Cardiovascular Technologist - Job Description, Duties, Education, Skills, Salary, & Growth

Cardiovascular Technologist


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Job Description

Cardiovascular Technologists work in conjunction with physicians to diagnose and treat cardiac and peripheral vascular diseases, or those of that heart and blood vessels, respectively. Cardiovascular Technologists work directly with patients to treat patients who might be suffering from any heart ailments or blood vessel ailments.

Cardiovascular Technologists are responsible for providing assistance with any heart-related procedures that a patient might be undergoing. Cardiovascular Technologists help assist physicians with some common tasks that they might need done from someone else like reviewing some of the doctor and patient documentation based on previous patient-physician interactions, monitoring a patient’s heart rate before, during, and after medical procedures, in addition to scheduling various appointments.

Cardiovascular Technologists will also assist the physician with the monitoring, maintenance, and upkeep of equipment that is used on a daily basis. Cardiovascular Technologists are also in charge of answering any questions that the patient might have regarding their current condition, treatment plans, the medical procedure, and any questions they might have regarding some of the tests that were conducted.

In addition, CTs are responsible for educating the patient about what the results mean based on the tests that were conducted for their heart and vascular condition.

Cardiovascular Technologists are also responsible for perform some very complex medical procedures in an emergency scenario like the assistance of installing a pacemaker, taking emergency calls, using defibrillators, conducting tests to determine and diagnose heart disease, stent implants, and more.

As Cardiovascular Technologists progress throughout their career, their job duties will also change based on their skill and experience level.

Another import part of the normal duties that a Cardiovascular Technologist might have includes using different machines to analyze a patient and their vessels to ensure they are as healthy as they can be.

Cardiovascular Technologists also have the ability to specialize in several different areas of practice which allow them to focus on one aspect of the vascular healthcare procedures that they might be working on. The responsibilities for Cardiovascular Technologists will differ based on whether or not they choose to specialize in a certain area of practice, or whether they choose to provide and assist physicians with a broader range of care.

For instance, in some specialties the Cardiovascular Technologist will be tasked with assisting the patient with different drug administration, the positioning of the patient, cleaning and shaving the patient, or monitoring how the patient responds to certain stimulants.

There are three areas of practice in which cardiovascular technologists may choose to specialize:

Echocardiography

This specialty includes technologists that administer echocardiograms (EKGs) and sonograms of the heart. Echocardiography also includes those that perform Holter monitor procedures as well as stress testing. Part of working as a Cardiovascular Technologist who specializes in Echocardiography means that you will have to become an expert in several different devices and uses of echocardiograms. Some of the different uses for echocardiograms include Transthoracic, Stress, Three-Dimensional, Fetal, and Transesophageal.

These tests are designed to make sure that the heart is functioning properly and the images help them identify any problems with the heart like any concerns with the aorta, potentially spot any fluid sacs around the heart, or any blood clots in or around the heart.

These different cardiogram uses help Cardiovascular Technologists and Physicians identify different vascular issues that a patient might be suffering from.

Invasive Cardiology

Invasive Cardiology means using minimally-invasive techniques to open up the patient through surgery to help assist in identifying or treating any structural vascular concerns that a patient might be suffering from.

This specialty focuses on invasive procedures like cardiac catheterization, in which a small tube is threaded through a groin artery to the heart. This procedure is necessary to determine whether or not there's a blockage in the vessels that supply the heart.

The two things that Invasive Cardiology is largely responsible for include stenting and angioplasty.

Vascular Technology

Vascular Technologists and sonographers assist physicians with diagnosing disorders that affect circulation. They update and evaluate the patient's history, check their pulses, evaluate blood flow and pressure, and schedule proper testing. Most tests are performed immediately before or after the patient enters surgery.

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Responsibilities

Cardiovascular Technologists have a host of important responsibilities and task that they perform on a daily basis. The most important responsibilities that you can expect in your role as a Cardiovascular Technologist are listed below:

Cardiovascular Technologists are responsible for helping get patients all set-up before they begin their medical procedure or evaluation procedure. Part of the set-up process includes helping ensure that the patient is registered in the system for any future monitoring or patient interaction.

In addition, Cardiovascular Technologists are responsible for reviewing their medical history and verifying it’s accuracy, and updating it with any changes that the patient expresses.

It’s important that the patient has an updated medical history to ensure that both the Cardiovascular Technologist and Physician know all of the potential medical concern associated with each patient.

Another important responsibility for Cardiovascular Technologists to do as part of the set-up procedure includes welcoming the patient into the operating room or evaluation room and responding to any questions or concerns that they have. Essentially, Cardiovascular Technologists are in charge of ensuring that the patient is as comfortable as they can be before the procedure or evaluation.

