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Expert Insights – An Interview with the Chair of Cardiology Technology

By April 28, 2022August 18th, 2022No Comments
cardiology technologist

Anderson College’s EQual™ Accredited Cardiology Technology program is in high demand and provides cardiac technologist training for those looking to make a powerful difference in the healthcare industry. If you have the ambition to assist physicians as they perform cardio-vascular procedures, glean from industry experts and train on state-of-the-art equipment to learn how to monitor and diagnose heart and blood vessel disorders, then exploring a cardiac technologist course may be for you.

We had the opportunity to interview our Program Chair, Heather Peart. With over 30 years’ experience in the profession, as cardiology technologist, instructor and in utilizing her expertise within management and sales, her insights are invaluable. Her review of the program, what students’ cover in course material and lab work and what it takes to apply and succeed, offer those interested in a cardiac technologist course, what they need to determine if this training and career is a fit.

Let us proudly introduce … Heather Peart. We asked; she answered.

What will students learn in the program?

The students learn all aspects of cardiology. The biggest thing we focus on initially, is anatomy and physiology because you have to have an idea of what anatomy is and all the systems of the body and how it relates to cardiology. As well, they learn, medical terminology because there are a lot of medical terminologies that are used in cardiology. Cardiology is a language and because it’s a language, medical terminology is a major focus.

Once they get through all that, they’re basically learning the fundamentals of cardiology. And those fundamentals of cardiology set them up to understand the pathology of cardiology. They learn how to read ECGs, and they learn how the cardiovascular system affects the rest of the body. They learn what can go wrong with the heart – what can go wrong with the conduction system, what is the normal conduction system, how do drugs affect the conduction system, how do drugs affect the heart in regards to, for instance, the heart rate?

Once they come out of the program, I always say to students, “Now you can work on Grey’s Anatomy because you will be that person on Grey’s Anatomy talking about the ventricular tachycardia and you know what you’re talking about.”

What do students learn in the lab/cardiac clinic?

Oh, the lab is the most fantastic part! Because now, all the academia that they’ve learned, they are putting into practice. They initially start out with ECG, and if they’ve never done an ECG before, they’ll be excited. But, you know, after a little while, an ECG is an ECG, and they get bored. Once we start doing stress testing, the students are excited, because this now uses many parts of their brains. They have to take blood pressure. They have to make sure they’re monitoring the patient on the treadmill. They have to make sure that they’re actually monitoring the monitor, to make sure there’s no arrhythmia. When we actually do stress testing, they start out, initially, with each other as the patient. But then we actually start doing simulation. When we do simulation, we have arrhythmias happening. So now everything that they’ve learned, comes into play.

So, they’re really excited about that. As well, it can be quite stressful. But you know, I think they like the challenge of actually performing a stress test. Holter monitor, or ambulatory monitor, is another great area that students love because these are done at the end of the program, and everything that they’ve learned so far in regard to detecting arrhythmias, they have to put in place. I think that’s probably their favorite part of the program, in the lab, so stress testing, and ambulatory monitoring.

Who can join the program? Do you need a medical background?

Not a medical background per se, but we do have a lot of students who have a past medical background and especially a lot of out-of-country doctors who have migrated here and want to get into the medical profession quite quickly. This is one avenue that they actually do take. We have students who have no medical background. So that’s the other extreme that actually gets into this program as well. Usually, the students have to go through an interview with the Chair of the Program, which is me.

So, if I’m taking someone with no medical background, in regard to the whole psychology of that individual, I have to, within myself, know that this person can handle the program. Because as I’ve said many times, it is quite a rigorous program. It’s quite robust. So, a lot of the time, it has to be the individual who really wants this and who is willing to put in the work. That’s very important. It’s not like “I just want to be a cardiology technologist”. Are you willing to put in the work, or are you willing to put in the study and the time to be a cardiology technologist? Because this is a frontline profession. You have to be passionate about it. A lot of the time, what I’m looking for is passion, even for people who have all the background. Do they have the passion to do this?

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What are the job opportunities after graduation? Do students find jobs easily?

Since I started this program at Anderson … and to be completely honest with you … initially, I was a little bit worried. Because you start a program and you wonder, “How long is it going to run before the students can’t find jobs?”

But, we have been doing this now since 2015. I would say 85-90% of my students find jobs, full time. They find them in hospitals, cardiac clinics, and sales areas, in regard to cardiology. I am just impressed. It’s probably the times that we’re in, that there are a lot of cardiac jobs out there. Because I know, maybe a decade or so ago, it wasn’t like that. When I worked someplace else, a lot of students would finish the program and couldn’t find jobs. Now, my students find jobs. Even when I have students in class, I have clinics calling and asking “Do you have any students?” It’s “No, there are no students because they’re in class at the moment. I do not have any students that can actually go out on a job.”

So, there are so many job opportunities out there in regard to cardiology. That’s all I can say. I don’t know if it will ever dry up because I’ve been for years saying, you know, this is interesting in regard to the job, but students they walk out and have jobs!
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If you are passionate about people and the heartfelt work of cardiology technology and want to pursue an in-demand career, then we’re here to help.

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