Skills Cardiovascular Technologist in Canada

Find out what skills you typically need to work as a cardiovascular technologist in Canada. These skills are applicable to all Cardiology technologists and electrophysiological diagnostic technologists, n.e.c. (NOC 3217).


People working in this occupation usually apply the following skill set.

  • Take notes on the recorded graph to identify interference
  • Prepare recordings and reports of findings for physicians
  • Operate electromyography and diagnostic equipment
  • Review patient's case history and assess nature of problem to determine procedures and tests required
  • Reprogram pacemakers according to required standards
  • Monitor cardiac activity and record results
  • Operate electrocardiographs, cardiac ultrasound and other electronic equipment
  • Prepare reports for interpretation by cardiologists
  • Perform cardiovascular procedures and tests

Skills and knowledge

The following skills and knowledge are usually required in this occupation.

Essential skills

See how the 9 essential skills apply to this occupation. This section will be updated soon.

  • Read agendas for conferences they may attend to identify presentations relevant to their particular areas of expertise. (1)
  • Read physicians' and other technologists' notes on requisition forms describing patients' histories, medications and diagnostic assessment requirements. (2)
  • Read memos and e-mail from other technologists, unit managers and supervisors describing changes to departmental policies and providing information about patient care. (2)
  • May read the comments on completed patient questionnaires describing various symptoms before administering evoked potential tests. For example, they may review patients' symptoms prior to completing carpal tunnel evoked potential tests to determine where best to place the electrodes. (2)
  • Read journal articles to keep abreast of new technologies and recent developments in examination protocols. For example, technologists working in general electroencephalographic (EEG) units may review articles describing new procedures for patients with epilepsy. Others working in sleep study laboratories may read information about new diagnostic procedures and treatments for sleep disorders. (2)
  • Read comments on patients' charts. For example, they may review the comments to determine if there are contraindications or special precautions to consider when performing examinations on patients with heart conditions. (3)
  • Read comprehensive emergency room reports from attending physicians or neurologists. For example, they may review reports of patients experiencing severe, debilitating headaches and frequent seizures. These reports describe the tests requisitioned by physicians in emergency situations and the changes they must look for during the observation phases of EEG. (3)
  • Read lengthy and complex textbooks that contain research theory and scoring criteria for EEG recordings. For example, technologists working in sleep study laboratories may refer to sections of textbooks to find information about scoring criteria when analyzing patients' sleep data. (3)
  • Read technical manuals describing testing procedures. For example, they may read about the proper methods for attaching EEG electrodes to patients using the international '10-20 system' to set up data recording systems. (3)
  • Read multi-page case histories for children admitted to hospitals. For example, they may review notes about patients' symptoms compiled by physicians and comments about test results to better understand patients' medical problems prior to performing diagnostic testing. (3)
Document use
  • Scan file labels for patients' contact information, dates of birth and identification numbers. (1)
  • Read labels on containers of disinfectant to determine the concentrations needed to sanitize EEG contacts, the required soaking times and the types of organisms controlled by the disinfectants. (1)
  • Locate specific neurodiagnostic or general medical terminology in medical dictionaries. (1)
  • Locate names and room numbers on daily schedules posted in common work areas to find patients and other technologists. (1)
  • Enter a variety of data into tables and spreadsheets. For example, they collect and tabulate data describing types of procedures completed on individuals diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, their ages and other physical characteristics. (2)
  • Plot graphs for data such as oxygen saturation levels, sleep stages, body positions and periodic limb movements. (2)
  • Interpret diagrams in equipment manuals that depict user interfaces for EEG and electromyography (EMG) software programs. For example, they may decipher these diagrams to locate programs' feature sets, functionalities and shortcuts. (2)
  • May examine waveform plots in EEG, ambulatory electrocardiography (EKG) logs and synopses forms and Holter monitor diary sheets. For example, those working in general EEG may examine results of an evoked potential test for multiple sclerosis patients that show the time it takes for a stimulation to reach target muscles. Technologists working in EKG may examine Holter monitor diary sheets. (2)
  • Help patients to fill in questionnaires before beginning an examination. For example, they may help patients suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome write answers to questions and note where they are experiencing numbness or tingling. (2)
  • Enter EEG test data into work sheets and test result forms. For example, they enter test data in on-screen forms to indicate patients' activity levels. They also enter technical setup data and summaries of their impressions of testing sessions on work sheets. (3)
  • Review magnetic resonance imaging and computerized tomography scans for patients with atypical EEG readings. They may adjust the scale on EEG charts to view colour-coded waveforms more easily and make comparisons between groups of waveforms to identify details of amplitude, latency, units and event markers. (3)
