What Does a Monitor Technician Do?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A monitor technician watches cardiac monitors for signs of abnormalities that may indicate a patient needs medical attention. These technicians, also called cardiac monitors, tend to work in cardiac labs, although they can be employed in other settings as well. They receive training on the job in a course that lasts several weeks to a year to prepare them for their responsibilities. A fully trained monitor technician can use the training and experience in applications to positions in other hospitals and clinics, where previously certified technicians may enjoy an advantage in applications.

Monitor technicians are an important part of a patient's health care team, because they can alert doctors to potential issues as they occur.
Monitor technicians are an important part of a patient's health care team, because they can alert doctors to potential issues as they occur.

When a monitor technician arrives at work, a nursing supervisor gives an assignment. This includes a set of patients, and any specific notes on their conditions that might be important for the technician to know about. Technicians check the equipment to make sure it is in good working order, and watch monitors throughout the shift to check for problems. Many can take advantage of telemetry equipment, which allows them to monitor remotely rather than at the bedside. In addition to being less stressful for patients, this can allow the technician to monitor multiple patients at once from a single workstation.

Cardiac monitoring may be used immediately following heart surgery to track the heart's function.
Cardiac monitoring may be used immediately following heart surgery to track the heart's function.

If the monitor technician notes a concern, like a change in the patient’s heart rhythm, a nurse or doctor can be alerted. These members of the hospital staff usually have constant contact with care providers to coordinate care efficiently and effectively. They may use a paging system to contact people in an emergency. Notes can also be made in patient charts, alongside those left by other members of the care team, to keep everyone updated on the patient’s progress.

Monitor technicians may take baseline readings which can be used to compare future test results.
Monitor technicians may take baseline readings which can be used to compare future test results.

In addition to working with patients, a monitor technician maintains supplies and makes sure equipment is stored in working order. Technicians can restock supply trays with the necessary cardiac leads, electrodes, and other equipment. If supplies need to be ordered, they can alert managers and provide information about what is needed. Experienced technicians may train new employees in addition to providing orientations for people new to a given ward or floor.

During cardiac monitoring, a patient is fitted with a telemetry transmitter that sends data to the area of the hospital where the monitoring occurs.
During cardiac monitoring, a patient is fitted with a telemetry transmitter that sends data to the area of the hospital where the monitoring occurs.

The requirements for job openings can depend on the facility. Some expect an aspiring monitor technician to have certification in Basic Life Support (BLS), and some may have additional certification requirements. These ensure that all providers start with a basic understanding of safety and how to act in an emergency. The facility may provide cardiac training, or could request that applicants already be certified by other hospitals or technical schools that offer monitor technician classes.

Hospitals employ monitor technicians.
Hospitals employ monitor technicians.
Some monitor technicians work in intensive care units, overseeing the stats of critically ill patients.
Some monitor technicians work in intensive care units, overseeing the stats of critically ill patients.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

Animandel

@mobilian33 - While it is true that no education beyond high school is required to be hired in a position as a monitor technician, the competition to land one of these positions has intensified and employers are becoming more selective during the hiring process.

More medical centers are looking for monitor technician applicants who have completed training programs and received certification or applicants who have earned associate's degrees in cardiac sonography, electrocardiography or cardiovascular technology.

However, regardless of how much training or education a technician monitor has, there is still on-the-job training that must be completed. This training can last anywhere from 12 to 24 months, and the training is carried out by cardiologists and cardiovascular supervisors.

mobilian33

Did you know that a high school diploma is as much education as a person needs to be hired as a monitor technician? This is an important job that comes with a lot of responsibility. Why doesn't the position call for more training?

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