A cardiovascular technologist (also known as a vascular technologist) is a health professional who diagnoses cardiovascular problems. They use medical imaging methods like ultrasounds to diagnose heart conditions, vascular problems, or ailments that involves the heart, it’s arteries, valves, or blood vessels.
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How to Become a Cardiovascular Technologist
A cardiovascular technologist has to earn a bachelor’s degree in cardiovascular technology from an accredited program. After graduating, they must pass the Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist (RCIS) test in order to gain their certification. This can be earned through the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) and Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI). You may also want to check with your state’s requirements, some want state licensure to practice. You can do this by contacting your state’s medical board.
If you’re not sure a career as a cardiovascular technologist is for you, there is a free course on EdX.org titled Anatomy: Cardiovascular, Urinary, and Respiratory Systems (link opens in a new tab) from the University of Michigan. This is an introductory course, it’s online, and it’s self-paced. University of Michigan estimates it will take you 4 weeks to complete the course with an effort of 2-3 hours per week. This course will teach you about the structure and function of the cardiovascular, respiratory, and urinary system.
Job Description of a Cardiovascular Technologist
Typically a cardiovascular technologist prepares patients, position patients for the procedure, set-up the devices, and connect patients to any necessary diagnosing and monitoring equipment. They also operate diagnosing systems and carry out any non-medical procedure that may be necessary for the diagnosis. They use ultrasound imaging devices such as an EKG, C-arm, inteleflator, and generate reports from the tests administered.
A cardiovascular technologist only plays a diagnostic role and doesn’t intervene medically. However, they may interpret the reports for a patient and assist the cardiovascular surgeon or doctor.
Cardiovascular Technologist Career Video Transcript
It takes a team to accomplish the everyday miracles of modern care for heart patients. Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians are essential members of that team. Technologists are trained to prepare patients and assist physicians during procedures such as cardiac catheterization and open-heart surgery. They also monitor patients’ blood pressure and heart rate. The work requires a high degree of precision and concentration, but also the ability to keep patients comfortable and ease their anxiety.
The work of technicians focuses on the measurement of the electrical signals generated by the heart—called an electrocardiogram, or EKG. Technicians place sensors on the patient, and operate different machines that record the patient’s heartbeat. They also administer stress tests. Some technicians take images, known as echocardiograms, of a patient’s heart using ultrasound equipment. An associate’s degree in cardiovascular technology and certification are the most common qualifications needed for employment. The work can be stressful, but very rewarding because every hour of every day someone’s life is on the line.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, Including Vascular Technologists.
National Center for O*NET Development. 29-2031.00. O*NET OnLine.
The career video is Public Domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.