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Neuroelectrophysiology Technologist


Neuroelectrophysiology technology is the medical field devoted to testing the function of the central and peripheral nervous systems. Neuroelectrophysiology technologists use sensitive electronic equipment, such as EEGs and EMGs, to record and evaluate the electrical activity of patients' nervous systems to assist physicians in diagnosing diseases, injuries and abnormalities. This specialized diagnostic equipment records and evaluates the electrical activity of the brain and nerves, and electrical activity resulting from stimulation of sensory pathways.

Neuroelectrophysiology technologists use a variety of techniques, equipment, and computer displays to perform their job. Neuroelectrophysiology technology most commonly uses the diagnostic testing procedures of an EEG, which measures the ongoing electrical activity of the brain. For example, they perform EEGs on patients in the middle of a partial seizure, allowing the doctor to pinpoint the area where the seizures occur. Other tests they use are the evoked potential (EP), the polysomnogram (PSG), the electromyogram (EMG), the electronystagmogram (ENG) and the nerve conduction study (NCS).

When the patient is ready, the technologist briefs them about the procedure, to help reassure them and to discuss any questions or uncertainties regarding it. The patient must give consent in order to begin the testing and then the neuroelectrophysiology technologist records their medical history. The technologist may help position the patient and assist in obtaining relaxation or cooperation for the examination.

During the test, the technologist will monitor the patient and help write a report. The report must identify the problem, include a tabulation of the values obtained during the study, a statement of normality or abnormality, conclusions and the signature of an electroneurophysiologist. The technologist is not allowed to give results to the patient, no matter how much they beg for them. That part is up to the physician who is licensed to give diagnoses and treatment suggestions.

A competent neuroelectrophysiology technologist knows the nervous system and knows how to operate sophisticated instruments. Nerve conduction studies and EMG can also play a very important role in the diagnosis and management of patients with a wide variety of neuromuscular problems. However, technologists and physicians must work with extreme care and an eye for detail as the tests have the potential to produce misleading information if careful consideration is not given to certain technical and biological variables.
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  Interests and Skills  
Neuroelectrophysiology technologists are interested in helping people with brain and muscle disorders. They must be mature, self-confident and emotionally stable. They have excellent communication skills and can get along with people well. Also, they have a great deal of patience and can instill confidence in patients. Confidence is also important in being able to think and act quickly in high stress situations. Finally, neuroelectrophysiology technologists should enjoy finding solutions to problems and constantly dealing with people.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Prepare patients for neurodiagnostic testing by explaining the procedure
  • Obtain medical history information pertinent to the interpretation of test results
  • Attach electrodes to predetermined, measured locations on the patient's head and other parts of the body
  • Operate neurodiagnostic testing equipment to record brain activity
  • Observe and monitor patient's brain activity
  • Prepare final test results for interpretation by physicians
  • Maintain and clean equipment
  • Facilitate communication among health care professionals, such as biomedical engineering staff, physicians and nurses
  • Neuroelectrophysiology technologists work either shifts or standard weekday hours and are sometimes on call evenings and weekends. Much of their time is spent on their feet and they may be required to do some bending and lifting to help very ill patients. In some circumstances, neuroelectrophysiology technologists may move equipment on portable carts to patients' bedsides in wards, intensive care units and operating rooms.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Neuroelectrophysiology technologists work in acute care hospitals, private clinics, research labs, physician's offices, university medical centers and specialized facilities such as epilepsy and sleep centers.

  Long Term Career Potential  
What does the future hold for neuroelectrophysiology technologists? Registered neuroelectrophysiology technologists may take qualifying examinations in special areas such as EEG or ambulatory monitoring to change the focus of their career as a technologist. With experience, they may advance to become clinical specialists or supervisors. However, without additional education, opportunities for advancement are limited.

  Educational Paths  
Neuroelectrophysiology technologists must complete of a two-year college, hospital or alternative training program in ENP and cardiology technology coupled with a supervised practical training internship.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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