What is a Neurodiagnostic Tech?
Neurodiagnostic techs are allied health professionals who specialize in the testing and analysis of the electrical activity of the central, autonomic, and peripheral nervous systems. They utilize various diagnostic tests to record electrical patterns and help identify areas of neurological dysfunction that may be contributing to health problems.
EEG techs and polysomnography techs are also involved in assessing brain function and analyzing sleep patterns, respectively, and are sometimes grouped under the neurodiagnostic technology umbrella. While EEG techs are sometimes referred to as neurodiagnostic techs, the specific job title and responsibilities may vary depending on the employer and job description.
What Does a Neurodiagnostic Tech Do?
A neurodiagnostic tech is a medical professional who administers tests to evaluate the function of the central and peripheral nervous systems. They use various advanced diagnostic techniques such as electroencephalograms, nerve conduction studies, electromyography, intraoperative monitoring, autonomic function tests, magnetoencephalography, evoked potentials, and polysomnograms to measure electrical activity in the brain and nervous system.
Procedures can last up to two hours or require continuous daily monitoring. Neurodiagnostic techs must have sound judgment and reasoning skills, as well as individual initiative, to perform their duties effectively.
Neurodiagnostic techs are responsible for preparing patients for testing, explaining the procedure and results to patients, maintaining patient safety and comfort during testing, recording events during the study, and calibrating and maintaining the testing equipment. They also consult with referring physicians and neurologists to analyze the data to provide accurate diagnoses and treatments.
What Skills Does a Neurodiagnostic Tech Need?
The job of a neurodiagnostic tech requires a combination of technical and soft skills to manage advanced equipment and communication with their patients. They encounter a variety of patients daily and must be able to adapt to each situation while administering complex testing procedures. Neurodiagnostic techs should have:
- A strong understanding of anatomy and physiology for proper placement of testing equipment
- Expertise in neurodiagnostic technology
- Technical skills to maintain and troubleshoot issues with the equipment
- Communication skills to work with patients who have a wide range of physical and intellectual abilities
- Strong interpersonal skills to support collaboration with other members of the healthcare team
- Analytical skills to assess testing results and accurately report these to the healthcare team
- The ability to work independently
Work Settings For Neurodiagnostic Techs
Polysomnography techs usually work at sleep and study labs or sleep research centers. Often they work during the night to evaluate brain activity while patients are sleeping.
Other neurodiagnostic techs, including EEG techs, usually work during daytime hours at hospitals, outpatient centers, or private practices. In a larger facility, neurodiagnostic techs may often specialize in one or two types of testing.
Common Cases Neurodiagnostic Techs Encounter
Neurodiagnostic testing is a crucial tool used to evaluate electrical activity in the nervous system. Intraoperative neuromonitoring is used during surgeries to give real-time information to the surgeon about the integrity of the nervous system and to guard against negative outcomes such as paralysis or stroke, particularly during spinal and vascular surgeries.
Neurodiagnostic techs may encounter a variety of neurological conditions during their work. Some common cases that they may encounter include brain tumors, head trauma, multiple sclerosis, stroke, epilepsy or seizures, sleep and breathing disorders, as well as movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease or restless leg syndrome. It's important for neurodiagnostic techs to be well-versed in identifying and monitoring these conditions, as their work plays a critical role in helping physicians diagnose and treat these conditions.
Education Requirements & Helpful Certifications
Neurodiagnostic techs typically require formal education from an accredited school specializing in a neurodiagnostic testing program. High school students interested in this career path can take classes in biology, math, computer science, and language, and gain experience by volunteering at a healthcare facility.
Neurodiagnostic testing programs can be completed within 24 months, and some offer part-time options to allow for work. Coursework typically includes anatomy, physiology, and general psychology, as well as clinical training.
After graduating from an accredited two-year associate program in electroneurodiagnostic technology, you can take a professional certification exam, depending on your area of specialization. The following organizations offer nationally recognized certifications:
- Nerve Conduction Association (AAET)
- ABRET Neurodiagnostic Credentialing and Accreditation
- Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (BRPT)
How to Advance Your Career as a Neurodiagnostic Tech
ASET is an international neurodiagnostic professional association. Since 2004 they have promoted the recognition of neurodiagnostics as a distinct profession and recommended licensure for greater regulation in the field.
They also promote a career ladder that stresses education, credentialing, and licensure as a way to focus on patient safety and protect the scope of practice. With additional education and certification, a neurodiagnostic tech can perform intraoperative monitoring and increase their salary potential. Experience in the healthcare field may also lead them to open other career doors, such as in nursing or dosimetry
Average Salary For Neurodiagnostic Techs
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage for a health technologist or technician is $49,230 and the median hourly wage is $21.98. Over 50% work at general medical and surgical hospitals followed closely by outpatient care centers. The top-paying states for Neurodiagnostic techs include Hawaii, Nebraska, New York, and Oregon.
The Pros of Being a Neurodiagnostic Tech & Other Considerations:
There are many pro’s that go along with becoming a Neurodiagnostic tech. To name a few:
- High demand for neurodiagnostic techs
- Can enter the field with an associate degree
- Job is varied and stimulating
- Most people work the day shift
There are some other things to consider that are inherent to this role:
- May spend long hours on your feet
- Responsible for high-cost, high-tech equipment
- Participate in medical emergencies
- May work weekends and holidays
Specialty Organizations & Communities
- ASET: The Neurodiagnostic Society: This international organization focuses on advocacy, education, certification, and promoting the advancement of the profession.
- Electroneurodiagnostic Technologists, NDT/END techs, NCS, EEG, IOM, NCS: This private Facebook group offers the opportunity for those in the field to network, find job postings, and learn from each other.
- EEG Technologist Job Opportunities: This private Facebook group lists job opportunities and acts as a general forum for members to share ideas.
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