Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 Neurodiagnostics Updates: News from ABRET re: recertification and more

Here it is, New Year’s Eve, 2013!   I have gotten a few calls this week from techs that are under the wire to complete their recertification application, due at the end of this year.  Some are scrambling to accrue the rest of the CEUs required!  I have some good news for all of you “last minute shoppers”!  ABRET has offered an extension for credentials expiring this year only.   The extension is granted for up to six months!  There will be a “late fee” of $100 added to the $75 regular application fee.   ABRET’s Executive Director, Janice Walbert, explained to me that there is no need to file paperwork or notify ABRET at this time, if you wish to take advantage of this extension.  Between now and June, those technologists who are due to recertify by the end of this year, who have missed the deadline, will be “certified in grace” until June.  As long as you turn in your application, fees and documentation of the required continuing education hours by then, you will be able to renew your credential.
Please note that in the interim, if anyone looks up your name on the credential search tab of the ABRET website, your expiring credential will appear in red, indicating that it is past due.  So, if you are in a situation such as a job interview, where an employer might research your credentials, it is important to explain this up front.
Starting in 2014, ABRET will offer only a one-month grace period for expiring credentials, so mark your calendars now, if you need to recertify in 2014!

Other news items: 
·        ASET’s lower registration rate for our seminar courses!
You may not have noticed yet, but this year ASET is offering lower registration fees for our spring and fall seminar courses!   We have reduced rates up to $100 for the two-day courses!  In years’ past, the early registration rate for ASET members was $375 and this year it will be just $275!  We at ASET try to listen to our members and address their needs.  With the trend for health care institutions to cut back on covering educational expenses, many technologists are struggling to fund their attendance at courses.  At the same time, with ABRET’s requirements for CEUs both for recertification and qualification for the EEG registry exam, more technologists than ever before must partake of formal education.  I am hoping that the reduction in fees will allow more technologists to come to our courses.  Please support ASET by attending our educational events.  You will get a good value for your investment!  Please look at the meeting tab on our website for more information about our seminar schedule for 2014.  We will be in Pittsburgh, PA on March 29 & 30, with “EEG Boot Camp” and “LTM Academy” courses.   We will offer “EEG Boot Camp” in Arlington, TX on November 8 & 9.   For the first time, at the Fall Seminar course, we will be sharing the meeting space with AAET, who will sponsor the NCS course that will run concurrently.

·        Recap: ASET Course at AES – “Making an LTM/ICU Monitoring Program Work: Technical Aspects
We had 72 registered attendees for this one day course!  This was above and beyond my expectations!  We would have had even more local technologists participating, those who planned to drive into D.C. on the day of the course, if the icy, messy snowstorm had not arrived mid-day!   However, we did have several nurse practitioners and physicians who were at the AES meeting come by and sign up to attend the course that day.  And those folks were very impressed with our knowledge and the course content!  We got rave reviews all around!   Thanks so much to our speakers:  Judy Ahn-Ewing, Dr. Joseph Drazkowski, Cheryl Plummer, Sherry Nehamkin, Ryan Lau and Sabrina Galloway!   We won’t be able to repeat this opportunity until 2015, but based on the success of this event, we certainly will work on hosting another course at the AES conference to be held in Philadelphia that year!

Happy New Year to all!  Hope to see you at an ASET educational event in 2014!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Would college credits be of value to you as an NDT Technologist?

We at ASET thought that perhaps the opportunity to have college credits awarded for our on-line courses would be helpful to technologists who are planning to work on advancing their careers by obtaining a college degree: either an Associates, a Bachelor’s or Master’s level, depending upon the current level of education each person may have.
So, we have spent the last two years working with the American Council on Education (ACE) to complete the application process to have them review our on-line course curriculums for approval for recommendation for college credits.  A couple of months ago, we proudly announced that we were successful! The American Council on Education has approved our courses, and they made the following recommendations:
·        EEG  101-112 plus proctored exam:  In the lower-division baccalaureate/associate degree category, 11 semester hours in basic and clinical application of EEG.
·        NCS 101-112 plus proctored exam:  In the lower-division baccalaureate/associate degree category, 8 semester hours in nerve conduction study
·        LTM 101-109 plus proctored exam:  in the upper-division baccalaureate degree category, 12 semester hours in long term  and neuro-critical care monitoring
·        IONM 100-110 plus proctored exam:  In the upper-division baccalaureate degree category, 20 semester hours in intraoperative neuromonitoring

