Thursday, December 20, 2012

Brain gifts to share with you… Merry Christmas!

I am preparing for the Christmas Holiday, and the ASET Education office will be closed from Friday, December 21 through next Wednesday.  I will be back in my office on Thursday, Dec. 27th for the rest of that week.  I thought I would cheer you all up with some delightful brain-themed gifts!

How about this great, hand-made brain hat?  This was made by one of Debby Ferguson’s students for her.  She runs the NDT Program at the Indiana University.

 For the music lovers on your list:  “Brain Wave Massage Music” C.D. and you can get this on Amazon.  Maybe you can play this to relax your patients.

And if you collect stuffed animals, how about a “stuffed brain”!

 Have a safe and peaceful holiday and make sure to give your brain a rest!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Feasibility Study for an ASET initiative to create a Neurodiagnostic Lab management resource

You have probably seen the notice under “Breaking News” on the ASET home page about a survey that I am currently conducting.  The ASET Board of Trustees has requested that I complete a feasibility study to determine if ASET can offer a specialized educational program to prepare staff technologists to take on lab management roles. 

ASET promotes professionalism in our field.  We strive to ensure that technologists are recognized in the work place for their specialized skills and knowledge.  When a hospital administration is seeking someone to serve in a supervisory or management role in the Neurodiagnostic Laboratory, we sincerely hope that the staff technologists are not overlooked as qualified candidates for this role.  We are considering developing a special “tool kit”, a package of management skill development resources that will give technologists the edge when seeking to move up the career ladder.

While some hospitals may have an internal “leadership development” program, I know that many do not.  Earlier in my thirty-three year career in Neurodiagnostics, by moving to better jobs, I worked my way up to lab management.  I had very few opportunities for specific training in the new skills that would be required.  Other than an afternoon session on how to write a performance appraisal, I was on my own!  I had to pursue a college degree to take the kind of courses that one needs to develop essential management skills.
So, perhaps, at some point in the not-too-distant future, ASET will be able to offer technologists a Lab Management Certificate Program.  The goal will be to create concise learning modules to cover all the areas of knowledge required to effectively manage a Neurodiagnostic Lab.  After completing all the modules, learning activities, assignments, tests and skill assessments in the program, the participant would be awarded a “Certificate of Completion” for documentation.  Hopefully, this will lead to promotions.  We need to develop more leaders from within our own ranks.

Some of the topics that we might cover will include:

  • Overview of information related to information resources, websites, organizations, associations etc. that have to do with neurodiagnostics, allied health, accreditation, etc.
  • Legal issues regarding digital records, editing and archiving of recordings and video files
  • Lab and LTM unit set up to address HIPPA patient privacy issues such as video monitoring screen access and visibility, as well as patient safety issues
  • Capital expense and equipment purchase
  • Networking and remote access to recordings

So, please take a few moments and fill out a survey for me.  The survey will be available for another month before I tally the results.  You will find the survey right on the ASET home page, or click here to go there now.

Thanks so much, and as always, I welcome your comments.  Once I have more information from the feasibility study, I will write an update for you all in a future blog entry.  As of today, 140 surveys have come back to me, with mostly positive responses, so I hope to have good news for you!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Planning the course tracks for the ASET 2013 Annual Conference in Reno

Have you ever wondered how we decide what course tracks should be included in our annual conference program?  And how we decide when each course should be placed on the schedule?
It is rather like putting a puzzle together.
First, I take into consideration all the comments from attendee evaluations from the last annual conference.  There are many helpful comments about what would be of interest for future programs.  I also tally how many people attend each lecture, based on which lectures each attendee evaluated.  So, I can easily see a pattern of “hot topics” and ones that are not as popular.
I also try to offer some variety from year to year without skipping our perennial favorites.  Additionally, I make special note of ABRET oral exams, if they are being held the weekend of the conference, in the city in which we are holding the conference.  This means that there will be lots of anxious exam candidates in town, who would appreciate a day of EEG topics prior to sitting for the exam.  It also means that there will be many highly qualified technologists and neurologists coming into town to serve as examiners who can also give great presentations on a variety of topics!  Because of ABRET guidelines, examiners cannot give lectures pertaining to Board Prep topics, but there are many other areas of interest to be covered.
There are several courses which include hands-on workshops, as they are the most effective way to learn a new procedure.  Nerve conduction, Evoked Potentials and Trans-cranial Doppler are three examples where “hands-on” is a must.  These courses must be scheduled on days when our vendors are on-site in our exhibit hall, so that they may provide the equipment we use in these workshops.
So, what is happening in Reno?  I have just put the master schedule together.  I hope that you are looking forward to the program, and I encourage your comments, suggestions and questions at any time.  I begin serious planning of content in early December.  Here is the plan:
Daily Plenary Session as the first event and Platform Presentations throughout each day, plus:  
Thursday, Aug. 1
Evoked Potentials
Pediatric Neurodiagnostics

