Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Neurodiagnostic Christmas and are you due to recertify an ABRET credential at the end of 2015?

I have to start this post with a picture of our black lab, Cooper, checking out his Christmas stocking.  He is counting the days until Christmas, when Santa will fill it with lots of treats!

Well, here it is, the Winter Solstice, the beginning of a holiday week and the end of another year!  Since the ASET offices will be closed extra days for the holiday, including the Thursday, Christmas Eve and Thursday, New Year’s Eve, I thought it would be helpful to provide information about the ABRET credential recertification process in case some technologists have questions over the holidays.  For those whose credential is due for recertification in 2015, the deadline is Dec. 31!  There is a 30 day "grace period" after the December 31st deadline, but there will be a $100 late fee added to the recertification fee.  If you do not recertify by Jan. 31 you will be required to re-take the exam for your credential!

First and foremost:  It is ABRET that administers the recertification process, not ASET.  We occasionally hear from someone who is searching through our website for a “Recertification” tab.  You won't find it on the ASET website!  All recertification activity is conducted through ABRET, www.abret.org and their office number is 217-726-7980.  Please call ABRET if you have questions about the process.  If you need to know how many CEUs you already have, that is an ASET function.  If you are a member of ASET, your CEU transcript can be viewed from the “welcome” page, when you sign on at www.aset.org, with your user name and password.  If you are not a member of ASET, you can complete a form to request a copy of your ASET CEU transcript from our website at this link:  ASET CEU transcript request form  There is a $25 fee for this service.

There is a credential manager program on the ABRET website, where you can complete recertification process, including documentation of the continuing education hours you have completed.  There is also a recertification fee. 
Here are some helpful resources and links:
To find out how many CEUs you need to recertify, based on the credential earned and the year it was awarded:  How many CEUs do I need to recertify?
To find out what kind of education and topics are acceptable: Acceptable continuing education
The ABRET credential Manager Program:   ABRET credential manager
And to read about the credential manager program, ASET published a “tech tips” article on how to complete the accreditation process, please look up the "Tech Tips" article from the Dec. 2014 ASET Newsletter.
My office will be closed from Dec. 23 to Jan. 4th, so I hope this last bit of information for 2015 is helpful to you!
Happy Holidays to all and Best Wishes for the New Year!  Faye

Monday, November 9, 2015

Why is continuous EEG in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit so unique?

I worked in clinical EEG from 1978 to 2004, when I became a member of the ASET staff.  For fourteen of those years, I worked at Children’s Hospital in Boston, and I have always loved working with pediatric patients the most!  And of all the pediatric patients, my very favorites are the newborns!  I find it so fascinating to observe the maturation of the brain! 

Back in the 1980’s I worked at Memorial Hospital in Worcester, MA, where there was a very busy neonatal intensive care unit that provided care for almost all of the critically ill infants from miles around.  I was working in a one-person lab so I recorded every EEG requested in that unit, which averaged about 15 neonatal EEGs per month.  I was always happy to spend hours in the NICU, observing the medical staff, new parents, and many tiny patients.  I often did serial EEGs on premature infants and I was able to observe the remarkable changes in EEG patterns as the brain develops.  You can actually estimate the conceptional age of an infant pretty accurately by using EEG, since new patterns appear about every two weeks in the pre-term infant.  For example: the Delta Brush pattern is very distinctive and generally peaks at 31-33 weeks conceptional age.  I took great pride in understanding neonatal EEG patterns and became very familiar with them, since I observed so many over the years.
While all EEGs are an important component of the diagnostic process, continuous EEG for the critically ill newborn is vital and of the utmost importance!  Neurological complications can occur rapidly and can be difficult to recognize without EEG monitoring.  Urgent intervention can have such a huge impact on the future of a child:  not surviving a crisis, or incurring significant anoxia and brain damage can be a real possibility.  Our youngest and most fragile patients benefit the most from a high quality EEG recording: including lead placement that does not break the skin, artifact-free recording, systematic review of data being recorded, and prompt notification of significant changes in EEG patterns.
I think that recording EEG in the neonate requires a high level of skill, great care and patience, a delicate touch and strong communication skills as we need to work closely with so many others in this setting to apply leads, set-up a recording and maintain a continuous recording when you can’t be present to monitor the record all of the time. 
So, I am inviting you to participate in the extended webinar that ASET is offering this week, on Nov. 11 & 12, on the topic of “Continuous EEG in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit”.  If you cannot spend 3 hours each day listening to the live presentations and discussion, then perhaps consider purchasing the recorded version which will soon be available.  For the full schedule of webinar presentations, and to sign-up for the webinar, please use this link:Webinar info
If you are new to the field and work in an institution where you will be recording neonatal EEG, this webinar will be essential to helping you work in this special environment.  If you don’t work with neonates but are planning to take the ABRET EEG Registry exam or their CLTM exam, you will need to know all about neonatal EEG to cover questions on the exam that have to deal with all aspects of EEG in this age group:  both normal and abnormal patterns, clinical correlations and the ACNS guidelines for recording neonatal EEG.  There is also a fairly new ACNS guideline for terminology used to report on neonatal EEG.  So, you see, this really is a world of its own and one that is worth exploring!

