Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What is the average salary for Neurodiagnostic Technologists?

That is a very good question and one that ASET tries to answer by distributing a national salary survey for technologists every three years.  Our last salary survey was published in 2011 and we are currently collecting data for our 2014 salary survey.  Please sign up for the survey soon!  We have a December 15th deadline for this survey.

There are many reasons why it is important for us to know what the range of salaries is in this field.
·        It helps us advocate to employers to increase wages to meet current rates nation-wide
·        It helps us recruit prospective students to the field when they can see what kind of earning they can anticipate
·        It helps us demonstrate to Deans who may consider opening a new NDT program that the salary for neurodiagnostic technologists is competitive with other allied health professions
·        It helps you to know what the average salary is for various specialties, so that you may plan for your own career path and anticipate an increase in your income in the future
We currently do not have sufficient responses to the salary survey to provide a statistically accurate representation of what technologists are making with respect to such demographics as years of experience, credentials obtained and regional differences in income.
So please be proactive and complete the salary survey on our website.  You do not have to be a member to participate. We are striving to cover a wide range of job descriptions and levels of experience so we would like to hear from you whether you are on-the-job trained and working in a rural hospital, or if you are in a specialized role in a major medical center.  We can advocate better for those working in the field if we have up-to-date information. 
 It does take a bit of time to complete the survey, and we greatly appreciate the time and effort you put into this endeavor. Please make sure you do not skip section one, which provides us with basic information on which we build the rest of the statistics. 
  You may use this link to the instructions for the survey:

You can find the link to the actual survey right on the ASET home page at
Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

After the conference: Ideas from the 2014 ASET annual conference evaluations

So, I spend a couple of weeks after the annual conference tallying the scores that our attendees give for each lecture they attended.  This is very valuable information for me.  It helps me decide who to put on my high priority invitation list, and provides overall insights into what our conference attendees think of their learning experience, and other things about the meeting:  the venue, the food, the social events.  I compose a letter to each faculty member, including their overall average score and a sampling of comments from their audience.  We have great speakers but it takes a lot to get up and talk in front of over 100 people!  Fear of public speaking is sited as second only to fear of death!  So I appreciate it when attendees offer constructive comments and kindness in their remarks.
There is a second evaluation form that we ask attendees to fill out; more about what they want from a conference, their thoughts on the meeting space, and the like.  This form also includes demographics about our attendees: their location, type of work, reason for attending.  As I read through the 303 evaluations I received, I saw trends in the comments, some inspiring ideas and some suggestions that I would like to reply to in a general way.
Forty percent of our attendees preferred resort properties for our conference location, followed by urban locations then family destinations.  But many of the same attendees who checked off resort properties commented that the dining options on-site were too expensive, and it was not convenient to get to the downtown area for less expensive dining.  The quandary is that often resorts are more isolated and they are likely to have limited dining options on site.  To achieve an abundance of choices for dining in walking distance, an urban hotel is the best bet.  We try to alternate between each type of meeting venue, to provide variety over time.
Some attendee comments that I would like to address:
“Have a social event or lunch with people grouped by regions so we can meet other technologists from our area”.  This is a great idea!  We already have a special interest section lunch, where people can meet others with a common interest.  So it would be easy to designate regions at tables for another lunch or come up with a way to find colleagues from your region at a social event.
“Include an opportunity for students to meet and greet.”  This is also a great idea.  We had 11 students attending this year.  It could be as simple as helping them find each other with a sign on a table for them too!
“Add IONM hands-on workshops(One suggesting a needle placement workshop.  Ouch!).  We don’t have medical simulation mannequins and I can’t imagine anyone volunteering to be the subject for this workshop!  Many of the aids we use to monitor cases during surgery are not something that an awake subject would want to experience!  Any ideas for a non-invasive IONM workshop would be welcome!
“Include dinners in the conference program as well as breakfast and lunch”  This one is also very difficult.  While it would provide a convenient meal to attendees on a resort property, the reason we avoid serving an evening meal is because of the expense.  The average hotel meeting continental breakfast (we are talking rolls, juice and coffee) costs about $24 per person.  The coffee at break costs 80 to 90 dollars per gallon.  A sandwich lunch costs $35 per person.   A plated or buffet dinner is easily $60 per person.  We would have to raise the registration fee significantly to cover that cost.  So, we try to keep costs down and limit evening food, and hope that attendees enjoy exploring the local dining scene.
“Offer full day Board Prep Courses for EEG and other topics”.  We try to offer courses and lectures that have broad appeal.  The profile of the average ASET conference attendee is not an entry level person, but a technologist with quite a few years in the field, who has multiple credentials and is seeking CEUs for recertification. These folks are seeking learning challenges and new information.  So we provide lectures with excellent clinical information, of help to both the beginner and the seasoned technologist. We welcome students and new technologists but technologists who are entry level are less likely to have expenses paid by an employer and they also have less income to spare, so cannot always come to the annual conference.  For our Board Prep educational opportunities, we can offer a less expensive option by hosting two-day seminar courses separate from the annual conference.  We can use hospital conference space instead of expensive hotel meeting space and find nearby inexpensive hotel rooms to help our members save money.
Some comment “shorter breaks” and others “longer breaks”  The exhibit hall breaks are one hour long to allow people to explore exhibits and talk with vendors.  We could not put on a conference without the financial support of our vendors.  In return for that support, they appreciate the opportunity to network with potential customers and show you their latest innovations.  We also have our poster abstracts on display during breaks in the exhibit hall.  This qualifies as continuing education so what many attendees don’t know is that they get one CEU for each hour long exhibit hall break.
Chatting with a poster author can be a great learning experience

