EKG and ECG are the same thing – the electrocardiogram. When it was invented, a German named it EKG because it was spelled with a K in German. In the USA in the past couple of decades, it is being spelled ECG more and more often. If you are thinking of becoming an EKG technician then you should do some EKG practice to keep your skills sharp. When you have your EKG certification test then you will be ready. You don’t need a machine to practice, you can practice online reading the practice EKG strips.
What is an EKG?
An EKG is a machine that shows what the heart is doing. This is a painless test with electrodes that are glued to the skin. The electrodes pick up sounds from the heart and prints out the pattern of heart beats on a strip of paper. The EKG Technician reads those strips and can see if there are problems with the heart’s beat.
An EKG machine will register the patient’s heart beat rate and whether the heart’s beating is irregular or steady. The EKG will also register the strength of electrical signals as they go through the patient’s heart. If the patient has had a heart attack in the past or is currently having a heart attack, scar tissue forms in the heart and it will affect the way the heart beat sounds. There will be indications of prior heart attacks on the EKG print out.
The EKG will show when there is a valve problem with the heart, a congenital defect such as a hole in the heart, lack of blood flow to the heart, a heart that doesn’t pump hard enough to get a good blood flow and when the heart is enlarged. Each of these problems will show up in certain patterns on the strip that is printed out of the EKG machine.
When a Patient Should Have an EKG
A physician might order an EKG test when their patient is having chest pain or an irregular heartbeat. Or sometimes symptoms of difficulty breathing, unusual tiredness or weakness will also cause the physician to order an EKG test for the patient. This will help the doctor rule out congestive heart failure, arrhythmia or other heart problems.
Different Types of EKGs
The EKG most people think of is the resting, 12-lead EKG. That is used when the patient is lying down and the leads are glued to the patient’s chest. The patient doesn’t do anything while the machine is running. This test will show any problem that is happening at that moment and it will also show scar tissue from prior heart attacks.
The Stress Test EKG is an EKG that is done while the patient is working hard. This is to show what happens to the heart when it is under a great deal of stress. If the patient cannot physically work hard during the test then medication is given which will make the heart work very hard.
A Holter Monitor and an Event Monitor are small EKG devices that are worn for 24-48 hours. This gives the physician a better picture of what happens during the patient’s normal day to day life. This type of test is ordered when the patient is complaining of a heart problem that happens now and then instead of a problem that happens all the time. With the Holter Monitor or Event Monitor there is a much better chance of recording that event when it happens.
How to EKG Practice
If you are interested in becoming an EKG Technician then you need to practice reading the EKG strips. This website has an EKG simulator that you can play with. You run the simulator and then read the EKG strip. It will let you know if you read the strip correctly.
The EKG simulator has various options for you to practice the way you like to practice. You can have it set to dynamic, which is like a real life EKG being given in real time or you can set it to a static EKG. The static will show you just a strip to look at. You can try to beat your time by setting the practice EKG simulator to a faster time period to guess the right answer.
It is also helpful to study up on medical terminology which will help you when you get certified as an EKG Technician. You can also take an online class for medical language to learn medical terminology. Every bit of extra study will give you a little more of an advantage when it comes time to test.
The EKG Certification
To certify as an EKG Technician, you can purchase certification prep materials from Allied Health. They do offer study materials that run around $15-$65 each that you can buy and use to practice EKG reading. They offer videos, test taking strategies, study guides and other practice materials. When it comes time, the cost of the EKG Certification exam is only about $105.
If you want to cover all your bases in practicing for the EKG certification exam, you can get the prep materials from Allied Health but then also practice online at various websites. There is the simulator that is mentioned earlier in this article, but there are also other sample test sites on the Internet. Just put in the search terms “EKG Practice” into your favorite search engine and you will pull up a lot of different websites that have quizzes and sample strip tests where you can test your knowledge. If you test yourself a lot and on a daily basis then you will learn how to read EKG print outs very quickly.
Is Certification Required for an EKG Technician?
Certification is not required for a person to work as an EKG Technician. However, like many fields, if you have the education and the certification to prove that you are competent then it will give you a competitive edge when applying for a job. Hiring a person with a certification is going to be preferred because Medicare and some other insurance companies will only cover the EKG if it is performed by a certified technician. So, of course, the hospital or physician would rather have a technician that is certified as an EKG Technician.
The Future for Certified EKG Technicians
The future looks very promising for those who certify as an EKG Technician because growth in this industry is expected to be 39% between now and 2022. The USA Bureau of Labor expects there will be over 40,000 additional jobs added in this industry by 2022. Certainly as the baby boomer generation ages, more and more EKG Technicians are going to need to be hired to address the demand.
The average salary for an EKG Technician is $52,000 per year and the position tops out at about $70,000 per year. For someone just starting out as a tech, the average pay can be about $27,000 per year. Typically the job is a 40-hour per week position with very little overtime in the normal setting. More hours are usually available in a laboratory setting than in a private practice.
If you are interested in learning more about getting into medical school or brushing up on your medical terminology to help certify as an EKG Technician, you can take online courses to do that. If you want to do a lot more EKG practice to prepare for certification as an EKG Technician, there are a lot of websites where you can practice reading the EKG strips.