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Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians

 

 

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Electrocardiograph (EKG or ECG) Technicians operate equipment that measures and records heart action by graphically tracing electrical activity occurring during the heart beats. 

Physicians use graphs (electrocardiograms - "electro" means electricity - "cardio" means of the heart - "gram" means to record - an ECG detects electrical impulses in the heart and records them on a long piece of graph paper) produced by the electro-cardiograph in diagnosing heart ailments, monitoring patients' heart functions, and recording patients' progress. 


JOB DUTIES    

Electrocardiograph Technicians may: 

Obtain information from the patient for EKG records, including patient identification, a brief  history, and medication used 

Escort patients to treatment room or wheel equipment to patients' bedsides 

Explain test procedures and give instructions to patients 

Attach electrodes to specified body areas using proper draping and bed screens for patient's  privacy and comfort 

Connect electrodes to leads from the EKG machine with small clamp or screw attachments 

Turn the selector switch to record pulse from electrodes 

Move the chest electrode along specific chest areas 

Press a button which marks tracing paper to indicate electrode positions 

Identify abnormal heart rhythms 

Direct patient to perform physical exercise as specified by a physician 

Enter the patient's data into a computer for analysis of the tracing (if the Technician uses newer  EKG equipment) 

Recognize emergencies and assist physicians 

Send EKG to physician for interpretation 

Paste and label tracings on mounting cards 

Replace paper in machine and report malfunctions   

Clean and maintain equipment and supplies

Click here to view a video on Electrocardiograph (EKG) Technicians

The tools, equipment, and materials used may include:

* Disinfectants 

* Cardiac pacemaker generators & accessories 

*Electrolytic paste 

* Graph recording paper 

* Mount cards 

* Small hand tools 

* Scissors 

* Calculators 

* Electrodes 

* Vascular catheters (diagnostic or interventional) 

* Calipers 

* Cardiac ultrasound equipment or Doppler or echo units or cardioscopes 

Cardiovascular implants 

Medical picture archiving computer systems PACS 

* Implantable defibrillators and/or accessories 


OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTIES 

078.362-018 ELECTROCARDIOGRAPH (EKG or ECG) Technicians operate equipment which measures and records heart action by graphically tracing electrical activity occurring during the heart beats. Physicians use graphs (electrocardiograms) produced by the electro-cardiograph in diagnosing heart ailments, monitoring patients' heart functions, and recording patients' progress. 

Depending on their training and experience, EKG Technicians may operate one type or different  types of cardiodiagnostic equipment and may be designated accordingly: 

Echocardiograph Technicians use ultrasound diagnostic equipment to produce 2-dimensional, ultrasonic patterns and positive pictures of the heart chambers and valves, for detection of problems such as defects with which the patient was born. These Technicians must have additional education and training. 

Holter Monitoring Technicians check special electrocardiograms, from cassettes attached to patients for 12- to 24-hour periods, to record irregular heart action. Phonocardiograph Technicians operate equipment designed to record heart murmurs and other abnormal sounds. Stress Testing Technicians use cardiodiagnostic equipment to record heart activity during physical exercise. 

Vectorcardiograph Technicians monitor special, 3-dimensional tracings of the heart's electrical activity. 

In addition to learning about these specialties, you may also find it helpful to explore the following Career Exploration scripts: 

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WORKING CONDITIONS AND REQUIREMENTS 

EKG Technicians may work without close supervision or under the direction of a cardiologist (Heart Specialist) and may supervise the training of other less experienced, EKG Technicians. Frequently, work is done somewhat independently in patient care areas. Conscientious and accurate work is required. They work in clean, comfortable, well lighted offices or health care facilities. They work in settings which involve other medical personnel, such as hospital laboratories, clinics, or doctors' offices. Since EKG equipment is portable, they may work at a patient's bedside if the individual's condition warrants it. 

Technicians generally work a 40-hour week which may include Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, and nights. They may be required to work shifts as more hospitals are operating on a 24-hour basis. They may be required to wear uniforms, which some employers provide. 

EKG Technicians may join organizations such as the  Alliance of Cardiovascular Professionals  or  Cardiovascular Credentialing International  . These Associations offers programs of professional continuing education which helps members to update their skills, as well as earn professional registration. Association members must pay annual dues. 

You Should Prefer: 

  • Working with people 
  • Working with equipment 

You Should Be Able To: 

  • Use logical step-by-step procedures in your work 
  • Work with precision and make careful, accurate notations 
  • Explain test procedures to patients 
  • Notice variations when comparing recorded and normal patterns 
  • Work well with others 
  • Handle confidential medical information appropriately 

Math Problem You Should Be Able to Solve: 

If a certain patient's heart beats 16 times every 15 seconds, what is their heart rate after a minute? 

Reading Example You Should Be Able to Read and Comprehend: 

Angina is temporary pain or tightness that starts in the chest and sometimes radiates to other parts of the upper body. 

