Training to become an electroneurodiagnostic technologist (END) is a relatively new opportunity for those considering medical careers. However, the demand for the specialized skills required to fill this role is quickly outgrowing the number of trained technicians available. These individuals are thoroughly trained in all aspects of neurophysiology and the use of specialized medical equipment to measure and record electrical impulses occurring in the autonomic, peripheral, and central nervous systems. ENDs collect and analyze this data to enable neurologists to diagnose and address various neurological disorders, such as migraines, epilepsy, endocrine disorders, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. Of course, ENDs are also qualified to detect brain injuries, as well as determine brain death.
As medical equipment specialists, these technicians must learn how to perform and interpret a wide range of tests via computer-assisted equipment in order to become an electroneurodiagnostic technologist. One of the most common tests performed by ENDs are electroencephalograms (EEGs) to measure brain activity, which is why ENDs are sometimes referred to as EEG technologists. Closely related to these kinds of tests are polysomnograms, which are usually carried out in a sleep laboratory for the purpose of diagnosing sleep apneas. ENDs are also called upon to observe brain and nerve activity while patients are undergoing surgical procedures. In addition, ENDs participate in nerve conduction tests and studies designed to trace electrical impulses generated in response to external stimuli.
Training to become an electroneurodiagnostic technologist requires a high school diploma or equivalent, followed by one to two years of intensive study in the areas of neuropathology, neurophysiology, psychology, clinical application, electronics and computer science. As previously mentioned, this is a relatively new field and there are only a handful of schools that provide END training and certification, which are designated as Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). In the U.S., for example, there are only a dozen or so accredited schools, a list of which may be obtained from the American Society of Electroneurodiagnostic Technologists, Inc. These fortunate students may obtain licensure through The American Board of Registration of Electroencephalographic and Evoked Potential Technologists (ABRET).
As might be expected, once one has become an electroneurodiagnostic technologist, he or she is most likely to find employment in a hospital or other clinical setting. However, ENDs are also needed in research facilities and similar laboratory environments, particularly those that monitor sleep disorders and epilepsy patients. In addition, more and more physicians' offices are being equipped with neurodiagnostic instruments, creating even more employment opportunities.