EKG Technician Training
A technician is a valued member of a medical team who is responsible for performing tasks that do not require the specialized skills of the nurse or physician. The most common medical procedure that an EKG technician administers is an electrocardiogram. This is a noninvasive test that allows medical personnel to create a visual representation of the electrical activity of the heart so that they can evaluate cardiac conduction and contraction. The EKG is often the first test offered and is an important part of the initial diagnosis and treatment plan.
Although the electrocardiogram is the primary responsibility of a technician in the cardiac care department, those working in the profession are expected to become competent enough to perform other important tasks. The technician job description often includes monitoring the patient’s heart rate, assisting with invasive medical procedures, preparing patients for surgery, performing stress tests, and imaging the heart using tools such as an ultrasound. Although a formal college degree is not generally required in order to find employment as a technician, in-house EKG technician training programs often address the responsibilities of the position in great detail.
EKG Technician Training and Certification Requirements
In most states, individuals who work as a technician in a cardiac care unit are classified as an unlicensed assistive person who is not required to be licensed in order to provide direct patient care. Because there are little to no state and federal regulations that establish government requirements for technicians, healthcare facilities are given a great deal of freedom to design and administer their own EKG technician training programs. Although it may be possible for aspiring technicians to find employment without a college degree or prior experience, recent changes in the medical system have resulted in more stringent accountability measures that have led many employers to offer preference in hiring to applicants who have worked with patients and who have credentials that demonstrate competency.
Individuals who are having trouble finding employment as an EKG technician due to a lack of patient care experience or a college degree may want to consider strengthening their resume by completing an Associates Degree in an allied health profession or a certification program that is specific to the cardiac care specialty. Alternatively, people may find that they are able to enter the profession by working as a nurse aide or medical assistant for a few years before applying to an open position in the cardiovascular department. These types of opportunities are an excellent way to advance one’s career in an unlicensed medical profession because they have less stringent entry requirements and they expose individuals to a wide variety of medical settings that allow new technicians to master the basics of patient care before transitioning to a specialized area of practice.
EKG Technician Training Topics
Whether an individual has been accepted into an in-house training program or has chosen to enroll in a program that is administered by an independent educational organization, the new technician will be expected to learn several of the same cardiovascular care principles prior to providing patient care. Important concepts that the technician will need to master include things like…
- Anatomy and physiology of the heart
- Disease processes of the heart
- Medical ethics
- Administration of electrocardiography
- Administration of echocardiography
- Machine operation and maintenance
- Proper lead placement
- Medical terminology
- Patient care and safety
- Cardiac conduction
- Heart cycles
- Analysis of rhythms
- Wave and interval measurements
- And much more
All respectable EKG technician training programs are designed to prepare individuals for the responsibilities of the profession and prepare them to perform well on any national certification exam.
Demonstrating Competence Through Certification
Standards for provider competence have been increasing over the past several years as the medical system has undergone many regulatory changes. While many improvements in the provision of patient care are targeted at licensed personnel, there are a number of important practice standards that apply to unlicensed personnel who are employed in the cardiac care department. In general, technicians are required to work under the direct supervision of a registered nurse who has retained accountability for the decision to delegate tasks to unlicensed members of the medical team. One of the most important guidelines for assigning tasks to a technician is the requirement to verify the competence of an individual before allowing them to provide patient care. The EKG technician training programs that are administered in most medical establishments are designed to ensure that employees are competent to provide care and are able to demonstrate competency by successfully passing a national certification exam.
There are several EKG technician certification exams administered by national organizations that have been designed to verify competence. Since there are many EKG technician training programs that claim to prepare individuals for a successful career in cardiac care, it is always a good idea to make sure a program has been approved before enrolling in classes. In many cases, a medical establishment may have their own unique requirements that are not fulfilled by completing a specific independent training program or certification exam.