Writing Example You Should Be Able to Produce: 

You should be able to write reports to others explaining the results from your tests. 

Thinking Skill You Should Be Able to Demonstrate: 

You should be able to decide the best way to hook up a given patient to the EKG if they have special needs. 

The minimum education requirement for EKG Technicians is high school graduation or its equivalent. On-the-job-training of 3 to 6 months supervised by an experienced Technician or cardiologist is usually required also. However, many employers require completion of a formal training in cardiovascular technology instead.  

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EDUCATION AND PREPARATION OPPORTUNITIES 

NOTE: On-The-Job Training provided by the employer or a High School Diploma or Equivalent or a High School Diploma with specific Vocational Education Classes a Certificate (program of up to one years of study beyond high school) or an Associate Degree (two years of study beyond high school) may qualify a person for this occupation. 

The following education and preparation opportunities are helpful in preparing for occupations in the Career Exploration script: 

***SCHOOL SUBJECTS*** 

0700 CAREERS , 0900 COMMUNICATIONS , 1000 COMPUTERS , 1800 HEALTH & HEALTH CAREERS, 2200 MATH, 2900 SCIENCE , 3300 TECHNOLOGY 

***VOCATIONAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS*** 

There are no Vocational Education Programs related to this Career Exploration script. 

Students should obtain the local  Education & Training Opportunities  for information on what happens to students who successfully complete a program. This information is available at each high school or career/technical center.   

***POSTSECONDARY PROGRAMS*** 

054 ELECTRODIAGNOSTIC TECHNOLOGY 

Programs in Electrodiagnostic Technology provide opportunities to gain the knowledge and skills needed to use diagnostic equipment such as electro-cardiograph and ultrasound scanning machines. 

Courses vary with the type of equipment but may include: 

The Circulatory System 

Medical Terminology 

Cardiac Anatomy & Physiology 

Clinical Experience 

Neuroanatomy & Neurophysiology 

Registry Seminar 

Pathological Imaging 

Machine Operations 

Diagnostic Sonography 

Medical Law & Ethics 

Search for a College and/or Instructional Program 

***APPRENTICESHIP OPPORTUNITIES*** 

There are no Apprenticeships related to this Career Exploration script. 

***MILITARY TRAINING PROGRAMS*** 

Please check the Military web site at  http://www.todaysmilitary.com  . 

CARDIOPULMONARY AND EEG TECHNICIANS 

Military health care includes medical treatment for heart, lung, and brain disorders. Doctors need sophisticated tests to help diagnose and treat these problems. Cardiopulmonary and EEG (electroencephalograph) technicians administer a variety of diagnostic tests of the heart, lungs, blood, and brain. They operate complex electronic testing equipment. 

What They Do 

Cardiopulmonary and EEG technicians in the military perform some or all of the following duties: 

  • Take patients' blood pressure readings 
  • Attach electrodes or microphones to patients' bodies 
  • Help doctors revive heart attack victims 
  • Adjust settings and operate test equipment 
  • Watch dials, graphs, and screens during tests 
  • Talk to physicians to learn what tests or treatments are needed 
  • Keep records of test results and discuss them with medical staff 
  • Operate electrocardiographs, electroencephalographs, and other test equipment 

Helpful Attributes 

Helpful school subjects include algebra, chemistry, biology, or related courses. Helpful attributes  include: 

  • Interest in electronic equipment 
  • Ability to follow strict standards and procedures 
  • Interest in learning how the heart, lungs, and blood work together 
  • Ability to keep accurate records 

Work Environment 

Cardiopulmonary and EEG technicians usually work in hospitals and clinics. In combat situations, they may work in mobile field hospitals. 

Physical Demands 

Normal color vision is required for some specialties in order to set up and monitor equipment 

Training Provided 

Job training consists of 26 to 30 weeks of classroom instruction. Course content typically includes: 

  • Diagnostic procedures 
  • Operation and maintenance of diagnostic equipment 
  • Preparation of patients for testing 
  • Methods of resuscitation 

Further training occurs on the job and through advanced courses. 

Civilian Counterparts 

Civilian cardiopulmonary and EEG technicians work in hospitals, clinics, and doctors' offices. Their duties are similar to those performed in the military. They may specialize in cardiovascular (heart), pulmonary (lungs), or electroencephalographic (brain) testing. 

Opportunities 

The services need cardiopulmonary and EEG technicians each year due to personnel changes and field demands. After job training, new technicians are assigned to hospitals and clinics, where they work under the supervision of physicians and senior technicians. With experience, they may supervise others and assist in managing clinics. 