  • Take test data from sleep reports. They read the forms for data on patients' sleep patterns and stages, periodic limb movements, respiration and other pertinent data. (3)
  • May examine functional mappings of the speech and motor control of patients during brain surgery to direct physicians to the correct area to remove lesions and locate damaged nerves. They place electrodes directly to areas of the brain cortex and apply electrical stimuli to evoke desired potentials in patients¿ speech and movement. This electrical stimulation mapping identifies areas responsible for speech and motor control. (4)
  • Write short e-mail to physicians, clerical staff and professional colleagues to offer and request information about patients' examination schedules, test results and reference materials. (1)
  • Write notes in patients' files to record information obtained during interviews or examination setup phases. For example, they record information such as amount of caffeine ingested, medications taken prior to the tests and the amount of sleep patients have had in the past day. (2)
  • Write instructions for other technologists in their departments or workplaces. For example, they may write a number of tasks for staff to complete before leaving for vacation. (2)
  • Write procedures for co-workers describing the variables of correct examinations and outlining how to troubleshoot or diagnose equipment faults and malfunctions. They write the instructions and suggest when to call biomedical technologists or information services technicians in the event of equipment malfunctions. (3)
  • Write reports to summarize and explain test data to referring physicians or neurologists. They describe patients' conditions and make recommendations for treatments. (3)
  • Write letters to physicians, clerical staff, workplace administrators and other colleagues. They may write letters to financial supervisors and facility administrators requesting additional funding or resource allocation to their particular neuroelectrodiagnostic specialties. They outline their justifications for hiring new technologists, buying new diagnostic equipment, creating in-service opportunities for technologists or using space in the new department. They include statistics from their 'balance scorecard' or relevant patient and workload data and write in a persuasive manner. (3)
  • May write lengthy scientific research articles containing densely worded text, statistical analyses and figures. They may author original articles for submission to peer-reviewed journals or professional publications. (4)
NumeracyMoney Math
  • Total travel, meal and accommodation expenses on expense forms when they attend conferences or other work-related events. (1)
  • Verify the accuracy of supplier invoices. They check quantities, prices, taxes and totals before approving the invoices for payment. (2)
  • May order new diagnostic supplies and machines for the EEG department, translating the costs from American to Canadian funds and calculating applicable taxes. (3)
Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • May schedule shifts for technologists working in their units. They schedule appointments considering physicians' requests, urgency of examinations and balance workloads to ensure overtime hours are kept to a minimum. (2)
  • May monitor their departments' expenditures to ensure they remain within budgets. (2)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Total hours and overtime worked by other technologists. (1)
  • Measure patients' heads using a tape and use the standard '10-20 system' of electrode placement to apply them correctly for EEG. (1)
  • Calculate medication dosages. For example, they may calculate the amount of sedative to administer to agitated patients at the rate of fifty milligrams per kilogram of body weight. (2)
  • Measure levels of stimuli in neuroelectrical tests and the electrical resistance to reduce discomfort to patients with lower pain thresholds like pediatric or elderly patients. (2)
  • Use specialized equipment to take a variety of EEG, EMG and other neuroelectrical measurements. For example, they may measure distances between nerves and stimuli, speeds of nerve conduction and blood velocities, pressures and oxygen saturation levels. Those working in sleep study labs may also measure patients' sleep disturbances, nerve damages, breathing rates, brain activity, muscle stimuli, rapid eye and leg movements. (3)
Data Analysis Math
  • Analyze patient statistics including total number of examinations completed over a period of time and types of examinations completed to track and report diagnostic trends or occurrences of similar pathologies. (2)
  • Compare neurodiagnostic examination results to norms for each measurement parameter. For example, technologists may compare the number of leg movements over a period of time or the lengths of respiratory events to standard ranges for similar patients. (2)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate the size of electrodes required for tests. (1)
  • Estimate the times needed for neurodiagnostic examinations, considering the types of procedures needed and patients' demeanours. (2)
  • Estimate the relative amplitudes of waveform events compared to others. For example, a technologist may estimate that one waveform was four times larger than the previous one. (2)
  • Estimate levels of interference during EEG to ensure data accuracy. The interference, or 'noise,' is caused by simultaneous recordings including electro-oculography and EMG recordings. (2)
Oral communication
  • Talk to clerical staff about appointments, unusual patients, examinations, referrals from neurologists and similar job-specific matters. (1)
  • Call other technologists on duty, biomedical engineers, information services technicians and equipment manufacturers to service various neurodiagnostic machines when they are unable to quickly troubleshoot equipment faults. (2)
