Cardiographers monitor patients' hearts to support decisions around treatment and any additional care needed.
Working with a team of cardiologists and other healthcare professionals in a hospital's cardiac department, cardiographers use their love of science and technology to assess and monitor patients' heart and blood vessels.
You'll operate electrocardiograph (ECG) machines which monitor the heart. You'll fit electrodes to the patient's body, making sure they are correctly connected to the machine. You'd then take readings from the ECG which the doctor uses to make decisions about treatment.
You may also be involved in other types of cardiovascular monitoring and treatment including:
- echocardiography, using ultrasound to create images
- exercise testing, monitoring patients while they exercise on a treadmill
- tilt testing
- blood pressure monitoring
- pacemakers and ICD (implantable cardioverter-defibrillators)
- remote monitoring of patients
You'll learn how to use new equipment and techniques as they are developed.
Who will I work with?
Your main contact will be with your patients. You'll be part of the cardiac sciences team which includes anaesthetists, cardiothoracic surgeons, healthcare scientists, cardiologists (doctors specialising in the cardiovascular system) and specialist nurses.
Entry requirements, skills and interests
There are no set entry requirements for cardiographers. Employers expect good numeracy and literacy. They may ask for at least two GCSEs (or equivalent) including English and maths. Some ask for science as well. Some employers ask for A levels or equivalent qualifications in science.
Employers often ask for relevant work experience. Even where this is not specified, it would be an advantage if you have worked in health or social care, either in paid employment or voluntary work.
Personal characteristics and skills needed
As a cardiographer, you'd need to:
- reassure patients
- operate machines
- be interested in science and technology
- follow instructions carefully
- record data accurately
- pay attention to detail
- explain clearly to patients
- work with all types of people
You'll also need
- technological skills
- IT skills
- good communication skills
Training and development
You will receive the training you need to work as a cardiographer. This includes:
- an introduction to the department and its systems and procedures
- the human body and the cardiovascular system
- using the equipment
As part of your training, you are likely to study for the Award or Certificate in Electrocardiography from the Society for Cardiological Science and Technology.
Clinical support staff working in the NHS are paid on the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay system. As a cardiographer, you will typically start on AfC band 2. It is possible to apply for more senior positions at band 3 or 4, after further training and experience.
Most cardiographers in the NHS work standard hours, which are likely to be around 37.5 a week. They may work some evenings or weekends.
Terms and conditions will usually be different for clinical support staff working outside of the NHS.
As you gain experience, you could become a senior cardiographer. A senior cardiographer might work with more complicated equipment or have more responsibility for working with patients. They may also supervise the work of other cardiographers.
With experience and further training, and if you have the academic ability to do so, you could apply for an undergraduate BSc (Hons) Healthcare Science (Cardiac Physiology) - the NHS Practitoner Training Programme. This would enable you to work as a healthcare science practitioner in cardiac sciences.
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