Technician or Technologist

“The best preparation for tomorrow is to do today’s work superbly well.”
William Osler

After viewing a recent Facebook comment that I loved about this topic it left me with something to think about…

First though, what’s the “technical” difference between the two? Whether it’s in the field of Neurodiagnostics or any other field – it’s education and credentials. For Neurodiagnostics it’s the difference between a Registered Technologist and a non-Registered Technician.

But it seems like it is more than just that…

In general, when we are passionate about what we do, we are proud. Our work is important and it’s important to note that the work it took to obtain our job title is valued…Things that are important to us tend to be things that we love doing.
Knowing that we are adding value and making a difference...

Being passionate about your work means we are always striving to do better. What that looks like for everyone is different but again important.

For a Technician it often means striving to improve their skills and preparing to pass their board exam. For a Technologist it might mean being a mentor for others.

Wherever you are today…let’s add value to our work. Right. Where.We. Are.

Technician’s Code of Ethics

It’s the work you do when no one is watching that determines your success.

It doesn’t matter what industry you are in – it’s your daily commitment that makes the difference in your potential.
It’s the work behind the scenes.

In your EEG lab are you following ABRET’s Code of Ethics? Not sure what they are? Select the link – you need to know them for your EEG boards.

“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” ― C.S. Lewis.

Also, don’t assume no one is watching….your patients notice, your coworkers notice, your future self notices.
There is no shortcut for hard work – it’s your work behind the scenes that can make all the difference!

January Review – Making Progress

“We have never arrived. We are in a constant state of becoming.” – Bob Dylan

We all want to get from “here” to “there” – wherever “there” is for us. For some of us, it’s completing a degree, a new job, a promotion, a pay raise…something we’re working toward….and when we do, it’s something to celebrate.
I love it when I realize I’m standing in a “here” place that used to be a “there” place.

For those of you who’s “there” place is to become Registered this yearthe end of January is a good time to review your progress.

Do you have the Outline for the exam? Do you have study resources? Have you started a binder and/or note cards to organize your material? If not, read back through the earlier January posts on this site:

Your Year to Getting Registered

What’s The Plan

When we get to “there” we often reflect back on all the steps we took – the important part was staying the course through all of it…..It’s endurance that gets us “there”. It’s not luck or a gift or talent. Every step you take today to move you from “here” to “there” is a result of your resilience, your endurance…your grit to stay the course.

In no time, you’ll be celebrating a new “here”!

What’s the Plan?

“A Goal without a Plan is just a Wish.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Did you know in 2018 that 78% of the technicians taking the EEG board exam passed? What’s the best way to make sure you are one of them for this year?

You need a plan – a detailed plan….an outline.

Start here: (https://www.abret.org/candidates/resources/handbooks/)
It’s ABRET’s Handbook for the exam.

The outline includes all the content and references for taking the board exam and it’s the detailed plan that your looking for.

As you begin your preparation, break the outline down by section…list them on your calendar and tackle them one by one.

While digital resources are very helpful for studying and flash cards may seem old-school….they are hands-down the most effective way for students to study and retain the information they are learning.
As tempted as you might be to utilize digital flashcards…don’t. It’s the act of writing them out yourself that enhances the learning.
Flashcards encourage recall and repetition…instead of simply staring at a passage or a concept on a page, they can actively improve your retention of the information.

So put together your Plan A – and if it doesn’t work out…remember the alphabet has 25 more letters.

Just for grins, I included a photo below of my cards from many years ago (but who’s counting : )

Your Year to Getting Registered

“People do not decide their futures. They decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.” – F.M Alexander

Happy New Year!
This new year is different though…it’s not just the start of a new year but it’s the start of a great new decade. A lot can happen in 10 years!

Since the new year is a popular time to set resolutions; for many, working on our financial goals is at the top of the list. The best advice I have for you if you are a technician is to get yourself registered. This is the area where you can have the most impact on tackling that goal.

You might be thinking where will I find the time in my already busy life2 quick tips:

1 – Wake up early EVERY day – for some of the most successful people, waking up early is the key to their success. (note the opening habits quote – read that again)
2 – Pair down your social media time – it’s no surprise that social media has become a huge part of our lives and sadly, it’s responsible for thousands of wasted hours.

Start taking small steps to work on your goal to becoming registered:

1 – Read – There are a lot of good technical books out there but my go to recommended book for my students is Fisch and Spehlmann’s EEG Primer: Basic Principals of Digital and Analog EEG.

2 – Move – Make it a habit to get out of your EEG or Sleep lab daily. Talk with your doctors….ask them about their patients. Your doctors are going to be your best teachers. If you don’t work in an area where your doctors are available; read the physician reports on the tests you run. Did you see what they saw?

3 – Connect – Access productive Neurodiagnostic sites that are going to support you in your goal. Reach out to other technicians that are already registered for advice and support.

and lastly,

4 – Join – Look for a way to build your study resources. On-line courses, trainers, tutors…they will all support you in your goal to becoming registered.

Remember…small steps.
You might feel overwhelmed to do them all at once…commit to making 1 change a week. The goal is to add new habits to prepare yourself for taking the board exam this new year.

It’s a New Year of possibilities! Are you ready?

New Ambulatory Video EEG Codes in a Nutshell

Some things to think about if your EEG lab offers Ambulatory testing…

With the new Long Term Video EEG monitoring coding guidelines going into effect in 2020 EEG labs now have 3 different levels of testing to offer:

1 – Monitored
2 – Intermittently Monitored
3 – and Un-Monitored

The Un-Monitored option is the one that is most like the current model of Ambulatory VEEG monitoring – patient is set up in the lab, patient goes home with the recording, patient returns to the lab after 1, 2 or 3 days, and then the data is reviewed in a timely manner and a Physician report is generated.