  • Greet patients and their family to build a good rapport with patients prior to examining them. This is especially important with children, who often require encouragement and some entertaining. (2)
  • Discuss co-workers' performances with managers and supervisors during annual performance and peer-review sessions. They provide information about their co-workers' work styles, promptness, teamwork and treatment of patients. (3)
  • May comfort patients who are frightened or upset during neurodiagnostic procedures. They use specific terminology and plain language to explain procedures and coach them through test procedures that may be painful. For example, technologists calmly explain exactly what is happening, notify patients and family members how much longer the tests will take, ensure they are put at ease and motivate them to complete the tests with minimal resistance. (3)
  • Discuss patients' testing procedures during meetings with other neurodiagnostic technologists or general physicians. For example, technologists may speak to physicians about patients with dementia or prone to severe seizures. (3)
  • May present patients' cases to co-workers during in-service sessions. For example, technologists may present details of the patients' histories, tests and their results. If data from previous tests is available, they present the changes that have occurred between testing sessions. (3)
  • Seek advice from co-workers, managers and other experts to better understand and gain experience with patients' health conditions and pathologies. For example, they may talk with sleep lab technicians to discuss applications of complex and detailed criteria to score sleep data that may be difficult to characterize, and speak to professional colleagues at other hospitals, clinics and sleep labs to discuss detailed and complex uses of neurodiagnostic technology and how to apply it to a variety of patient cases. (3)
  • Offer observations and assistance to neurosurgeons during orthopaedic surgeries. For example, they may inform surgeons that the probe has been too deeply placed when tracking sensory nerves when applying high-voltage stimuli directly to the brain to incite response from a patient's ankle. In such cases, technologists listen carefully to accurately record neurosurgeons' remarks. (4)
ThinkingProblem Solving
  • Notice that EEG waveforms look flat or unresponsive during testing sessions. They investigate electrodes associated with problematic waveform readouts on the monitor and discover they are not properly affixed to the patient. They re-attach the electrodes and verify that they are transmitting a strong, responsive signal. (1)
  • Are unable to place contacts or probes in the usual positions because of wounds or other anomalies. They place the contacts or probes as close as possible to ideal positions without causing pain to patients. (1)
  • May receive telephone calls from staff who are sick and unable to work. They call full-time and casual staff to fill the shift. If they are unable to fill the shift, they reschedule appointments and reorganize their own work schedules to cover the extra work. (2)
  • Discover that testing equipment is not functioning properly during examinations. They first check policy or occurrence manuals to compare similar malfunctions that have occurred in the past on the same machines . If clear troubleshooting protocols are not available, they call biomedical engineers and information services staff. (2)
  • May be notified by biomedical engineers and information services staff that neurodiagnostic equipment they have scheduled to use for examinations is unavailable due to malfunction. They must secure operational equipment, review patient schedules and determine if they can all be examined by working overtime. (2)
  • Cannot immediately and safely complete examinations because patients are isolated under contagious disease quarantine. Because they are unprepared, technologists must locate and put on protective clothing, gloves and masks and ask for assistance from other technologists or attending nurses before administering tests. (2)
  • Encounter patients that will not fall asleep for sleep tests during demanding daily schedules. Because they often schedule patients based on examination time averages and may have to complete other procedures, they may play soft music, further darken examination rooms or have patients hyperventilate to aid their sleep. They may have to assign alternate technologists to waiting patients. (3)
  • Attempt to complete examinations on patients that are uncooperative or try to manage concerned family members. For example, they may sedate patients, ask other staff or patients to administer it themselves or may stop the procedure. They also deal with emotional and demanding family members who constantly ask questions about the normalcy of waveform activity observed during a test by explaining that the data is in its raw form and must be averaged to determine the overall results of the test. They tell family members that they are not authorized to provide diagnostic feedback to patients and their families. (3)
  • Discover patients' behaviours or measurements are abnormal. For example, they may interpret recordings, identify cardiac arrhythmia in patients and call the referring physician to report the situation. They receive directions on how to continue with the testing. (3)
  • Find that patients' test data is abnormal. For example, technologists may discover that oximeters were not placed on patients' fingers during sleep tests or that patients were under the influence of prescribed medication during EEGs. They consult physicians and neurologists to determine if it is advisable to re-test patients when it is discovered that testing protocols were not followed during initial examinations. (3)
Decision Making
