Duties and responsibilities
A cardiac physiologist, or sometimes referred to as a ‘cardiovascular technologist’, is primarily involved in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with heart disease. Their typical duties and responsibilities include:
- Monitoring blood pressure and heartbeat rate to decide if it is safe for a patient to undergo testing
- Carrying out procedures such as echocardiographs (ECG) and cardiac catheterisation
- Using specialised and complex equipment, such as cardiac ultrasound scanners and intra aortic balloon pumps
- Carrying out exercise tolerance tests on patients, using ECG equipment to monitor heart rate while they exercise on a treadmill
- Selecting a suitable pacemaker for a surgeon to insert in a patient and adjusting and fine-tuning the pacemaker once it has been inserted
- Analysing and interpreting data and supplying physiological reports to the cardiologist or surgeon who has to make decisions about the treatment
To become a cardiac physiologist/cardiovascular technologist, you will need a bachelor’s degree in cardiovascular technology, which covers core topics include such as: behavioral science, cardiopulmonary physiology, healthcare management, interpreting electrocardiographs, medical ethics and pathophysiology.
Once cardiac physiologists have graduated college, most employers require them to be certified by either the Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) or American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS), both of which require applicants to complete an accredited educational program and pass a credentialing exam.
Skills and relevant work experience
Cardiac rehabilitation physiologists need to have a genuine passion for helping others and improving their well-being. They will also need skills such as:
- Active listening skills, as they will need to create trusting and open professional relationships with patients
- Verbal and written communication skills, as cardiac rehabilitation physiologists will need to communicate their ideas and plans with their patients and with physicians verbally, and they will need to respond to emails and letters
- Compassion, as cardiac rehabilitation physiologists will work with people who are struggling with their body image and will need to be able to sympathize with them
- Problem solving skills as cardiac rehabilitation physiologists will have to evaluate each client’s level of fitness and readiness to participate in exercise and create appropriate plans for them
Cardiac rehabilitation physiologists tend to work full time, they may also have to work evenings and weekends to fit the needs of their patients.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a cardiovascular technologist in the United States was $56,850 in 2018. The lowest 10% earned less than $29,340 and the highest 10% earned more than $93,100. The largest employers of cardiovascular technologists was general medical and surgical hospitals, closely followed by offices of physicians.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that employment of cardiovascular technologists and technicians is projected to grow by 7% from 2018 to 2028, which is slightly faster than the average for all professions. This growth in employment will likely be seen as a result of the ongoing prevalence of heart disease and the increasing use of sonographic and vascular technology as alternatives to invasive medical procedures.