Please note: You must have completed one of our full curriculums in order to receive the college credits as listed above.   It is also important to understand that each college sets its own standards and may use the ACE guidelines or not.  They can decline the request for college credits or award a different value.
What does all this mean?
This means that a national organization that is highly respected in the academic community has recognized our courses as a worthy educational resource at the college level.  It does not mean that every college you might apply to will award college credits if you have completed the ASET on-line courses.  That is up to the individual college.  These are only recommendations.  However, many colleges rely on the American Council on Education to make recommendations about all types of adult education and work related training.
Did you notice the stipulation about the “proctored exam”?  Let me explain.  The American Council on Education requires that anyone who wishes to obtain college credit recommendations must prove their successful course of study by taking a proctored exam covering the curriculum content.  The ABRET exam does not qualify as the “proctored exams”.   These exams must be custom arranged  for each individual to take place in your area.  Typical locations may include a local community or college library. The facility may charge a nominal fee for providing this service, in the $20-$30 range.   Please contact Maggie Marsh Nation to request arrangements for a proctored exam if you are interested in taking the proctored exam after completing one of our online curriculums.
By having our courses acknowledged by the American Council on Education, we are hoping that some employers may allow our course enrollees to use their tuition reimbursement benefit to pay for the course registration fees.  This has always been a difficulty for ASET, since we are not an “institution of higher education” and cannot be considered a college.  Please check with your hospital benefits department regarding their rules regarding tuition reimbursement, as we can’t assume this benefit will be approved for all course participants.
Here is a link to a page on our website that you may find helpful:

And here is a link to the American Council on Education listing which includes ASET:

Please contact Maggie or me if we can help you achieve your goals for a college degree by using ASET courses.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How to deliver quality care to patients with epilepsy:

That is a quest that we can all share.

For the first time ever, ASET – The Neurodiagnostic Society will be hosting a one-day course at the 2013 American Epilepsy Society meeting in Washington D.C.  The date of the course is Sunday, December 8th.  The course title is:  "Making an LTM/ICU Monitoring Program Work:  Technical Aspects"

This course is designed to be of interest to anyone who is involved in the planning and operation of a comprehensive epilepsy program, long term monitoring program, or an ICU continuous EEG program.  Physicians, fellows, residents, nurses and technologists are invited to attend.  When designing this course, I felt that there are some skills that we have built upon over the years, that have become our niche within the epilepsy care team, and we now have the opportunity to share this information with other caregivers.   Subjects we will be covering include:
·        How to configure a LTME unit, including equipment, networking for remote access and other design details to optimize the function of the unit, and ensure that files can be accessed by staff 24 hours a day, to allow for rapid interpretation and intervention when needed.
·        How to build quality improvement and daily communication into your patient care model to ensure patient safety and a customized LTME admission for each patient.  This will enhance your chances of capturing essential data as quickly as possible, to reduce prolonged admissions, which are difficult for the patient to endure and costly.  We will also discuss how to address the patient’s comfort, support and cultural needs throughout the admission.
·        Addressing concerns about skin breakdown during prolonged recording, selecting the optimal electrodes and application methods, determining how to edit files for review and archiving.
·        How to conduct a seizure assessment that will reveal essential information and assess loss of specific functions during an event, taking into consideration unique factors for each patient: cognitive ability, disabilities, language and cultural issues.
·        How to build a continuous EEG monitoring program for an ICU – equipment, staffing, enabling a variety of caregivers to assess the ongoing recording to determine the need for urgent intervention using innovative staffing models, trending software, and remote access to data.
We are able to offer this course for a flat rate registration fee of $120.  You do not have to register for the entire AES conference to attend this course.  We will accept registrations throughout the next month and even on-site.  You may read about this course complete the registration process via the  ASET website, at this link: ASET AES Course registration

There is no hotel room block associated with this course.  I suggest that you visit travel websites to seek the best price on a room, and keep in mind that this course is being held at the Washington D.C. Convention Center, with easy access to the Metro transit system, so you may be able to find reasonably priced accommodations a bit further away from the convention center.