  • Decide to cancel appointments for technologists that are called away on emergencies or ask patients to be tolerant and wait. (2)
  • Decide to sedate patients before examinations or to complete examinations without sedation. They base decisions on patients' medical histories, apprehension levels, side effects of sedation and the urgency of the requested tests. (2)
  • Decide to complete additional detailed research to defend their diagnoses to physicians or redo tests when their results are challenged. For example, they may review waveforms collected from patients during evoked potential tests to verify that their decisions were appropriate given the patient's health condition and the equipment settings that were used during the tests or redo the tests to ensure the results are accurate. (2)
  • Decide how best to affix electrodes to patients prior to examinations. For example, they may use paste or glue to apply them on patients that are sweating or prone to violent seizures. Glue is harder to remove but if contacts become unattached during tests, the results will be adversely affected. (2)
  • Decide when to alert surgeons to a change in physiological activity that they observe in patients undergoing surgery. They monitor test data on computer screens and identify changes in characteristics of wave amplitude, synchronicity and latency of events. If they believe that any of the changes in waveforms' characteristics indicate that the patients' sensory systems are being affected by the surgery, they alert the surgeons. (3)
  • Decide when to alert surgeons to a change in physiological activity that they observe in patients undergoing surgery. They monitor test data on computer screens and identify changes in characteristics of wave amplitude, synchronicity and latency of events. If they believe that any of the changes in waveforms' characteristics indicate that the patients' sensory systems are being affected by the surgery, they alert the surgeons. (3)
  • Decide to request back-up if necessary in the examination room when testing psychotic or violent patients who have made accusations of impropriety against staff in the past. In some situations, the technologist's gender is not the same as that of the patient. (3)
Critical Thinking
  • Evaluate the condition of patients before beginning examinations. They assess patients' medical histories, may take EMG readings and examine any trauma areas, injuries or lesions on patients' skulls. (2)
  • May evaluate the economic suitability of purchasing new neurodiagnostic machines for the department. For example, they may evaluate the equipment's ability to perform examinations and procedures more quickly, based on the number of patients waiting for tests, assess the cost-benefits of the new machines to the hospital and the potential for increased staff productivity. (2)
  • May evaluate methods of ensuring patient co-operation from those who must undergo uncomfortable nerve conduction tests. They consider the patients' ages, determine if they are restless or panicky, if they can be distracted by toys, stories or sympathetic tone of voice and evaluate the benefits and risks involved in using sedatives. (2)
  • Assess the level of personal risk and the requirements of performing tests on infectious patients. They consider if infections can be transmitted through contact or is airborne, if masks, gowns and gloves are necessary, and the steps required to disinfect neurodiagnostic machines after the tests. (2)
  • Evaluate the rationality and completeness of doctors' orders and the need to call referring physicians to clarify tests to be performed on patients. They consider physicians' comments and the patients' feedback about why they have been referred for testing. If technologists believe that physicians may have overlooked the addition of critical tests, they call them to clarify test requirements. (2)
  • Evaluate patient reports to attach priority labels based on the urgency of the results. For example, they may mark reports and send them out as 'stat', or 'at top priority', to referring physicians. Technologists base their decisions on patients' medical histories, the types of pathologies and changes that have occurred since the last examination. (2)
  • Evaluate the suitability of all diagnostic testing procedures. For example, they work with physicians to interpret the results of patients' tests, consider the severity of their health conditions that can be diagnosed through the present data, determine if further testing would provide more insight into the pathologies, assess the types of tests they should perform and what equipment settings should be used to conduct them. (3)
  • Evaluate the risks to patients of initiating normal testing procedures in those with adverse health conditions. For example, they may assess the safety of completing the normal procedures of having patients hyperventilate during an EEG or evoked potential tests when patients have existing heart conditions. They examine their records of EKGs looking for signs of problems with pre-ventricular contractions or abnormal heartbeats and consider their ages and weights. (3)
  • Evaluate the accuracy of EEG examination results that indicate abnormal and rare conditions or pathologies. For example, they may review results that seem to indicate patients are suffering from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of "Mad Cow" disease. Technologists must review and assess testing criteria, patient histories, proper equipment functions and behavioural indicators to determine if the recordings are accurate. (3)
  • Assess risks to patients having seizures during EEG tests. Technologists consider the length of time and intensity of the seizures, if they should call doctors to minimize the danger of injuries to patients, or if they should allow seizures to continue and gain the clinical value of observing seizures while recording the results of the test. (3)
Job Task Planning and Organizing

