A cardiac physiologist is a job title unique to the health care system in the United Kingdom and Australia. The position is referred to as a cardiovascular technician in the United States. A cardiac physiologist or technician provides the essential functions of completing heart diagnostic tests on a patient for a cardiologist.
Cardiac physiologists or cardiac technologists carry out crucial diagnostic and analytical procedures for patients with known or suspected heart problems. Cardiac physiologists work as part of a team, consisting of cardiologists, doctors and nurses in providing care, diagnosis and treatment of heart patients. Cardiologists rely on cardiac physiologists or technologists to perform heart diagnostic tests, such as EKGs, echo-cardiograms and heart exercise/stress tests and report the findings to them for interpretation and diagnosis.
Cardiac physiologists also assist with pacemaker implantation and provide the hospital follow-up care of the patient to ensure that a pacemaker is functioning correctly.
Cardiac physiologists or technologists work in the hospital cardiology department. From this department, they are called to perform tests and tasks in other hospital departments where the patient is in need of heart testing or monitoring, such as surgery, surgery recovery, labour and delivery, the neonatal intensive care unit and emergency.
In addition to hospitals, cardiac physiologists also find employment in cardiologist offices, outpatient surgery centres, and as independent contractors performing heart stress tests in general practitioner offices.
Cardiac physiologists or cardiac technicians must complete a two-year associate's degree at a community college, university or licensed technical school. Although not required, candidates with a four-year degree are in greater demand and receive higher starting salaries. It is also recommended that a cardiac technician have prior medical work experience and receive on-the-job clinical rotations.
Additionally, employers may require cardiac technicians to be credentialed. Credentialing for cardiovascular technologists is available from Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) and the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS). Most credentials require that technologists complete an accredited education program to qualify to sit for credentialing examination.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wages of cardiovascular technologists and technicians in 2008, were £30,556 The median annual wages of cardiovascular technologists and technicians were £31,583 in offices of physicians and £30,335 in general medical and surgical hospitals.
Employment of cardiovascular technicians is expected to increase up to 24 per cent from 2008 to 2018 in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is much faster than the average for all occupations. Demand is expected to increase based on the increase in population, the ageing population and the higher occurrence of heart disease and other heart conditions. Due to advances in medicine and greater public awareness, signs of vascular disease can be detected earlier, creating demand for cardiovascular technologists and technicians to perform various procedures.