EKG Technician Job Description

Healthcare is one of the largest job sectors in the US because of the demand created by the expanding population, the aging Baby Boomer generation, and poor dietary behaviors. Some of the most common causes of morbidity and mortality are related to diseases like that of obesity, diabetes, and a high blood pressure. These conditions cause damage to the body’s organs and must be managed well in order to improve health outcomes for patients. Tasks included in the standard EKG technician job description are critical to patient care.

Facts About Heart Disease in the US

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 25% of all deaths in the US each year are attributable to heart disease. Over half of the deaths that occur as a result of heart disease are caused by the occlusion of the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to the cardiac cells. Around 720,000 people experience a heart attack each year. Of these, approximately 25% have previously suffered a heart attack. It is estimated that this condition costs the economy a little over $100 Billion annually in medical services, medications, and lost productivity. Needless to say, heart disease is a huge problem in the US and demand for cardiovascular care has become one of the most important services provided by the medical industry.

What is an Electrocardiogram (EKG) Technician?

The provision of care in the cardiac unit is dependent on the combined efforts of many different types of medical professionals. A cardiologist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of heart disease. The physician is required to complete many years of college education and postgraduate training in order to prepare for the tremendous responsibility that comes with providing advanced evaluation and treatment of heart disease patients. In most facilities, the cardiologist is the highest level provider and is responsible for directing the efforts of nurses and other ancillary providers. A nurse is someone who has also completed many years of college and who works directly under the physician. Nurses are the ones who receive orders from physicians and who are responsible for determining which tasks can be assigned to unlicensed members of the team. An EKG technician is an unlicensed provider who is supervised by a registered nurse and who is qualified to perform many of the routine tasks associated with managing patients who suffer from heart disease.

Technical Aspects of the EKG Technician Job Description

Although individuals who work as technicians in the cardiovascular department are unlicensed in most states, the services that they provide are critically important in supporting the activities of advanced personnel and helping to promote safe and effective care. Common tasks included in the EKG technician job description are often those that are considered routine and that do not require the expert knowledge or skill of a registered nurse or licensed physician. The policies and procedures for determining which activities can be assigned to technicians are typically designed to protect the health and safety of patients through the verification of technician competence as well as the proper determination of the required level of supervision.

Electrocardiogram administration is the most common task performed by a technician. It is a noninvasive procedure that creates a visual representation of the electrical activity in the heart throughout the cardiac contractile cycle. It is performed by attaching electrodes to the patient’s chest, arms, and legs. The exam can be conducted in different environments while the patient is resting or active. The fact that the procedure is noninvasive means that it poses little risk of harm to a patient and can be carried out by an unlicensed provider.

While the electrocardiogram is the most common task included in the EKG technician job description, there are a number of additional activities that individuals in this profession are often expected to perform. These may include things like…

  • Collecting patient histories
  • Recording vital signs
  • Preparing patients for invasive procedures
  • Operating and maintaining equipment
  • Analyzing test results for quality
  • Evaluating normal and abnormal results
  • Documenting findings
  • Accessing electronic medical records
  • Performing stress tests
  • Assisting in the telemetry unit
  • Conducting Holter monitoring
  • Training new technicians
  • Explaining procedures to patients
  • Ensuring patient comfort and safety
  • Delivering public awareness presentations

Interpersonal Aspects of the EKG Technician Job Description

The technical components of becoming a successful electrocardiogram technician are generally acquired through the completion of professional training and certification. This process usually takes a few months and is sometimes offered through the employer. Although the tasks outlined above are a critical component of the EKG technician job description, no amount of training or credentialing can replace character qualities that are not suited to a long-term career in a fast-paced and sometimes stressful patient care environment. For this reason, it is very important for individuals who are considering this career path to honestly evaluate their ability to work well with the other members of the medical team and to provide compassionate care to patients.

Those who are most successful in this field are able to…

  • Engage in active listening
  • Take time to understand people
  • Ask appropriate questions
  • Receive constructive criticism
  • Use logic and reason to identify strengths and weaknesses
  • Communicate effectively with others
  • Observe and understand the reactions of coworkers and patients
  • Manage time efficiently
  • Provide genuine support
  • Express empathy towards others
  • Make informed decisions
  • Participate in quality improvement initiatives

A career in healthcare is rewarding for those who have the technical and interpersonal skills required to provide high levels of care. There are few careers that offer as much opportunity to work next to highly professional individuals who have a genuine desire to make a positive impact on the lives of patients who suffer from the devastating effects of heart disease. Those who have looked over the EKG technician job description and have an understanding of what is expected tend to last longer and experience much higher levels of career satisfaction.