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Online electrocardiography (EKG) courses are found in a range of educational programs, including those that earn bachelor’s degrees, associate's degrees and certificates. Some of these programs are aimed specifically at preparing students for national certification exams. On an informal level, those interested in this career path can take a non-credit online EKG course or receive on-the-job training.
EKG technicians utilize and interpret readings from an EKG machine that creates data based on the electrical impulses of the heart. This data is collected via electrodes attached to a patient. EKG testing is often done during regular checkups or as a screening step before a patient undergoes surgery. It can also be used to diagnose or treat heart or blood vessel conditions.
The best online EKG course to take depends on the medical setting being targeted for employment. In some cases, an EKG technician will work directly with patients. Other times, nurses handle the task of attaching the EKG electrodes to a patient. If the setting has nurses completing the task, an EKG technician might be employed to monitor the EKG readings a group of patients from a centralized setting.
There is some debate over what kind of online EKG course of study is the best precursor to entering employment. For example, those with some experience in a healthcare field might be able to obtain on-the-job training. Those with no healthcare background might need a bachelor’s degree. The best way to decide on an appropriate training program is to check with area medical institutions and ask what level of education they require of their EKG technicians.
Any online EKG course should include instruction on how to monitor EKG waveforms. This includes interpreting rhythms and arrhythmias and reporting this information to medical staff overseeing the patient being monitored. Other courses can include heart anatomy, cardiac and other medical terminology, cardiac medications and how to maintain the EKG equipment.
Opportunities for taking an online EKG course include obtaining a bachelor’s degree or an associate's degree in cardiovascular technology, a certificate and non-credit EKG technician courses. Generally, there are more job opportunities with advanced training. Those with advanced training are also often responsible for performing additional stress tests that involve monitoring a patient while he or she is running on a treadmill, for example. EKG technicians with advanced training can also administer a Holter monitor test, which involves attaching a portable EKG device to a patient for a certain period of time, usually at least 24 hours.
In the U.S., it is also possible to take an exam and earn national certification as an EKG technician. In some cases, this exam can be taken online at a pre-approved testing site. There are also usually specific educational requirements that must be met before taking the exam.
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