 Friday, Aug. 2
Trends in IONM

Saturday, Aug. 3
ICU Monitoring
Advanced IONM
1/2 Day CPT Coding Workshop
1/2 Day Professional Development
You’ve probably noticed some new offerings!  The Pediatric Course is in response to multiple requests on the attendee evaluations from St. Paul.  Since I worked at Children’s Hospital in Boston, this is an area that is dear to my heart, and our smallest patients require specialized care and disease states and diagnostic procedures can be unique to this age group. 
We are also trying something a bit different with two half-day courses on Saturday.  We are fortunate to have access to a very savvy billing expert.  With all the changes in billing and coding that will come with the Affordable Health Care Act, we need to delve deeply into the topic of CPT coding.  This expert did a short workshop in St. Paul and the overwhelming majority of comments were that the program was not long enough to address the topic.  So, this year we will provide adequate time for a customized learning experience, where participants can bring in case studies and questions related to reimbursement.
Because it was so successful last year, we will once again offer a daily plenary session, for all conference attendees, followed by short platform presentations on a variety of topics.
The abstract application form is on our website now, at the “Meetings” tab, plus “Annual Conference”.  We need abstracts!  You will receive free registration on the day you present your abstract, so it is worth doing this!  We also have poster abstracts, and you may apply to present in either format. 
See you in Reno, August1-3, 2013!


Monday, October 29, 2012

Mentoring and Learning

Were you fortunate enough to have a mentor somewhere along your career path?  I find that within neurodiagnostic technology, mentoring is a great way to help give a boost to someone who is trying to prepare for a Board Exam or learn a new modality.  Many technologists work in rural areas or in a one-person lab and they feel isolated and alone and have no one to go to with questions.  I get those kind of calls every day!  ASET used to have a formal mentor program to try to connect those who needed to learn, with those willing to coach.  Although we do not formally offer this program any more, I do try to find help for people who really need it.  You might wonder why the mentor program was dropped.  I found that it was extremely difficult to find a qualified person to serve as a mentor for a specific tech who needed help, mostly due to the geographic challenges.  The techs wanted mentors they could visit in person, and that was next to impossible to find.
I had a very special mentor, early in life who inspired me and gave me confidence, my grandmother, whom I called “Nana”.  She was born in Eastport, Maine in 1898, one of seven children in a fairly poor family.  But she really could cook!  Most of the time she did so without a written recipe.   She taught me how to cook at a very early age.  I remember being small enough, maybe six or seven, when I stood on a stool in front of the stove while she made a fish chowder.  She showed me how it should look, and when to add ingredients.  I have made chowders ever since, fish and clam chowders that get rave reviews from guests.  So, I decided to enter a Chowder Competition here in Boothbay.  I was competing with about 20 restaurant chefs.  I did O.K. and had loads of fun but did not win, place or show.  But I learned a lot that I can use when I try again next year.  Here is a picture of me as “Fish Chowder Faye”.

  On a sad note, this historic ship, the Bounty, a replica used for the movie and for other films such as Pirates of the Caribbean, was being repaired at the shipyard where the chowderfest took place in Boothbay Harbor and I took this picture. 

This ship just left Maine and sailed South, and was lost at sea off of Cape Hatteras, due to Hurricane Sandy.  Most of the crew were rescued, two are lost.

Back to the mentoring:  You too have important skills and knowledge that you can share with others.  Please reach out to techs that you know and offer to help them prepare for exams or learn new skills, from IONM to lab management!  Your contribution will help build our profession and our work force.  My next entry will include more about lab management, as I have questions for all of you pertaining to your needs in this area.

Monday, October 1, 2012

What is up in 2013? EEG, LTM and ICU Monitoring and Nerve Conduction Educational Schedule

I am packing my bags for Phoenix this week, to manage the ASET Fall Seminar Courses, and our local host is the Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center.  We will be offering two courses concurrently:  “Essentials and Updates in EEG Technology” and “Advanced LTM and ICU Monitoring”.   We have 16 staff nurses from the Phoenix area who are planning to attend our LTM/ICU course.  It is nice to know that we have the respect of the medical community as the experts on continuous EEG monitoring!  Our EEG course is designed to cover all the subjects that you can expect to find in the ABRET part I and part II exams.  People have asked if the content of the ABRET EEG exam will change when the oral exam is phased out in 2013.  ABRET has reassured us that the content will be the same, only the way the exam is given will be changing.
I thought my readers might like to know what the ASET Educational Calendar will be for 2013.  I have just finalized the 2013 ASET Spring and Fall Seminar dates and locations.   ASET has also been invited to host a one day course at the 2013 American Epilepsy Society annual conference in Washington D.C.!  This is a first for us!  The content will cover all technical aspects of LTM and ICU monitoring, and our expected audience will include physicians and nurses, as well as technologists.
 So, please mark your calendars and try to attend one of these great events!

2013 ASET Spring Seminar Courses:  April 6-7, at the Mayo Clinic Campus
in Jacksonville, FL
Excelling in EEG (2 days)
Comprehensive LTM and ICU Monitoring (2 days)
2013 ASET Annual Conference:  Aug. 1-3, at the Peppermill Resort in Reno, NV (3 days)
2013 ASET Fall Seminar Courses, Oct. 5-6, Indiana University Campus, Neuroscience Center,
 Indianapolis, IN
Excelling in EEG (2 days)
NCS Learning Lab (2 days)
ICU Monitoring and Neurotelemetry (Oct 5th only)

ASET Course at the AES conference in Washington D.C., Sunday, Dec. 8th
Technical Aspects of LTM and ICU Monitoring

Please note:  I will be out of my office from Wed. Oct. 3 through Mon. Oct. 8th for my trip to Phoenix.  Looking forward to revisiting summer!  It has been 40 degr
degrees here at night, 60 degrees during the day, and now I will get to experience 100 degree heat!