A cardiovascular technologist is a medical technologist who specializes in assisting physicians with diagnostics and treatment of cardiac (or heart) and peripheral vascular (or blood vessel) illnesses, diseases and other ailments. The most common specialties for cardiovascular technologists are invasive cardiology, non-invasive cardiology, and vascular technology. A cardiovascular technologist may be employed at a hospital, private physician’s office, a clinic, or other areas of medical or wellness employment where cardiovascular technologists may be needed.
The tasks of a Cardiovascular Technologist
The daily tasks of a cardiovascular technologist will vary depending on what, if anything, they have decided to specialize in. Some cardiovascular technologists choose to study multiple specialties, while others focus on particular area, and still others decide to remain general cardiovascular technologists without a special area of study.
In general, a cardiovascular technologist will spend most of the day in a clean environment, walking and standing for most of the day. They will be required to update patient records and files, deal with patient records and files, as well as input any necessary coding or information into patient files as instructed by the physician. Cardiovascular technologists are responsible for moving cardiovascular equipment, transferring patients to different areas of the hospital, clinic or office, as well as prepping patients for their examinations and procedures.
A cardiovascular technologist will usually be the one explaining the procedure to the patient, as well as the one who gives any necessary instructions before a procedure, such as diet restrictions or explaining any necessary medication that must be taken before an exam. Cardiovascular technologists will also assist physicians as they perform heart related examinations and procedures, often by inserting needles and tubes, taking and delivering samples, as well as monitoring any equipment being used while keeping an eye on the patient.
Cardiovascular technologists who specialize in invasive cardiology are sometimes called cardiology technologists. These cardiology technologists assist physicians when they perform cardiac, or heart, catheterization procedures. A cardiac catheterization procedure involves a small catheter tube being threaded through a patient from an area on their groin to the heart and through their artery. This procedure is typically done to determine whether or not there is a blockage in the vessels of the heart. In addition to such diagnostic tests, cardiology technologists will assist in procedures such as balloon angioplasty, which is often used to treat blockages in the heart vessels and heart valves without requiring open heart surgery.
A cardiology technologist will need to assist a physician during these tests by helping to insert catheters and other tubes, as well as monitoring any ultrasound or other examinations used to determine where specific tubes and catheters are as they are threaded through the patient’s body. These technologists will also be responsible for explaining the procedure to patients, giving instructions to patients that need to undergo these procedures, and prepping the patient as necessary for an invasive cardiology procedure. A cardiology technologist may face a higher amount of stress in their work environment because of the serious implications of invasive heart procedures. Although such procedures are performed every day, there may be complications that lead to life and death situations.
Cardiovascular technologists who specialize in non-invasive cardiovascular technology tend to specialize in the areas of vascular technology. Non-invasive cardiovascular technology means that the procedures and examinations do not require probes, tubes or other instruments to be inserted into the patient’s body. One example of this is the Doppler ultrasound, which transmits a high frequency sound wave into a specific area of the patient’s body. The reflected echoes of the sound waves form an image, which can then be examined by a physician who will use it to help diagnose problems with the patient’s heart.
A cardiovascular technologist may be exposed to a certain amount of radiation due to the equipment they use to assist and perform non-invasive procedures, so it is very important that they are properly covered and adhere to radiologic guidelines when using equipment. A technologist who specializes in non-invasive technology will assist the physician by performing tests such as the Doppler ultrasound test, by prepping patients for similar procedures, getting information from the patient, transferring the patient, and delivering results of examinations to physicians. These technologists are also on hand to assist the physician as he examines patients.
The typical cardiovascular technologist will work five days and approximately 40 hours a week, if their employer has a regular schedule. However, cardiology technologists (those that specialize in invasive procedures) tend to work longer hours and may even be required to be on-call in case of emergencies.
Training to work as a Cardiovascular Technologist
Most employers now require some form of formal training in order to be hired as a cardiovascular technologist. Most cardiovascular technologists study in 2 year programs which will give them an Associate’s degree in cardiovascular technology. There are 4 year programs available, and they are becoming increasingly popular as a way to study more than one area of cardiovascular technology.
When studying at a two year program, the first year is dedicated to core medical courses taken by most who intend to enter the medical field. These courses include anatomy, mathematics, science, medical ethics, medical terminology, and other useful courses. The second year is usually entirely dedicated to instruction in cardiovascular technology. Some programs allow those who have already completed related degrees—such as medical assisting, medical technology, etc—to go right to the year of cardiovascular technology instruction if their previous degree program included the proper core classes for instruction.
Other requirements for working as a Cardiovascular Technologist
A cardiovascular technologist should be able to stay on their feet for most of the day, and be in good shape and good health. They may be required to assist in moving patients, and do some heavy lifting when transferring or using equipment.
Because cardiovascular diseases can be serious, the job may be of a higher stress level than similar technologists in other fields. Those that work with invasive procedures can be literally working within life-and-death scenarios, and a calm demeanor and quick mind are necessary in case anything should go wrong.
Prospective job market for a Cardiovascular Technologist
The prospective job market for a cardiovascular technologist is very good, and expected to grow faster than average throughout the next decade. Those who have more than one degree in the medical field or have studied more than one area of cardiovascular technology will have more opportunities than those with only one degree, however there is still a very good outlook for those who choose to pursue only one degree in the field.
The average salary for a cardiovascular technologists varies depending on their location, experience, and where they are working. The lowest 10% reported earnings of less than $30,000, while the highest 10% reported earnings of over $70,000. The average salary for a cardiovascular technologist is $46,500.
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