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How Do I Become an Electrocardiogram Technician?

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  • Written By: M. West
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2016
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Electrocardiogram technician careers involve conducting medical tests that assist doctors in making diagnoses, such as stress tests, heart scans, and electrocardiograms. The minimum educational requirement to become an electrocardiogram technician is a high school diploma, although as associate’s degree in medical technology will provide you with the advantages of having a supervisory position and a higher salary. An alternative to an associate’s degree is to receive training from a vocational school. In addition to the educational requirements, most jobs require a regional license and also certification in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Rounding out the requirements, are the possession of certain physical and personality characteristics.

In most countries, the preparation to become an electrocardiogram technician can begin in high school and continue on through a vocational school or community college. High school courses in biology, algebra, and physical education can be helpful, as well as studies in computer skills, typing, and grammar. Post high school training will be towards earning an associate's degree in medical technology, and will involve instruction in medical terminology, cardiovascular medication, and in the medical sciences of anatomy and physiology. Other training will include patient care techniques, medical ethics, and supervised practical experience.

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Aside from the training, anyone who wants to become an electrocardiogram technician should have physical and character traits that will equip him or her for the job. Good physical health is needed, along with a negative tuberculosis test and current immunizations. As you will be interacting with patients, doctors, and other members of the hospital health team, excellent communication skills are required. You should also have a good bedside manner and be capable of helping patients to remain calm during testing.

The primary duty of a member of this profession is to conduct an electrocardiogram, which is a test that evaluates and records the electrical activity of the heart. These tests help doctors to diagnose different diseases by revealing abnormal heart rhythms and showing damage to heart muscles. The electrocardiogram technician will first review the patient’s medical history, and then proceed to attach electrodes to the patient’s chest, arms, and legs. In addition to performing the test, you may be asked to help the doctor in interpreting the results. If an emergency occurs during the test, you should be able to recognize it and assist the doctor in responding to it.

With further training and experience, electrocardiogram technician duties can involve specialization in various heart testing areas. Such areas may include halter monitoring, which records a patient’s heart rhythm for one or two days, or stress testing, which monitors a patient’s heart during exercise. Other specialty areas include cardiac catheterization, phonocardiography, and vectorcardiography.

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