In the United States, heart disease is the number one cause of death among men and women. With a forecasted annual growth of 7% through 2028, the need for telemetry technicians is in high demand. It is necessary to hire more technicians to save the lives of these patients with heart problems.
These individuals save lives every day by detecting heart problems and recommending treatment options. They are able to catch these issues before they become a major health issue for these patients. If you think that you’d like to make a difference in the medical field, you might consider becoming a telemetry technician.
Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about telemetry technicians and their field of medicine.
What Is Telemetry?
Telemetry is the electrical system used to monitor a patient’s heart activity. Heart activity is electrical and can be detected with an electrocardiogram (EKG). It helps cardiac doctors to determine the heart’s waveforms and shows any potential issues with the heart. Telemetry can also help determine how well the patient’s heart medications are working.
Who Are Telemetry Technicians?
Telemetry technicians work alongside nurses and inform them of any changes in the activity of the heart. These changes can indicate unforeseen risk factors in the patient’s health. For the most part, telemetry technicians deal with geriatric adults over the age of 65, though an increase in younger heart patients causes the demographic to vary.
These individuals are crucial members of a cardiac unit that is dealing with heart problems amongst their patients. They are able to detect these issues and present doctors with an accurate diagnosis and the proper treatment options for each individual case.
What Do They Do?
Telemetry technicians are trained to recognize the rhythms of the heart, but that’s not all that they do. Some of the tasks that a telemetry tech might come across on a daily basis are:
- Attaching electrodes
- Performing EKGs
- Monitoring the heart
- Detecting and observing heart rhythms
- Preparing, maintaining, and interpreting heart waveforms
- Cleaning and maintaining equipment
A telemetry technician will detect heart rhythms before recording and interpreting them. The EKG waveforms are then documented by recording heart rate, PR intervals, and QRs on rhythm strips.
They will then take the results of any testing or recording to the nurse in charge of the case. From there, these results will indicate different health problems along with treatment options. An accurate diagnosis is crucial to successful treatment.
In addition to placing the electrodes for the EKG, they can also fit patients with the Holter monitor. This portable EKG device offers a continuous recording of heart activity while the patient is away from the doctor. The technician will then take that information, interpret it, and then pass it on to the doctors and patients.
The different heart rhythms that a telemetry tech will look for are:
- Normal sinus rhythm
- Sinus bradycardia
- Sinus tachycardia
- Atrial fibrillation
- Atrial flutter
- Junctional rhythm
- First-degree heart block
- Second-degree heart block, type I & II
- Third-degree/complete heart block
- Premature ventricular contraction (PVC)
- Ventricular tachycardia
- Ventricular fibrillation
- Pulseless electrical activity (PEA)
The results of the telemetry will then be updated on the patient charts. This ensures that the readings are as accurate and up-to-date as possible.
How to Become a Telemetry Technician
The prerequisite for becoming a telemetry technician is a high school diploma or an equivalent education. Some employers may prefer that you have an associate’s degree in a related field.
To be considered in the medical field as a telemetry technician, you have to get your Telemetry Certification. You can take a course through the National Telemetry Association before taking the NTA exam for certification. The required grade for passing the exam is an 85%. The exam consists of 300 questions relating to:
- Heart anatomy
- EKG equipment
- Electrical impulse interpretation
In order to move forward from this point, you will need to understand your telemetry training and be able to run the Holter, 12 Lead EKG, and the stress test. You will also have to know everything about the heart (heart chambers, valves, veins, and blood flow) as well as how electrophysiology works in relation to the heart.
After completing the certification, it is ideal to get certified in Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) so that you can be completely prepared for anything.
Seventy-five percent of individuals going into the field take this route. However, it is possible to get into telemetry tech via on-the-job training, a degree program, or a diploma program.
Where Can Telemetry Techs Work?
You can find telemetry techs working in several different medical facilities where their services might be needed.
This might include in public hospitals where the tests are performed in a lab or in private practices where testing is done in the office. It can also include cardiac centers and outpatient care facilities. Research labs, where stress testing is performed, can also employ telemetry technicians.
Telemetry technicians are likely to work wherever these echocardiogram tests are done. Regardless of their location and thanks to modern technology, they can still send the results back to the doctors who’ve requested the tests and to the patients who’ve undergone the tests easily.
Is This the Career for You?
A career in telemetry is the perfect fit for someone who wants to help people. If you have strong communication skills and tend to work well with others, a telemetry technician position may be perfect for you.
Contact the National Telemetry Association today for more information on telemetry technicians, the certification course, and the follow-up exam.