Own Job Planning and Organizing

Electroencephalographic and Other Diagnostic Technologists schedule their own daily work activities but must be prepared to modify these schedules as unexpected events occur. They must also coordinate their schedule and consult other workplace staff to properly and effectively provide EEG, EMG, evoked potential, sleep and other neurodiagnostic test results.

Planning and Organizing for Others

Electroencephalographic and other diagnostic technologists who are supervisors may be responsible for planning other technologists' work shifts and schedules, while tracking electroneurodiagnostic patient load, unit or departmental budgets and completing their own neurodiagnostic testing tasks. They may assign tasks to other technologists based on the priority of the work and co-workers' abilities or training, and may be responsible for training, task assignments and evaluation of work performance.

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember normal neurodiagnostic testing values for general assessments and comparisons of patients' values. They remember any preset values or factors that require programming or have been previously programmed into neurodiagnostic equipment.
  • Remember correct procedures and protocols to follow for diagnostic tests for which they are responsible.
  • Remember past troubleshooting steps and solutions for recurring malfunctions of diagnostic machines.
  • Remember special circumstances and details that patients provide during examination setup phases or special circumstances experienced during patients' examinations so that they or other staff can record the details in patients' files at a later time.
Finding Information
  • Access previously performed EEG test results, reports, waveforms and patients' information from directories on network servers, intranets or internal databases. (2)
  • Search Internet sites and professional journals for information on new drugs. (2)
  • Refer to professional journals and other academic publications to find international scoring criteria for leg movements, snoring, sleep stages and respiratory events. (2)
  • Discover patients' medical histories by asking questions before and during a neurodiagnostic examinations. (2)
  • Find solutions to electrical and electronics engineering problems by finding, reading and synthesizing research reports in journals, technical reports and the Internet. They interpret the results and apply relevant findings to develop innovation solutions. (4)
Digital technology
  • Use communications software. For example, they use Outlook to send and receive e-mail. (1)
  • Use word processing. For example, they use Word to write patient reports for referring physicians and record testing protocols for other technologists. (2)
  • Use graphics software. For example, they may use PowerPoint to format and prepare slide presentations creating titles, backgrounds, logos and inserting images of EEG and EMG waveforms into slides. (2)
  • Use databases. For example, they use queries to view EEG and other neurodiagnostic test data stored on Picture Archiving Communication Systems (PACS), servers enabled through internal databases or database programs like Access. (2)
  • Use spreadsheet software. For example, they use Excel to create patient data sheets and enter data requested for audits. (2)
  • Use the Internet. For example, they use web browsers to find medical information about neurodiagnostic pathologies like carpal tunnel syndrome, epilepsy or Multiple Sclerosis (MS). (2)
  • Use other software. For example, they use manufacturer-specific customized computer software programs to record EEG and EMG waveforms using several presets and features. (3)
  • Use other software. For example, they may use SandMan software to score EEG data during sleep testing. They score approximately 1 000 screens of data for patients under several characteristics, viewing the data in time segments and correlating the occurrence of multiple characteristics that happen within similar time frames. (3)
Additional informationOther Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Electroencephalographic and other diagnostic technologists work alone and independently in most job contexts, but their job tasks are often co-ordinated with the larger health care team that includes not only the clerical staff, other EEG and diagnostic technologists and physicians working in their unit or department, but the total staff of the clinic, hospital or laboratory. Electroencephalographic and other diagnostic technologists often work alone when completing neurodiagnostic examinations, but may also work with a partner or helper to complete certain types of examinations that require another person. Those working as supervisors constantly co-ordinate their work with their employees when creating work schedules, supervising and evaluating job performance, and managing resources. (3)

Continuous Learning

Electroencephalographic and other diagnostic technologists need to frequently upgrade their skills and knowledge through various continuous learning opportunities. They learn through mandatory re-certification training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid offered by the workplace, by reading professional journal articles and books and researching trends on the Internet. Although they are usually not required by their workplace or the professional association to participate in formal continuous learning, those working in provinces regulated by a professional college or society, must demonstrate participation in learning opportunities and maintain a number of continuous learning credit hours. Registration in each of the two main disciplines of the profession (EEG and EMG) and continual upgrading in their areas of specialty are required to stay abreast of developments and trends.

Electroencephalographic and other diagnostic technologists are responsible for locating educational opportunities of interest for themselves and sometimes other co-workers and requesting partial or full educational sponsorship from the workplace budget allocation. Like many health professions, their field continues to evolve and change due to technological advances so they need to keep up with the pace of advancement. (3)

Labour Market Information Survey
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