Monday, October 26, 2015

The view from here: treating epilepsy in Maine is in the news

I’ll start this blog entry with a personal touch, revealing a little bit about where I live and then I will discuss an interesting debate going on in my home state.
I am very fortunate to live on a salt water river in Maine, and these photos were taken from my front yard at sunrise and sunset.  I live for my time on the water and had lots of wonderful boat rides this summer.   Soon to come to an end as the boat will be coming out of the water this week!
The river at dawn...

 And at sunset

  Since I work from a home office that overlooks this river, I have extra perks along with my wonderful job working for ASET!  How can you get stressed out with seals swimming by and eagles soaring overhead!  I am very thankful that I have this job and have enjoyed serving as Director of Education for ASET for eleven years now!  One of the things I like best is the vast variety of calls I receive every day.  Many calls are from the general public, seeking information about how to pursue a career in Neurodiagnostics.  Some of the most interesting calls come from technologists from all over the country each with a unique situation, seeking information or assistance.  Some examples:  where to find a policy and procedure document for carotid endarterectomies, justification for a salary increase, establishing a patient to technologist ratio for an epilepsy monitoring unit, and docs calling desperately seeking to hire qualified technologists!
Epilepsy has been in the news here lately.  Some children with epilepsy have a prescription for Diastat,  to be given emergently during a severe seizure.  Parents typically send a dose to school to be kept on hand, but the current state law allows only the school nurse to administer the medication and it must be kept locked up in the nurse’s office.  Practically, this can lead to significant delays in accessing and administering the drug quickly.  A group of parents are actively seeking to change the law to allow teachers to be trained and authorized to give the drug as well and keep in in the classroom.
Maine has also been in the news regarding the approval to distribute medical marijuana to patients while in the hospital.  Because it breaks federal law, hospitals cannot consider allowing medical marijuana to be given to in-patients without the risk of losing federal funds.  So parents are put in a difficult situation if they have determined that this treatment has been effective for a child who has epilepsy when the child is admitted for treatment.  News stories feature parents who admit to secretly bringing the drug in and giving to their child, and therefore committing a criminal act.  The two largest medical centers in Maine do dispense a synthetic marijuana, called marinol, to patients but there is a debate about its efficacy.  A bill allowing hospitals in the state to distribute medical marijuana did pass in the state legislature but was vetoed by the governor. 
I will be following the debate about these two controversial treatments for epilepsy.  At the ASET annual conference in Weston, FL this summer, Dr. Jason Sebesto, from the local Mayo Clinic, gave a great presentation:  “Cannabinoids and the Treatment of Epilepsy”.  Since technologists often discuss medications and treatments with their patients as they take a history, it is helpful to have an understanding of alternative treatments and the legal issues that patients encounter.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Neurodiagnostic Technologists: There just aren't enough of us! Read about how to help us recruit new students to the field!

The following is a guest blog from the Co-chair of the ASET Ambassador Program Task Force

Calling All ASET Ambassadors!

Meredith Milton, R. EEG/EP T., RPSGT



Improving the health of the people we serve

The ASET Marketing Committee has recently created the ASET Ambassador Program in order to actively attract and recruit new students to the field of Neurodiagnostics. This program is geared toward technologists who would like to volunteer to go out in their local communities and speak to students about their careers. This program was presented at the ASET Annual Conference and so far we have received a wonderful response. We want to make sure everyone gets a chance to hear about the program and has an opportunity to get involved.
If this is something that interests you, we’d love to have you join us in accomplishing our goal! The first thing you need to do is pick a target location – typically you want to choose a school in your area that would be receptive to you delivering a PowerPoint Presentation (which has already been prepared). The PowerPoint covers an abundance of information about Neurodiagnostics. This presentation can be geared towards students from elementary school all the way through college, and more recently we’ve added a new task force specifically assigned to recruiting Veterans that are looking to re-enter the workforce.  
Once you have signed up by filling out the short questionnaire on the ASET Website (see link below), you will receive all the information you need in order to present. You are provided with the following tools:
1.      Letter to the Facility: This is a professionally written letter explaining the goal of the Ambassador Program that you may give to the facility in which you would like to present.
2.      PowerPoint Presentation: There are two versions that are adjusted based on the age of your audience. The PowerPoint will guide you throughout your entire presentation.
3.      Presentation Script: The script is to be used with the PowerPoint. Utilizing it will help streamline your presentation.
4.      FAQ Videos: You can watch these beforehand to familiarize yourself with questions the audience members might ask you.
5.      Lastly, we provide you with promo materials to pass out after your presentation. We have Neurodiagnostic Pens and Pamphlets for the listeners to take home. Upon completion of your presentation, we also provide surveys for the audience members to fill out regarding the presentation. Our goal is to give these students all the information they need to develop a basic understanding of and interest in our field. The surveys even have an option for the students to request more information about Neurodiagnostics through the ASET Marketing Committee.
Once you have presented, you are required to return the students’ surveys and fill in a short survey yourself regarding your own experience with the program. And then, WE take it from there! After your first presentation you can be involved as little or as much as you like. As long as you successfully complete one presentation, you are officially an ASET Ambassador. You will receive 1 CEU (first time only), recognition in The Neurodiagnostic Journal, and an Ambassador Ribbon for your name badge at the Annual Conference.
Best of all, though, you will know you have presented a fulfilling career opportunity to students or veterans and contributed to the bright future of the Neurodiagnostic Profession. Help us accomplish our goals of: reaching future technologists, increasing Neurodiagnostic school enrollment, and creating a new generation of Neurodiagnostic professionals. We can’t wait for you to join us and we look forward to hearing from you soon!
To learn more about the ASET Ambassador Program, visit our website at: www.aset.org. The Ambassador Program information is listed under the Resources tab:  ASET Ambassador Program