“Spread conference out over four days”  We had four-day conferences until 2012.  We decided to try the compressed three day program because we heard from members that they had difficulty getting extra time off to be at a conference for four days, challenges covering lab services or just being away from home.  In general, we have received very positive feedback about our three day format.
I appreciate all of the comments I receive.  It helps us create a new and better experience every year.  I just wanted to take some time to explain why some things are done the way they are.  As we plan for next year, we will take all comments to heart and try to bring you a new and exciting event!

See ya in Weston, Florida!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Why I call this course EEG Boot Camp

I came up with this title for the ASET EEG Seminar Course because I want to convey that the two days are packed with information and many opportunities to practice skills, sort of like drills at boot camp!  The more you practice something, the more familiar you become with the concepts and skills required to complete the task!
Here is the definition of “Boot Camp” according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary:  “a program or situation that helps people become much better at doing something in a short period of time”.  I think that defines the goal that ASET has when offering this course.   Of necessity, the course contact hours total 6 or 7 hours each day, with short breaks and a 50 minute lunch.  Occasionally, I will come across an attendee evaluation with a suggestion to extend the seminar to three days, to make it easier to absorb all of the information.  Unfortunately, for most staff technologists attending, trying to attend a course for three days presents additional challenges that are difficult to overcome:  the extra cost of another night’s hotel lodging and meals, time away from work and home, etc.
So, we stick with the two day format, and strive to customize learning for each course participant in the workshop sessions.  However, I have updated and adjusted the seminar content a bit to keep up with recent changes in the ABRET exam process.  Now that the EEG registry exam is administered as two separate written exams, I have altered the way we teach key skills.  I will always advocate for accurate placement of leads according to the 10/20 system, and measuring and marking each patient’s head prior to lead placement.  But the 10/20 hands-on workshop, with participants measuring Sam heads, has lost the interest of most course participants.  So, instead, I will offer access to the ASET on-line course on the 10/20 system at half price for anyone who attends the EEG Boot Camp. I will still include a short session on the 10/20 system to discuss techniques, practice calculations and advocate for this practice. 
I found that we needed to add more pattern recognition presentations and workshops.  The range of patterns that a technologist must recognize in order to do well on the exam is quite impressive.  One must be familiar with all of the normal variants, normal adult, pediatric and neonatal EEG patterns, and abnormalities related to seizures, neurological disorders, and coma.  Because so many technologists do not have the advantage of reading sessions with their docs, this is a key area of skill building that we can do together.
It is very important to understand that a two-day course cannot give you all the information you need to pass an exam or perform EEGs with a high level of skill.  It is only a starting point.  Entry level techs and those studying to take an exam need to put in a great deal of time and effort into reading and learning. 

