Telemetry technicians, or electrocardiogram technicians, help cardiologists and other healthcare service providers by monitoring patients' EKG waveforms. You must be able to interpret results and recognize irregular heart functions, such as an arrhythmia. Some employers may require you to pass a telemetry exam to prove that you know how to monitor patients, use telemetry equipment and interpret cardiac rhythms.
As you monitor a patient’s cardiac function, you’ll watch for significant changes. You’ll also print out and file rhythm strips, which reflect the data the machine recorded. You’ll perform your work under a nurse’s or other healthcare provider’s direct supervision. Part of your duties may involve attaching telemetry leads to a patient and troubleshooting equipment problems.
You’ll likely need to perform some administrative work as part of your job. Some employers may ask you to fill out patient information on charts, help admit and discharge patients, answer the telephone and call patients to schedule follow-up consultations. You may also help train new telemetry technicians your employer hires.
Education and Experience
Having a high school diploma or GED will qualify you for most telemetry technician jobs. Some employers, such as St. Mary’s Hospital in Decatur, Ill., may also want you to have taken a basic EKG and arrhythmia course. Most employers will require you to have at least one year of relevant experience, such as in reading EKG machines or in a healthcare setting.
Certification and Licensure
Not all employers will require you to have special certification to work as a telemetry technician but earning it may increase your chances of finding a job. You can take certification classes online. Some colleges, such as York College in New York, offer students the chance to take the certification exam through specialized courses. Some insurance companies may only cover services that a certified telemetry technician performs. Your employer may also want you to have CPR certification.
Because you’ll spend most of your day with patients and colleagues, you should be able to work well with others. You should also understand relevant medical terms, how to identify and resolve problems and how to use telemetry equipment. Having strong communication skills will come in handy as will knowing how to read an and interpret cardiac rhythms and arrhythmias.
William Henderson has been writing for newspapers, magazines and journals for more than 15 years. He served as editor of the "New England Blade" and is a former contributor to "The Advocate." His work has also appeared on The Good Men Project, Life By Me and The Huffington Post.