I am really excited about this course.  I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Building Neurodiagnostic Education to address the shortage of qualified technologists

We have been aware of a nation-wide shortage of highly skilled technologists for a very long time.  In my role,  I get calls all the time from employers who just can’t find the techs they need to fill open positions and from people who would like to pursue a career in neurodiagnostics but who do not have access to a Neurodiagnostic Program in their area.  The on-line programs alleviate this problem somewhat, but there are very large areas of the country, covering many states, that do not have one single neurodiagnostic technology training program!  The on-line schools also have some difficulty recruiting out-of-state students who do not qualify for in-state student loans.
At this time ASET lists 30 schools in the USA, and 23 of these schools are currently CAAHEP accredited.
2011 is the last year that CAAHEP has statistics available regarding graduates of these programs, and that year 180 NDT technologists graduated.
The Washington Post currently has 778 Neurodiagnostic Technologist positions listed in their on-line job search website.  So, we are far from able to fill all job openings with our new graduates.
So, what to do?  How can we build more new programs?  The ASET Formal Education Task Force has created a “Dean’s Packet”.  This packet includes a cover letter addressed to a Dean, and a seven page document that provides an overview of pertinent statistics that a Dean would require to justify the opening of a new program.  The statistics include locations of current schools, salary statistics, ABRET exam statistics and other key facts that help to illustrate the state of our profession.  If you are aware of a community college in your area that might be willing to consider opening a new course of study, or has a grant or mission to address needs of the local community, and you would like to reach out to a Dean with this information, please contact me directly and I will send you a copy of the packet items via e-mail.
We are hoping to build a database of contacts at colleges that do not yet have a program in Neurodiagnostics, so any suggestions you have will be greatly appreciated.
My e-mail address is: faye@aset.org and I welcome your comments, queries and suggestions.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Electroencephalography Veterinarian Style: EEG Recordings on Dogs and Cats

One of the abstract presentations at the ASET 2013 Annual Conference in Reno last month was particularly of interest to me as a dog lover and owner of two Labrador retrievers.  The title of the presentation was  “Electroencephalographic and Clinical Findings in 37 dogs and 4 cats.”  The author of the abstract was Dr. William Bush, V.MD, DACVIM, and his presentation was fascinating!
He showed videos of some of his canine and feline patients having clinical spells that could very well be seizures.  The confirmation of seizure activity has been a challenge in veterinary medicine, and for the most part, is done by clinical observation and pathology affecting the brain may be detected with MRI, and lab studies of the cerebral spinal fluid.  Dr. Bush explained that when these tests are positive, there is a greater chance that the EEG recording will be abnormal as well.  But in cases where there is no structural or infectious process to cause seizures, an EEG recording can be done and is very helpful.  His study included three patients who were diagnosed with non-convulsive status epilepticus based upon their EEG findings.
It is also interesting to contemplate exactly how an EEG can be done on cats and dogs.  Dr. Bush discussed the use of sedation and a small number of needle electrodes.
I actually have some experience with recording an ambulatory EEG on a dog.  In the past, when I was working at Children’s Hospital in Boston, I was contacted by a veterinary behavioral specialist from Florida, who was a consultant for a show dog: a standard poodle, living in New Hampshire, who had frequent spells which may represent seizures.  Since the animal was a show dog, the owner did not want to start prescription anticonvulsants unless the seizures could be documented.  She was seeking a neurodiagnostic technologist who would be willing to work with the dog to record an ambulatory EEG at the nearby state-of-the-art facility, “Angell Memorial Animal Center”.  That person would be me!
We coordinated a dedicated exam room at the veterinary hospital, a flight to Boston for the specialist, and the use of the ambulatory EEG equipment donated for the session by Digitrace.  We knew that the dog would need to wear a backpack with the ambulatory recorder so for a few weeks prior to the recording session, the owner placed a harness and backpack on the dog for several hours per day, to acclimate the dog to the device he would be wearing.
A team of helpers met the dog, Flair, the owner and the behavioral specialist on the appointed day.  Our team included a clinical applications specialist from Digitrace, a veterinary neurologist from Angell and myself and another tech from Children’s.  We were prepared to administer a sedative for lead placement.  I had brought disk electrodes, collodion, and an air compressor with me.  We decided to try applying electrodes without sedation first.  The owner held the dog’s muzzle still, made eye contact with the dog, and calmed him verbally, while I placed leads.  No problem!  Frankly, the dog was easier to work with than most 2 year olds!

The dog wore the equipment for 48 hours and stayed with the owner in a pet-friendly hotel nearby.  Once a day, she brought the dog to a Digitrace office to have the leads checked and regelled.  It took a while but eventually typical clinical events were recorded which correlated to EEG activity that could be electrographic seizures.
We videotaped the patient set-up and the owner videotaped the clinical events.  I presented this case study as an abstract at the ASET annual conference in New Orleans in 2002.
A picture of me with my poodle patient:

It is interesting to speculate that in the future, there will be more utilization of clinical EEG in veterinary practice.  My thanks to Dr. Bush for sharing this fascinating topic with us.  Many of the techs in the audience agreed with me and would like to hear more from him in the future.