One great way that Cardiovascular Technologists can ensure that the patient is comfortable is to be social and have a normal conversation with them about their interests.

Another important responsibility that Cardiovascular Technologists are in charge of is to help Physicians with a number of different tests. These tests might include treadmill stress tests, cardiograms, gathering baseline heart rates, evaluating patient blood pressure, and evaluating patients as they conduct other exercise tests or activities.

Another core responsibility for Cardiovascular Technologists is to help assist Physicians diagnose and treat various cardiovascular ailments that a patient might be suffering from through invasive procedures like using a catheter or a stent.

In addition, Cardiovascular Technologists are responsible for performing a variety of non-invasive procedures as well. These non-invasive procedures include working with a patient to collect ultrasound echoes around their heart to determine the capacity of the heart’s function, circulation, blood flow, and any blood sacs that might have formed.

Another core responsibility that Cardiovascular Technologists have includes the maintenance of the equipment that is used on a daily basis by both the Physician and Cardiovascular Technologist. This includes the cardiovascular systems and equipment that helps monitor a patient’s status, blood pressure, and heartbeat during a procedure. In addition to this responsibility, Cardiovascular Technologists are responsible for maintaining the equipment, repairing it or requesting repairs for the equipment if necessary from technical experts or engineers.

Cardiovascular Technologists are also responsible for manipulating or adjusting the equipment based on the recommendations from the attending Physician.

Cardiovascular Technologists are also responsible for helping patients with any documentation that they need. This documentation might include some of the patient evaluation paperwork, patient records, medical forms, medical procedure reports, or any other records that might need to be filled out like financial payment information or insurance information.

Another important responsibility for Cardiovascular Technologists is to report any dangerous or hazardous conditions that a patient, physician, or other healthcare professional might be exposed to throughout the procedure or evaluation process.

Cardiovascular Technologists are responsible for troubleshooting any problems that might arise during the evaluation period or medical procedure and taking preventive measures to ensure that no problems arise during any procedure.

Cardiovascular Technologists are also responsible for helping relevant healthcare professionals better serve their community by interacting with them and educating the general public about healthy lifestyle factors, important healthcare policies, and preventive measures that should be taken to reduce their potential exposure to health risks.

In addition, Cardiovascular Technologists are responsible for assisting with any research projects that they might be assisting with. Another important responsibility for Cardiovascular Technologists is to stay up to date with their continuing education credits.

The healthcare industry is a constantly shifting industry, which means that healthcare professionals are asked to know more each year and are required to stay up to date with some of the changing education standards and tools that are used on a daily basis within the industry.

Cardiovascular Technologists are also responsible for educating other healthcare professionals who aren’t as familiar with some of the cardiovascular procedures that could be taken or the ailments that they could be potentially exposed to.

Another key responsibility for Cardiovascular Technologists is that they are responsible for adhering to any standards associated with the safety of others, the hospital policies and procedures, along with federal/state and local requirements.

Cardiovascular Technologists are also responsible for interpreting different test results and sharing those results with other healthcare professionals or medical professionals who are directly involved with the care of the patient they are evaluating the test results for.

Cardiovascular Technologists are responsible for a large number of different tasks in the operating room or patient evaluation process.

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Common Activities On The Job

For those healthcare professionals who are considering a potential career as a Cardiovascular Technologist, there are several common activities you can expect to do each day which will help provide a little bit of insight as to what your daily routine might look like. The following activities will give you a brief glimpse into what it’s like to work as a Cardiovascular Technologist each day.

• Conduct Cardiovascular Tests

The most common activity Cardiovascular Technologists will do on a daily basis revolves around conducting cardiovascular tests. These cardiovascular tests involve the use of phonocardiograms, echocardiograms, electrocardiograms (EKGs), stress tests, and exercise tests to evaluate a patient’s cardiovascular activity.

• Evaluate Patients

Cardiovascular Technologists will spend a large portion of their day directly working with, interacting with, and evaluating patients to determine what their heart ailments are. This includes working directly with the overseeing Physician to determine what the next steps of treatment are, and to determine whether or not additional medical procedures need to be taken to get a better understanding of what is ailing the patient on a vascular scale.

• Work With Technology

Cardiovascular Technologists will also spend a large portion of their day directly interacting with and using medical technology to get better readings on a patient’s blood pressure, heartbeat, and provide vision assistance to Physicians as they guide catheters or stents through the patient.

• Maintain Technology

Cardiovascular Technologists are responsible for making sure that the equipment they use on a daily basis is also well maintained or properly fixed if there seems to be an issue.

