Unlike any other professions in the healthcare field, a typical day for an EKG technician is almost the same as any other days.
I have been working as an EKG Technician for 8 years and I started my career first as a nursing aide while I was still studying. I took up cardiovascular technology program because I have always been interested in human anatomy and the amazing things that go on inside us – especially the heart – where life begins and ends.
I spend most of my time seeing patients, do some paperwork, and check the medical testing equipment. It sounds like a boring job for others. But for me, this is what I have always wanted to do. And every case that I attend to is always different from the rest. Each one is a mystery – with a different story, in which the ending is always unpredictable.
EKG Test stands for electrocardiogram test. It is a procedure that measures the electrical activity of the heart. We all know that the heart pumps blood with oxygen to the different parts of the body. The right part of the heart collects blood where it is pumped to the lungs to be filled with oxygen. The blood, which is now filled with oxygen passes through the left side of the heart as it flows to the different parts of the body to spread the oxygen, then goes back to the right side of the heart and to the lungs again.
The key to all this heart activity is the electrical system that makes the left and right side of the heart contract and relaxes in the right combination. The heart cycle (contraction and relaxation) is supposed to be spontaneous and should only take a second in normal circumstances. Anything more or less may indicate a different thing.
The EKG Machine
The EKG machine records those electrical impulses. The contraction and relaxation is recorded with what looks like a sharp wave. A normal heart beat will show a certain pattern as it relaxes and contracts at regular intervals. While a record that shows irregular pattern indicates an abnormality.
The Job of an EKG Technician
When your doctor informs you that you need an EKG procedure done, you will be referred to an EKG technician like me, who will conduct the whole procedure that only takes about 10 to 15 minutes. After I verify all information on your referral slip, I explain the whole procedure and answer all questions with regard to the procedure.
As you lie on the examining table or on your bed, about 15 to 20 electrodes will be attached to your arms, legs and chest. Those electrodes detect and conduct the electric currents of your heart. And if you have hair on the parts where those electrodes should be attached, it’s also my job to shave the hair to attach the electrodes properly.
During the EKG test, I have to observe the patient and see to it that he or she is breathing normally, warm and lying still. Any movement, shivering or talking may not produce an accurate result.
As the EKG machine reads the impulses generated by the electrodes, it generates wave tracings which are printed onto a paper. During this time, I have to monitor the tracings to check for any abnormality. And if the machine fails to establish acceptable result, I may repeat the procedure, make some adjustment on the machine, or use alternative techniques. There are occasions when I have to request the presence of a physician or the nurse during the procedure when I see something unusual. Otherwise, I simply highlight areas of concern before I forward the result of the test for the analysis of the physician.
When the result demonstrates a symptom that calls for more investigation, I do another round of tests which is known as Holter monitoring or stress test.
When the initial test result displays an irregular pattern, it indicates an irregular heartbeat. If it’s an in-patient, I just bring in the portable EKG monitor called Holter to the patient’s room. It is fastened to the patient’s belt for 24 hours to again monitor his heartbeat. At the end of the test period, I check the result for accuracy before I make the report for the doctor’s interpretation.
A stress test is requested if the doctor wants to determine the effects of physical exertion to the patient’s cardiovascular system. An EKG reading is done while the patient is standing still and compares its result when he or she is walking on a treadmill. During his walk on the treadmill, I slowly increase the speed of the treadmill to see more results.
As an EKG technician, part of my job is to maintain the patient’s records and maintain a log of patient visits. I do 30 to 35 EKG’s on a typical day. That means 30 to 40 different stories and 30 to 40 opportunities to help. I don’t get tired of my job and I think that I’ll continue to do this for as long as somebody needs to understand what’s going on inside their heart.