Degrees for Cardiovascular Technicians
Cardiovascular technicians assist doctors in diagnosing and treating heart and vascular conditions. These health professionals record images, measure electrical function, check for blood vessel blockages, measure pulses and perform other procedures. They may specialize in the following areas:
- Invasive cardiology
- Vascular technology
The general responsibilities of cardiovascular technicians and technologists may include:
- Scheduling appointments and explaining procedures to patients and relatives
- Maintaining and preparing equipment
- Reviewing medical records
- Analyzing and documenting test results
- Preparing patients for and conducting ultrasounds and other cardiovascular procedures
- Monitoring patients’ heart rates
Cardiovascular technicians who specialize in invasive cardiology assist physicians in performing cardiac catheterization procedures, balloon angioplasties, and the insertion of stents and pacemakers. During these procedures they use EKG equipment to monitor patients.
Cardiovascular technicians and technologists who specialize in vascular technology and echocardiography usually use non-invasive methods when assisting doctors in diagnosing and treating patients.
Vascular technologists use ultrasound and other technologies to assess blood flow through veins and arteries, check pulses and circulation, andmeasure oxygen saturation (often during or immediately after surgery).
Electrocardiograph (EKG) technicians use technology to monitor electrical impulses happening in patients’ hearts while in surgery, at medical appointments, during exercise or while conducting daily activities.
Most cardiovascular technicians and technologists work in hospitals. Some of them may find job in doctor’s offices.
If you wish to become a cardiovascular technician or technologist, you should complete a minimum of a two-year degree program through a community college, vocational school or university. Nowadays bachelor’s degree programs are the most popular.
Graduation from accredited programs is a key to professional certification. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Professionals (CAAHEP) accredits programs in cardiovascular technology. If you wish to specialize in echocardiography or vascular technology, you should attend programs accredited in diagnostic medical sonography as well.
Coursework for Cardiovascular Technicians
Coursework in two-year programs for cardiovascular technicians usually includes:
- Electrocardiology, echocardiography, electrocardiography, ultrasound and cardiac Doppler
- Color flow studies utilizing color flow equipment as well as other types of echocardiography equipment
- Holter monitoring and exercise stress testing 1 year of core courses
- Invasive testing procedures
- Recognition of and intervention in lethal arrhythmias
- Interventional procedures such as stents, angioplasty and intra-aortic balloon pumps
- Cardiac electrophysiology and pacemakers
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
- Principles of blood supply in extremities and vital organs, and the nature of obstructions
- One year of instruction according to selected area of specialty
- Supervised clinical experience through internships or externships is a necessary part in these educational programs.
Unfortunately, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Professionals (CAAHEP) has not yet accredited any online or distance-learning programs. Online programs may not offer the same type of practical experience opportunities that are coordinated by most on-campus programs.
In addition, all online courses should be part of an institution with accreditation from agencies approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or United States Department of Education (USDE).
Employment and Education Requirements
You should keep in mind that the basic requirement for the admission into educational program in cardiovascular technology is a high school diploma or equivalent. Programs may also require previous allied health training or certification and work experience in a health-related field.
It’s very important to underline that some states require licensure, and certification through the Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) and/or the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS). These organizations offer certification in several different areas of specialization. They require that applicants have graduated from a CAAHEP-accredited program.
USA Schools for Getting Cardiovascular Technology Degree
There are many institutes and colleges across the USA that offer an opportunity to obtain certificate programs and degrees in cardiovascular technology. These are some of them:
- Associated Technical College – Los Angeles, California
- Southeast Technical Institute – Sioux Falls, South Dakota
- Sanford-Brown Institute and College
- Grossmont College – El Cajon, California
- West Coast Ultrasound Institute, Beverly Hills, California
- Santa Fe College – Gainesville, Florida
- City College of San Francisco – San Francisco, California
- Community College of the Air Force, Montgomery, Alabama
- EDIC College – Caguas, Puerto Rico
- City Colleges of Chicago – Wilbur Wright College, Chicago, Illinois
- Beckfield College – Florence, Kentucky
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