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EKG Technician Job Description
What does an EKG technician do? EKG technicians are trained to perform electrocardiograms or EKGs on patients. An EKG is a test that monitors the heart's activity and detects certain heart conditions. The technician will apply leads to a patient's body and then perform the non-invasive test. EKG technicians can also perform stress tests where a patient walks on a treadmill and the heart's activity is recorded.
EKG technicians are generally employed in hospitals, but others find employment in physicians' offices and facilities that perform diagnostic testing alongside doctors, nurses, and other diagnostic technicians. The majority of EKG technicians work full time in the occupation. If employed by a hospital, EKG technicians can expect to work shifts in the evening, over night, weekends, and on holidays. Those techs who work for physicians and diagnostic facilities will most likely have a schedule that is within normal business hours. There is always a possibility of evening and weekend shifts based on the hours of the office. Some EKG technicians will have on call shifts and could be contacted to come and perform an EKG in an emergency situation.
Those wanting to enter the field as EKG technicians should have certain characteristics. Since the job is in the medical field, an interest in science is helpful. Good communication skills are essential in the field as EKG technicians will be dealing with patients all day. Additionally, EKGs are often performed on patients who are nervous, so it is imperative that EKG technicians have a caring and compassionate nature and be able to calm the patient down when necessary. EKG technicians should also be in good physical shape since they will be spending much of their work day on their feet.
EKG Technician Duties
On a daily basis, an EKG technician might perform the following duties:
- Explain the procedure to patients
- Perform the EKG
- Provide the information from the test to the doctor for evaluation
How To Become An EKG Technician
Although some states do not require that EKG technicians have a diploma or degree in the subject, many schools offer programs in EKG technician training. The other option for those wanting to enter the field is to learn on the job, working with a trained professional. Certification is not required, but it is recommended to increase employment opportunities.
How Long Does It Take To Become An EKG Technician?
EKG technician program durations vary by school. Some programs are certificate programs and can be completed in less than a year. However, if a student enters an associate degree program, that will typically take about 2 years to complete.
Individuals wanting to embark on a career as an EKG technician must have a high school diploma or equivalency. There are many vocational and technical schools and community or state colleges that have programs to become an EKG technician. The certificate programs usually consist of course work in subjects such as medical terminology, anatomy of the heart, and EKG interpretation. Some programs also contain a clinical component so that students can gain valuable hands on experience working with patients and performing EKGs in a supervised environment. Certificate programs can take less than a year to complete.
Associate's degree programs in cardiovascular technology typically take about 2 years to finish. In addition to classes in the subject, those students in degree programs will also need to take general education classes to complete the requirements for the degree.
EKG technicians do not need to be certified, but becoming certified can greatly increase job opportunities and salary. Many employers will only hire EKG technicians who are certified. In addition, some insurance companies will no longer cover a procedure if the technician is not certified. In order to become certified, one must complete an EKG technician program, and then pass an exam given by one of several different organizations. The certification exam is timed and consists of multiple choice questions.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there will be a 30 percent increase in employment for cardiovascular technologists and technicians which also includes EKG technicians. This is much faster than other occupations. This rapid rate of growth will take place between 2012 and 2002.
Various factors will affect the expansion in the industry. More jobs will be added in physicians' offices and in diagnostic facilities since there will be an emphasis on outpatient care in the years to come. The aginig portion of the population will also use more diagnostic tests such as EKGs to diagnose health issues. Furthermore, heath care legislation has allowed many people in the United States access to medical care who did not previously have health insurance. This will bring more patients in for diagnostic testing and will increase the need for workers in the occupation. Detailed EKG technician salary data is available here.
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