But EEG Boot Camp is a great starting point!  The next EEG Boot Camp will be on Nov. 8 & 9, on the campus of the Concorde Career College, in Grand Prairie, TX.  We have a block of rooms at the nearby Crowne Plaza Hotel in Arlington, TX and a free shuttle service from the hotel to the college.  Please note that the early bird registration rate expires on Oct. 8, and the hotel room block expires on Oct. 28, so make your plans now!  Attendee information, including the course schedule, hotel information and our seminar registration form can be accessed via this link:

I hope to see you in Texas, for the next ASET EEG Boot Camp.  Be all that you can be!  Join me!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to make the most of the ASET annual conference experience

I have enjoyed attending ASET annual conferences since 1980!  From my very first time, to now, after spending the last 10 years from the perspective of the meeting planner, I have greatly enjoyed  every single conference I have attended. 
When you first walk into the meeting space, and see that many people doing the same kind of work as yourself, it is quite a thrill!  It is so easy to feel isolated in your workplace, facing problems alone.  And it is so enlightening to realize, after listening to others, that we are all facing similar challenges!
It can be overwhelming to read the program and try to decide what to do, and to understand what is going on.  Some people ask: 
“What is the difference between a course lecture and an abstract presentation?”  A course lecture has specific objectives regarding skill building or knowledge of a particular topic.  Course lectures include handouts.  Abstracts are short presentations that explain a research project, new concept or technique and the goal is to share information.  These are often more scientific or academic in nature, and presenters are not required to provide handouts.
I have some hints to help you make the most of the opportunities we offer!
Read the program schedule ASAP after you arrive:  Also, read the lecture descriptions and abstracts in the final program to help clarify what each presentation will be about.  Make a plan ahead of time for where you want to be for session time slot.  View the meeting space map in advance so you won’t get lost and miss the first part of a lecture.  Do a dry run “walk around” to make sure you know where you are going before the meeting begins.
Move Around!  Be prepared to walk back and forth between courses and the platform presentation session to customize your learning to the max!  Don’t sit in a room and listen to a lecture that does not interest you.  If you find that a presentation is not exactly what you anticipated, it is O.K. to move on to another session!
Choose topics that are new to you!  Try something different!  Stretch your wings!  Think about skills that you may not utilize right away, but that you have always been interested in learning!  Don’t overlook a management topic because you are not a manager!  You might be in the future! 
Ask Questions!  Don’t sit in the back of the room wishing you had asked a key question!  All of our speakers are here because they want to share knowledge with you.  Our physician speakers are very supportive of technologists and glad to be here!  Don’t be afraid to approach them!  If you don’t like to speak up in a room full of people, go up to them after they leave the podium and ask questions then.
Be present in the moment!  Try to leave work, home issues, texting and catching up on e-mail behind!  You have paid to be here to learn.  Enjoy the experience and participate as much as you can!  Don’t let distractions spoil the opportunity to enjoy a presentation.
Too Cold?  Too Hot?  Can’t hear a speaker?  Sitting next to someone snapping gum?  Please inform the course director or staff if the room temperature is a problem.  If you can’t hear, raise your hand and tell the speaker or move closer.  Can’t bear your neighbor?  Move away!
Handouts:  While handouts are helpful, concentrate on the live presentation, since much more information is provided by the speaker!  Please do not get caught up on whether every slide the speaker shows exactly matches your handout!  Our speakers often add to slide presentations when they have updates or new case studies to include.  We strive to provide handouts for every course lecture!  All those received by our deadline for submission are included on the handout flash drive in the meeting bag.  We do not print any handouts.  The week of Aug. 11, we will send an e-mail out to all attendees registered for the meeting, to provide a link to a secure website where you may download handouts to print, if you wish to bring printed handouts with you.  I plan to collect the late handouts by then, so those not on the flash drive should be accessible via this link.    If you have a laptop or a tablet with a USB port, you can view handouts during lectures, using the handout flash drive. 
The Exhibit Hall Experience:  Poster abstracts are on display in the exhibit hall, with authors present at specific breaks.  Posters are a great way to gather information about new topics.  Visit as many vendors as you can!  This is your chance to view new products and ask questions of the manufacturers. 
Meet new people!  Introduce yourself to others at your table at lunch!  Listening to an interesting conversation?  Join in!  Participate in all the social events, and network wherever you can!  By the pool, at the bar, in the lobby!  Stop by the Grass Roots Watering Hole!  Browse the silent auction and talk with other bidders!
Enjoy the experience!