This option is still available with the following new codes:

95700 – Set Up Charge (1 per test)
95714 – times the Number of Days (Technical Charge)
95720 – Professional Reading code for a 24 hour
95722 – Professional Reading code for a 48 hour
95724 – Professional Reading code for a 72 hour

However; if a lab would like to offer the next tier of monitoring for their Ambulatory studies and meet the Intermittent Monitoring guidelines, some new (and challenging) processes would need to be put in place.

The Intermittent Monitoring requires a technician to view the data live for 10 minutes every 2 hours. It also requires the Physician to review each day’s recording and place a report in the patient’s electronic medical record before each 24 hours is complete.

This creates a whole host of challenges when converting from how Ambulatory studies have typically been done to the new Intermittent Monitoring.

What does Intermittent Monitoring look like:
1 – First, you have to be sure you have a system that allows for remote monitoring (many EEG labs would need to purchase new equipment).
2 – An Ambulatory Day would be set – for example, 2pm – 2pm
3 – The technician on-call would contact the patient 2 hours after the recording starts to plug the head box into the remote recording device (most likely a tablet); then the technician logs on to view for at least 10 min and then the patient unplugs the head box.
4 – Repeat every 2 hours.
5 – At bedtime instruct the patient to plug the head box in and leave it plugged in until they wake up.
6 – 2 hours prior to the end of the daily recording a REEGT technologist would log on and upload the study to prune it for the physician or the physician would review the entire day after a technician uploads it.
7 – The physician generates a report for the medical record before 2pm
8 – Repeat all steps again for a 48 hour study or repeat two more times for a 72 hour study.

What do EEG Labs need to have in place to do Intermittent Monitoring:
1 – They need to own equipment that has remote viewing capabilities.
2 – Devices need to have an Internet Plan and a paid remote viewing software plan like TeamViewer installed (personal plans are free but business plans require paid plans).
3 – A technician call rotation should be established.
4 – Determine which physician is going to read and report on the daily monitoring (an on-call doctor or the referring doctor).
5 – On call pay, Night differential, Weekend differential for technical staff should be set if it is not already in place.

As you can see this is a big difference for how this test has typically been done…whether it is worth it to make this jump in cost and staffing is up to each lab (not to mention the inconvenience to our patients that are already sometimes challenged just to change batteries and keep themselves on camera).

If you choose to do Intermittent Monitoring, this is what your codes would look like:
95700 – Set Up Charge (1 per test)
95715 – times the Number of Days (Technical Charge)
97720 – times the Number of Days (Professional Reading code)

For the third level of codes – Monitored (Continuously at a 1 – 4 tech to patient ratio)….these are not intended for Ambulatory studies. These codes logically would be used for inpatient hospital monitoring units.

Would love to hear how your lab is adjusting to the new codes!
Comment below or send me an email @ RTompkins@TompkinsAssociates.com

Curious about the new coding changes for Ambulatory EEG’s in 2020?

The Natus Neuro Training Academy will host a free webinar this Monday, December 16th at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time – it plans to review the new coding changes that go into effect January 1, 2020 for Ambulatory EEG studies. Click the link below to register and join the E-Seminar on Monday to be in the know:

EEG Coding Changes E-Seminar

Do I have to go to a technical school to get into this field?

There are a variety of ways someone could enter this field and it is truly up to the person for how successful they are in the process.

Technical schools will provide a built in curriculum for learning and will encourage you to set aside time for studying. They’ll also provide resources to help you prepare for the board exam and could possibly provide connections for future job opportunities. Many students often complete the program with an Associates degree and are then ready to sit for a board exam. Some challenges are that there may not be a program in your area; also often these programs are full time and make working to support yourself in the interim kind of challenging….they can also be expensive.

An alternative If you are a self motivated learner is you could enter into this field through training on the job or through a trainer. There are a variety of on-line courses as well to supplement your learning. Contact a local hospital or neurology practice to request to shadow in their EEG or sleep lab. Ask technicians in your area how they got into the field and/or see if there is a trainer in your area. Once you have found a lab willing to let you shadow, supplement their training with some of the many online courses available. Then also work to complete at a minimum an Associates degree so that when you are ready to take the board exam you don’t have to request an exemption.

Bottom line, a technical school is not required….there are definite advantages but it’s not the only way in.

So you want to know more about Neurodiagnostics?

Maybe you’re a technician working in the field or a student wanting to enter the field…Maybe you want to take the board exam or you are already registered.

Perhaps you are Supervisor, but you’re not a technician and you want to know more…whatever your role is; I hope to help provide training tips, board prep information, workplace motivational mantras, and other details to both encourage you and help you as you go along your journey.

A little about me….

I entered into this field as part of an internship during graduate school and found a career that I have made my own. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from James Madison University in Virginia and a Master’s Degree in Applied Cognition and Neuroscience from the University of Texas at Dallas. After being the Neurophysiology Clinical Manager at a large pediatric hospital in Dallas for 9 years, I started my own business providing testing and training services in 2007.
With over 25 years of experience I look forward to sharing all things neurodiagnostic with you and hopefully getting to know you as well.

I would love to hear from you…comments and questions are welcomed.
Please take a moment to reach out and introduce yourself.

Let’s Find Your Niche.

First Blog Post

Be yourself…Everyone else is already taken.  – Oscar Wilde

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