• Communicate With Patients

Another important task that Cardiovascular Technologists will do on a daily basis includes communicating effectively with patients. As we mentioned earlier, a lot of the healthcare industry and certain health aspects are unfamiliar to the large majority of patients. This means that Cardiovascular Technologists have to communicate effectively with them to reduce their anxiety, educate them about their condition, and provide guidance about how the future of their care will ultimately develop.

Part of this effective communication with patients and their family members means properly disseminating the information in easy-to-understand terms or examples that don’t overwhelm the patient any more than they already are. This can take quite a bit of practice, but once this technique is learned, it makes a Cardiovascular Technologist’s job a little bit easier.

• Communicate With Other Healthcare Professionals

Part of the other part of communication involves communicating directly with other healthcare professionals. This communication will include the overseeing Physician, as well as other medical professionals who might be directly interacting with the patient or assisting the Physician in some other manner and need to be informed about what is going on or the condition that the patient is in.

• Fill Out Patient Medical Information

Before a patient can be seen or any medical procedure is provided, medical records need to be evaluated and maintained to confirm that the patient is who they say they are, that their condition hasn’t deteriorated or they are suffering from something else.

As a Cardiovascular Technologist, one of the common activities you will be exposed to involves making sure that the patient medical information is correct and that any updates that need to be done are completed.

• Stay Up To Date On Industry Knowledge

Cardiovascular Technologists are responsible for keeping up to date on new healthcare industry trends, career advancements, career evolutions, and more. Part of this involves the completion of continuing education credits or the activity of working towards the completion of these credits on a daily basis to ensure that you are up to date on the current practices associated with the position.

In addition, this will involve staying up to date on how the healthcare industry might grow and change over the course of the future, and ultimately impact your role as a Cardiovascular Technologist.

• Interpret Information

Another important daily activity for Cardiovascular Technologists revolves around interpreting the information that is provided. Healthcare professionals can use all of the technology that they want, but they need to understand the information the technology is providing them with to understand how to improve a patient’s well-being.

Cardiovascular Technologists undergo specific training to help them understand and interpret the information the technology is providing them with.

• Miscellaneous Clerical Duties

Another responsibility and common activity that Cardiovascular Technologists will have on a daily basis includes basic clerical duties like documenting information, recording new information, interacting with computers to upload information or new data, creating computer models based on data, and conversing with other patients or their family members in a clerical fashion.

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Skills

Beyond a strong inclination toward science and the technical, it's important to have a well-rounded skill set when choosing this career path.

Active listening, critical thinking, and patience will go a long way as cardiovascular technologists are faced with many unforeseen problems in their work.

Another critical skill that is vital to succeeding as a Cardiovascular Technologist involves being an effective team member. As we’ve highlighted earlier, the healthcare industry relies on effective teamwork to care for patients and increase the chances that the patient can improve their overall well-being and life a healthy lifestyle.

 

Communication

Must effectively communicate with your co-workers to ensure the best care and the proper procedures. Must be able to communicate in high-stress environments.

Active Listening

Offering your full attention to an individual person or group in order to fully understand problems and their nature.

Critical Thinking

Must use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Judgment and Decision Making

Needs to be able to act autonomously and make difficult decisions that would benefit the patient or make corrections. Must consider all benefits and repercussions of potential actions and choose the appropriate one. 

Complex Problem Solving

Must be able to identify complex problems and develop and evaluate corrective options and implement solutions. 

Stress Management

Must be able to endure intense situations and handle pressure that comes with extreme situations you may encounter.

Trustworthiness

Must be trustworthy because you have people's lives in your hands and what you do could help or hurt them. They are entrusted with a great responsibility and must live up to it. 

Perceptiveness

Gauging how people react and read their body language to decipher their feelings and predict their actions. They must be able to determine if people could be a risk to themselves or others and to distinguish truths from lies.

Time Management

Cardiovascular Technologists have to be excellent time managers to ensure that they stay on a tight schedule and work efficiently to maintain the fast-paced schedule that hospitals and healthcare facilities operate in.

Active Learner

Must be willing to learn on the job daily, and understand the importance of applying new information and technology to solve both current and future problems.

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Working Conditions

 

Cardiovascular technologists usually work a standard five-day, 40-hour week. Most spend their time in a dimly lit room working with diagnostic imaging machinery and taking tests by patient besides.Some weekend duty may be required.

If employed in a catheterization lab, longer work hours may be needed as well as some evening assignments. There may be an assigned rotation for on-call duties during the night, on holidays and weekends.

If you're interested in learning what it takes to become a Cardiovascular Technologist, take the time to review our extensive career path guide on How To Become a Cardiovascular Technologist.

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Salary Outlook

Title Company Location Posted
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