If you are interested in becoming an ambassador for the profession, or know someone who is, please contact Sarah Dolezilek, ASET's Marketing and Communications Manager, at 816.931.1120 [106] or sarah@aset.org.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Guest Blog Entry: What I learned at ASET 2015

I am honored to post this blog entry, authored by Richard Vogel, Ph.D., DABNM who gave a presentation for the ASET 2015 Annual Conference Advanced IONM Course on August 1st.

Many thanks to Dr. Vogel for sharing his blog, and if you would like to read more from Dr. Vogel, please visit  http://neurologiclabs.com/.

August 2, 2015 at 18:19  •  Posted in Professionalism by Richard Vogel  • 
The Neurodiagnostic Society (ASET) is the largest national professional association for individuals involved in the study and recording of electrical activity in the brain and nervous system. The ASET 2015 annual meeting was held in Weston, Florida this past weekend, and I was privileged to be an invited speaker. In addition to me, IONM faculty included:

    Mark Stecker, MD, PhD
    Jeff Balzer, PhD, DABNM, FASNM
    Bryan Wilent, PhD, DABNM
    Mark Helderman, R.EEG/EP T., CNIM
    Rebecca Clark-Bash, R. EEG/EP T., CNIM, CLTM, FASNM
    Bernie Cohen, PhD, FACNS, FASNM
    Brett Netherton, MS, CNIM, FASN
    Stuart Hoffman, DO
    Ashley Kotrady, BS, CNIM
    Adam Doan, DC, DABNM
The first thing that I learned at the meeting is that the ASET annual meeting is a really, really good meeting. I think it is a must-attend event for anyone working in neurodiagnostics. I’ve been in the field for quite a few years now, and I just joined ASET last year…and I’ve never attended one of their meetings before. I have to say that it was one of the best meetings that I’ve ever attended. The people were so nice. The talks were fantastic! The scope of the talks ranged from beginner to advanced, so that everyone can benefit from the content. Obviously, I focused my attendance on the topic of neuromonitoring (IONM).
The second thing that I learned at the meeting (in talking to lots of people) is that there are quite a few technologists working in neurodiagnostics who are actually against technologist licensure because they think it will abolish the certifications that they’ve worked so hard to achieve. This is absolutely false, and I would encourage active members of the society to get the word out to clear up any confusion. I am a strong advocate for technologist licensure, and I support their ongoing endeavors to achieve licensure.
The third thing that I learned in listening to Dr. Cohen’s talk (which was a joint presentation with Brett Netherton), is that there are a lot of people out there working as technologists who are uncomfortable being called a “neurophysiologist”. Also, there are quite a few neurophysiologists out there who are uncomfortable being called a “technologist”. There are lots of different opinions about what job title one should have. I’m sure there will be more discussions on this topic.

The final thing that I learned at the meeting is that many people in neurodiagnostics feel that their employers don’t provide enough support for continuing education. I’m not just talking about financial support to attend conferences, but also time off to attend conferences and money to purchase books, etc. Some employers don’t see any benefit in continuing education. On more than one occasion I heard someone say that their company only cares about the bottom line ($). Some people had to foot the entire bill of traveling to the conference themselves! I think that’s really unfortunate. I met so many people who were just ecstatic about their opportunity to be at the conference and learn new information. The excitement for learning was palpable and contagious! That’s so refreshing!
I decided not to write about the content of the ASET talks/courses because I thought readers would be interested to hear some of the “other” topics that came up in conversation.
I’ve written previously about reasons to join a professional society. If you are not a member of a professional society, I strongly encourage you to join one.