E-Learning Courses and Programs 

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OPPORTUNITIES FOR EXPERIENCE AND METHODS OF ENTRY 

Volunteer or paid work in any area of health care will indicate whether you would like this occupation. Hospitals and some manufacturers of electrocardiographs offer training. Post secondary programs in electrocardiographs technology provide opportunities for training and clinical experience. Military service offers training in this occupation also. 

School-to-Work opportunities include: 

Informal apprenticeships 

Mentorships 

Job shadowing experiences 

Touring a local Electrocardiograph Technician employer 

Internships 

Volunteer work with a Electrocardiograph Technician employer 

Community service work with an agency 

Direct application to hospitals and physicians is the most common way of entering this occupation. School placement offices, local offices of  Michigan Works!    and newspaper want ads may be helpful. In addition, you should access and search the Internet's on-line employment services sites such as: 

Healthcaresource.com 

Michigan Jobs & Career Portal 

Michigan Talent Bank 

simplyhired.com 

Indeed | one search. all jobs. 

Jobster 

MONSTER.COM 

CareerBuilder 

USAJOBS - United States Office of Personnel Management 

NationJob.com   

TrueCareers 

Medzilla.com - Doctors & Nurses 

RXCareerCenter.com 

You should also enter an electronic resume on these on-line services. 

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EARNINGS AND ADVANCEMENT 

Earnings of EKG Technicians vary according to their training, experience, and the type, size, and location of their place of employment. 

Electrocardiograph Technicians employed by the federal government earned from $30,424to $67,043per year in2010. The salaries of these federal government workers may be higher in some urban areas.  

Nationally, the annual salaries (early 2010) of EKG Technicians who were employed by hospitals and related institutions were between $25,200and $33,900, with the average of $29,500. 

In Michigan, EKG Technicians employed in hospitals and related institutions averaged $30,680 (late2010), with most earnings between $25,397and$35,235. 

Most EKG Technicians receive paid vacations and holidays; life, accident, disability, and hospitalization insurance; retirement plans; and sick pay. These benefits are usually paid for, at least in part, by the employer. Some institutions also provide tuition assistance. Those employed in hospitals may also receive dental and optical insurance benefits.   

Opportunities for advancement are somewhat limited. Experienced EKG Technicians may advance to senior Technicians and train less experienced Technicians. With additional training and experience, some may advance to supervisory positions and assist physicians with more complex and specialized procedures.                               

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EMPLOYMENT AND OUTLOOK 

Nationally, in2008, there were approximately 49,500cardiovascular technologists and technicians (which include EKG Technicians) employed. Most employment will occur in cardiology departments of hospitals, although an increasing number will be in outpatient medical facilities. The industry distribution for cardiovascular technologists/technicians looked like this: 

NAICS Code 

NAICS Industry Title 

% Employed 2008 

622000 

Hospitals, public and private 

76.5 

621100-300 

Offices of health practitioners 

15.4 

621400,500,900 

Outpatient, laboratory, and other ambulatory care services 

4.4 

--- 

Others 

3.7 

To find employers, click  Employer/Business Locator. 

Employment of EKG Technicians is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through the year2018. The use of the EKG as a standard test in the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease will continue, but advances in new EKG equipment and computerization of hospital departments has increased the productivity of EKG Technicians. 

These new developments in cardiology have raised skill levels and created new occupations in the field. EKG Technicians perform relatively simple tasks and do not have the background to assist in more sophisticated procedures unless they complete additional training. Although cardiology occupations are anticipated to grow, demand for EKG Technicians is not likely to keep pace with the number of cardiac tests and procedures performed, nor will job growth be as rapid as in the more highly skilled cardiology technology occupations. 

There are about 2,425 cardiovascular technologists and technicians (which include EKG Technicians) employed in Michigan. Most were employed in urban areas. Technicians who work in medium-sized or large hospitals (400 beds or more) usually work full time in the cardiology department. Those who work in small hospitals may work part time as EKG Technicians and part time as EEG technicians, respiratory therapists, or other health care technicians. Others work in health maintenance organizations, clinics, or doctors' offices. 

Employment is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through the year2018. An average 90 annual openings is expected, with 55 due to growth and 35 to replacement of those who retire, die, or leave the labor force for other reasons. 

Opportunities are best for Technicians who can operate several types of cardiodiagnostic equipment. Although diseases of the heart are the leading cause of death in Michigan and the United States, recent health-care cost containment regulations may have a negative impact on employment. 

 

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SOURCES OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION   

American Hospital Association   
155 N. Wacker
Chicago, IL 60606-3421
(312) 422-3000
 

Alliance of Cardiovascular Professionals   
P.O. Box 2007
Midlothian, VA 23112
(804) 632-0078
 

Cardiovascular Credentialing International   
1500 Sunday Drive
Suite 102
Raleigh, NC 27607
(800) 326-0268
 

Michigan Jobs & Career Portal 

  

School/College Placement Offices 

Hospitals, Clinics and Physicians' Offices 

 

 

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