What is a cardiovascular technologist?

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Cardiovascular technologists work closely with doctors to assist with therapeutic interventions and perform diagnostic procedures. They help treat patients who have various types of cardiac and vascular problems, such as congenital heart defects, heart attacks and coronary artery disease.

There are different classifications of cardiovascular technologists based on the type of procedures they are involved in. For instance, some people work as noninvasive cardiovascular technologists, which involves performing tests, such as stress tests, EKG’s and Holter monitor tests. Invasive cardiovascular technologists assist the doctor during more complex tests and procedures, such as cardiac catheterizations and vascular ultrasounds.

Responsibilities of a Cardiovascular Technologist

The type of responsibilities a cardiovascular tech has depends on whether they perform invasive or noninvasive procedures. In some cases, technologists may be involved in both types of procedures. Examples of job duties include the following:

  • Prepping the patient for procedures
  • Preparing equipment for the procedure
  • Reviewing a patient’s medical record and history prior to the tests and interventions
  • Assist the doctor as needed during interventions
  • Monitor a patient’s vital signs, such as heart rate and oxygen level during procedures

Education and Training

While in high school, the best preparation for becoming a cardiovascular technologist is taking science classes, such as biology and anatomy. Classes in math and physics will also be helpful.

After earning a high school diploma, the next step is graduating from a cardiovascular technologist program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. There are both two and four-year programs available.

If you enrol in a cardiovascular technologist program, expect to take classes in anatomy, pharmacology and math. Classes related to the cardiovascular system are also part of the curriculum.

In addition to classroom lectures, most cardiovascular programs will include some type of clinical experience. Programs may be structured differently. For instance, an internship working as a cardiovascular tech may be completed at the end of the program.

Currently, not all states require cardiovascular technologists to be licensed. But some states do require certification, which is available through Cardiovascular Credentialing International. Candidates who are graduates from an accredited cardiovascular tech program are eligible to take the exam. Even if certification is not required by the state you live in, it may increase your employment opportunities.

Opportunities and Salary

Most cardiovascular technologists work in hospitals in cardiac catheterization labs. Jobs may also be found in medical practices, such as cardiologist offices, clinics and cardiac rehabilitation centers.

Some cardiovascular techs work day shift primarily. Procedures are often scheduled in advance. But those who work in hospitals, especially a cardiac catheterization lab, may have to work overnight shifts or be on-call in case of emergency procedures.

Salaries for cardiovascular technologists vary based on several factors. For example, in most cases, techs who specialize in invasive procedures tend to earn more than those who do noninvasive procedures. In addition to the type of procedures performed, salary may be influenced by experience and the part of the county you live in. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for cardiovascular technologists in 2014 was about $55,000 a year.

 

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