for technological upgrades? Where do employees go when they have a question about a complicated piece of equipment? 

Enter the Clinical Engineering department. This sophisticated team is staffed with intelligent, science-minded individuals who are ready to jump in and help at any given second. From newborn incubators to robots that clean the hospital floors, these team members are the med-tech masters that keep our health system running. 

Equipment Experts 

Upon entering the Clinical Engineering department’s workshop, you are welcomed with an abundance of high-tech equipment undergoing repairs and upgrades. The department takes care of more than 26,000 pieces of equipment throughout the entire healthcare network, including the technologies at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, which they just took over this past year. To the average person, this may seem overwhelming; however, for this team, this is the exact environment they thrive in to make the technology magic happen. 

“I am motivated and engaged every day at work,” said Tony Martinez, Supervisor of Clinical Engineering for Renown. “Our department is fast-paced and rewarding, and that’s a big plus.” 

While some team members enter the department as equipment generalists, this team offers training to develop their skills on certain pieces of equipment, eventually becoming specialists.  

“Every month, we encourage our colleagues to undergo specific training on more delicate equipment,” said Tony. “Once we get to that point in their training, we assign different equipment to our team members every month. They pick up the experience very quickly.” 

As a Clinical Engineering Technician for Renown, Rylie Nickerson took advantage of the training and educational opportunities offered to her and is now a ventilator specialist especially for Renown’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). “Regardless of whether I’m working on ventilators or on another piece of equipment I’m assigned to, I’m always thinking about how I can help the patients, nurses and doctors,” said Rylie. 

Raul Hernandez, a Clinical Engineering Specialist for Renown, is the go-to person for anesthesia, heart-lung bypass, red cell saver and life support equipment. He embraces the fact that, regardless of whether you are a specialist or a generalist, there is no typical day working in this department. “Every day brings different challenges,” said Raul. “I really enjoy the mental exercises I do every day. They keep me grounded and focused.” 

On top of their day-to-day work and any special projects or emergencies that come up, the team is on an ongoing preventative maintenance schedule. Think of this work like your car’s oil change – routine maintenance to prevent something from breaking down in the future. “At any point, we might have 100-200 extra pieces of equipment to handle during preventative maintenance,” said Taylor Gray, a Clinical Engineering Technician for Renown. “We are always helping each other through any issues.” 

Our Clinical Engineering team shows exactly what it means to be collaborative. Even though their to-do lists are ever-growing, this team never feels alone. They know they can always lean on each other for support, regardless of the workload. 

“We always have each other’s backs,” said Taylor. “I feel so happy and satisfied in my job, and my coworkers are a large part of that.” 

Celebrating the Genuine Difference 

The Clinical Engineering department is driven by their desire to help and take care of the entire health system, and in turn, make a genuine difference for the communities we serve, from the medical staff to the patients.  

“The satisfaction you get in our field when we impact patients’ lives and their healing process is so motivating and engaging,” said Tony Martinez. “It’s a great feeling.” 

The team knows the common saying ‘Walk a mile in someone’s shoes’ very well; so well, in fact, that they take it to the next level, doing everything they can to prevent frustrations and extended down times. “We try to walk a mile in someone’s shoes before they get angry,” said Reagan Jordan, Director of Clinical Engineering for Renown. “Your satisfaction is our mission, and our team continually works to improve their outcomes every day.” 

This department is where the entrepreneurial spirit and science-focused mind meet. For people like Raul Hernandez, who came from a business background as well as decades of medical technology experience, Renown helps him bring both his personal and business skills into focus. “This environment is very beneficial for Renown, me, and of course, the patients,” added Raul. 

Being members of a team that is committed to excellence and purpose inspires them to reach new heights in patient care. 

“I am constantly reminded of the positive impact we have by witnessing the individual experiences we have and hearing the enthusiasm and thankfulness in their voices,” said Raul. “It gives me a great sense of pride to work at Renown.” 

"There is a strong feeling of mutual respect here,” added Ed Trejo, a Clinical Engineering Technician at Renown. “We are always here to help.” 

The proof is in the data. The Clinical Engineering team scored as one of the top departments in the recent Renown employee engagement survey, with their results sitting at more than 94 percent.  

“This speaks to not only our department leadership but also the team as a whole,” said Reagan. “I am extremely proud of them. Despite the pandemic, they are knocking it out of the park.” 

For this department, coming to Renown is easy; staying at Renown is even easier. 

“Staying at Renown is the easy choice,” said Raul. “And this team is only going to grow.” 

Workflow Whizzes and Kindness Champions 

“Rolling with the punches,” as Tony Martinez says, comes naturally to the Clinical Engineering team. With the constant workflow of equipment coming into the shop, every team member has learned how to be experts at prioritizing, especially based on the needs of our organization. 

Even though their jobs can bring a lot of intensity, this department’s positive attitude radiates throughout the hospital. Upon entering the workshop, everyone is greeted with a smile from every team member, along with an immediate willingness to dive into the complex world of engineering. 

“The experience of helping other people with their unique needs is invaluable,” said Taylor Gray. 

If this work environment sounds enticing, great news – the Clinical Engineering team is growing. Motivated, aspiring engineers with a passion for healthcare and an associate’s degree in a related field are welcome.  

Military experience is also valued very highly in this team. As many of our military servicemen and servicewomen gain specialized engineering experience while enlisted, the military-to-engineer career ladder at Renown is especially strong. In fact, according to Paul Joseph, a Clinical Engineering Technician at Renown, the majority of their teammates come from a military background.  

Above all, being capable of prioritizing on the fly, thinking critically, having an open-mined outlook and being self-driven are the top skills that this department values. As Ed Trejo states, “If you’re willing to wear different hats, you will do very well here." 

“Go with the flow, and expect the unexpected,” added Rylie Nickerson. 

Those who join this team feel at home. The warm embrace of the team’s kind nature and the supportive environment they all foster inspires an efficient workflow that helps our entire hospital system function at the top of its game. At the end of the day, everyone who joins the team, or anyone who even interacts with the team in any capacity, will be in good hands. 

Mandy Noriega, a Clinical Engineering Technician for Renown, closes these thoughts with a great reminder to each and every one of us: “After all, teamwork makes the dream work.”  
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