The state’s Association of Licensing Boards has not established EKG technician training and certification requirements in the state of West Virginia. While there are no regulations that address the technician, several establishments classify those who work as a technician in the cardiac care unit under the general assistant category. Individuals planning to pursue this path will likely work under the supervision of a nurse who will decide which activities can be delegated and whether or not the technician has the competence to perform those tasks.
The healthcare industry has become highly susceptible to liability associated with the negligence of medical personnel. In order to protect the health and safety of patients as well as the interests of the establishment, many facilities require unlicensed members of the patient care team to be supervised by registered nurses who are willing to assume all of the responsibility for the care that is provided. To safeguard the interests of nurses, department administrators develop the policies and procedures that determine how new technicians are trained and evaluated. In addition, the state has laws that provide guidelines that must be followed when delegating nursing tasks to unlicensed personnel.
According to the Scope and Delegation Booklet, the term ‘delegation’ refers to the act of transferring to a competent individual the authority to perform a selected nursing task in a selected situation. Unlicensed assistive personnel are defined as any unlicensed person, regardless of title, to whom nursing tasks are delegated or assigned. Registered nurses are responsible for clinical decision making, assuring that care is provided in a safe and competent manner, determination which nursing acts can be delegated or assigned, and providing the proper direction, assistance, and evaluation to the delegatee. When evaluating the appropriateness of delegation, the nurse must take into account the five rights of delegation which include the right task, right person, right communication, right supervision, and right circumstances.
West Virginia recognizes the need for competent and appropriately supervised unlicensed assistive personnel in the delivery of affordable and high quality healthcare. The Board of Nursing emphasizes that unlicensed personnel are to assist and not replace the nurse. Tasks assigned to unlicensed personnel is restricted to the performance of basic nursing care services such as taking vital signs, providing personal hygiene, comfort, nutrition, and ambulation. In the cardiac care unit, it is common for technicians to be tasked with electrocardiogram administration, Holter monitoring, telemetry, and a variety of administrative tasks. Responsibilities that require nursing judgment or skill and that have the potential to jeopardize patient safety and welfare can never be delegated to unlicensed personnel.
Education and Training Requirements
The path to becoming a EKG technician is fairly straightforward given that no license is required. Although it used to be common for individuals to enter the profession directly with little more than a high school diploma or GED, today’s environment of widespread litigation has caused many employers to begin offering preference to those who have an allied health degree and a few years of experience with direct patient care in a general area of practice. Most facilities also have developed their own training programs that are specialized to the profession and designed to prepare new technicians for the challenges they will face in the cardiovascular department. Many employers also now require new technicians to complete one of the nationally recognized EKG technician certification exams.
Those who are new to the medical field and who have no formal education or experience with patient care might want to consider an allied health certificate or a degree program. Alternatively, one might want to think about seeking employment as a medical assistant or nursing aide prior to making the transition to the cardiac department. These two entry level opportunities have fewer barriers to entry and provide an avenue for the acquisition of basic knowledge and skills needed to provide care in many different specialty areas.
State Contact Information
Phone: (304) 558-0684
Fax: (304) 558-1130
One Davis Square, Ste. 100 East Charleston, WV 25301
Phone: (304) 558-3596
Fax: (304) 558-3666
101 Dee Dr., Ste. 102 Charleston, WV 25311