Neurodiagnostic technology assists in diagnosing problems with the brain, nervous system, and sleep habits of humans. Someone in this profession uses complex diagnostic equipment to perform tests that target these three areas of the human body. The neurodiagnostic technologist can be referred to as a neuro tech or tech. He works in a hospital or outpatient clinic setting. He is usually the person who discovers abnormalities that allow the physician to diagnosis and treat a patient’s problems.
A neuro tech is responsible for doing a variety of tests that look at how the brain, nerves, and muscles work. He talks with patients and prepares them for testing by explaining what is going to occur, how it will affect them, and why the results of the testing will assist the patient’s physician. He performs the test then ensures that results are accurate. He recognizes and corrects abnormalities caused by sources other than the patient.
The neuro tech will review, edit, and offer explanation for test results prior to sending them to the physician. He needs to ensure that the information the report relays has value and is easy for the physician to interpret and apply to the patient’s clinical condition. He will need to account for normal variances versus abnormalities in testing results.
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The neuro tech is capable of performing a variety of advanced diagnostic tests. He can perform electroencephalograms that measure electrical activity of the brain. He can perform nerve conduction studies that measure how the brain conducts messages to various nerves throughout the body. He can also do electromyography, which measures the electrical activity of skeletal muscles. He can also do intraoperative monitoring of nerves and muscle responses. These are just a few of the studies that the neuro tech can assist with or perform independently.
A neuro tech must be comfortable working with people and be able to communicate effectively. Interpersonal skills help the neuro tech convey instructions and allay anxiety. He must be able to employ active listening and problem solving to encourage cooperation.
The tech must also be comfortable working with other members of the healthcare team. He must interact with physicians and surgeons who want the test results. He must be able to explain the testing results and answer any questions the physician may have. Accurate results are the cornerstone of the testing process.
Other desirable traits include exceptional fine motor skills, adequate hearing and vision, and critical thinking abilities. He will need to understand and utilize personal protective equipment and universal protective and safety precautions.
An associate degree in electroneurodiagnostic technology is the entry-level educational requirement. This degree can be obtained at a community college. There are a number of colleges across North American that offers this program.
Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, N.C. offers an eletroneurodiagnostic technology degree. Prospective students should have a strong background in sciences such as biology. It takes the average student approximately 24 months to complete all the coursework needed to graduate. Classes such as anatomy and physiology, medical law and ethics, and general psychology will complement clinical training.
The British Columbia Institute of Technology in Vancouver, Canada offers a Diploma of Technology in Eletroneurophysiology. The program prepares the student to enter the world of neurodiagnostic technology with the skill and confidence to do the job. The program takes about 24 months to complete. Students will learn how to perform the tests and the correlating anatomy and pathology.
Neuro techs can expect to work in a hospital, outpatient clinic, research facility, or sleep study labs. The workspaces are clean but often small. The machinery takes up a large portion of the space leaving a relatively small space for the patient and tech. Work areas cool due to the heat put off by the machinery.
The neuro tech can expect to wear scrubs and a lab coat or jacket. When leaving the area most companies require a lab coat to cover the uniform. Hair will need to be short or pulled back at all times. Body piercings are usually not allowed due to safety reasons. A professional appearance is essential to gaining the trust of patients.
Salaries vary depending on experience and geographical location. Current information provided by the U.S. Labor Bureau estimates the mean 2010 salary as between $40,000 - $50,000 for a neuro tech with 1 to 4 years of experience.
The demand for neuro techs has been rising steadily over the past 5 years. Jobs are expected to increase at a remarkable rate of 28% over the next five years. The largest job growth will occur in large cities that serve as hubs for more complicated healthcare needs such as neurodiagnostics. With the aging population in North America on the rise, there will be an increase in the demand for skilled technicians.
The field of neurodiagnostics is an excellent place to be. Increasing demand and salaries will provide a neuro tech with a career capable of producing an above average salary. Job satisfaction has proven positive in the field. This career can provide the neuro tech with the means to support themself and their family throughout their lifetime.