Tuesday, December 26, 2017

New Informational Videos about Neurodiagnostic Technology on the ASET Website

It’s the day after Christmas and here in Maine we had a very white Christmas, as we were graced by two winter storms, one two days before Christmas and one on Christmas Day, which lasted all day!  This winter wonderland photo is the view from my porch after these storms.

The ASET Elves have been hard at work in their video studio workshop to create two new videos to help promote neurodiagnostic technology as a career.   It has been a long term strategic goal of ASET to build a qualified workforce and promote the development of sufficient formal education in Neurodiagnostics to add more skilled graduates to relieve the chronic nation-wide short staffing our neurodiagnostic departments.  I am really proud of the work that our committees and staff have done on these videos, and very impressed with the results.

The first video is one that could be played on a video monitor in a neurophysiology department waiting room or at a Neurodiagnostic Week promotional display.  This one explains the work that techs do and the kinds of tests we typically perform.  The target audience is the general public and anyone who may referred for neurodiagnostic testing. 
To view this video, please use this link: Public Service video about Neurodiagnostic Testing

The second video, recently completed and made available on our website, is more of a career information video, describing the work we do and the benefits of a career in Neurodiagnostics.  This one would be ideal to use when presenting information at a school to promote interest in our profession.  We will be adding this video to our ambassador program tool kit.
  To view this video, please use this link: Neurodiagnostic technologist career video

Our third new video is a short animated feature about the importance of licensure for Neurodiagnostic Technologists and to promote credentialing and regulation of practice in our industry to ensure that patients always receive the highest quality care and the best outcome of their diagnostic work-up or monitoring session.

  To view this video, please use this link: Licensure Public Service Announcement

I encourage all ASET members to show these videos to your patients, staff and at regional meetings to engage others to use these videos to educate the general public about our skills, our career and our future.  
(Maddie, myYellow Lab on Christmas Eve)

May 2018 bring good things to us all!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Attention all R. EEG T’s and R. EP T’s! New Rule on certification of ABRET credentials may affect YOU!

If you don’t have access to the ASET Newsletter and have not gone to the ABRET website recently, I am going to share this important update with you, and provide some explanation.

An article in the Fall 2017 ASET Newsletter announced a change in the rules for recertificaton of ABRET credentials.  If you were awarded the R. EEG T. or R EP T.  credential between 1964 and 2001, this was considered a “lifetime credential”.  However, ABRET has announced that ALL R. EEG Ts, and R. EP T’s will need to recertify in the future by obtaining 30 CEUs every 5 years moving forward.

There is a six-year span for the phasing-in of this new rule.  Technologists who had a lifetime credential may acquire CEUs starting August 1, 2017 through December 31, 2023.   The CEUs must be submitted to ABRET before the 2023 deadline, and instructions for how to complete the process can be found on the ABRET website, at the “For Certificants” tab.  At this tab you will also find information on “Acceptable Continuing Education”.  Basically, the CEUs you submit must be on topics related to your credential.  There is a “Recertification Handbook” on the ABRET website, and if you have additional questions, you are encouraged to contact them directly via the ABRET website, www.ABRET.org.

If you plan to retire, and are not planning to seek CEUs and go through the first recertification process, you can request ABRET to give you “Emeritus” status.  However, your registry will eventually expire and if you go back to working as a technologist after retirement, you will be listed as “credential expired” in the ABRET database.

Now that I have shared the news with you, I would like to share my insight into this ruling, since I am sure a few of my contemporaries who passed the EEG Registry Exam “in the old days” will perhaps find this difficult to accept.  Of course, as Director of Education for ASET, I have been an advocate of education on all levels for technologists!  I am a firm believer in “Life Long Learning”, whether it be work-related skills, or learning a new sport or hobby!  We learn so much over a lifetime!  A quote from Issac Asimov:  "The day you stop learning is the day you begin decaying"

The thing is, that for health care professionals, passing a credentialing exam is a declaration that you have met a minimum standard of skills and knowledge to do your job.  This indicates to your patients that you are competent to care for them and provide the necessary services required aid in the diagnosis and treatment of their medical conditions.  In virtually all other areas of allied health, when it comes to exams, continuing education is required ( respiratory therapy, radiology, physical therapy, and of course nursing.)  We sell ourselves and our credentials short and reduce credibility for the NDT credentials by separating out a group of individuals who do not have to seek CEUs. 

We can all agree that advances in medicine and health care technology occur at an amazingly rapid rate these days.  Without a doubt, some of these changes affect the way we interact with patients and perform tests and monitoring.  Did you know about the updates to the International Classification of Seizures?  Did you know about the recent changes in the ACNS guidelines for performing various NDT modalities? 

I think it is a good thing to be held responsible for maintaining current knowledge which will help us all provide the best patient care possible.  We at ASET will do our best to offer you interesting and meaningful continuing education that is affordable.  Investing in our future and the safety and well-being of our patients is a good thing! 

The primary factor which influenced ABRET’s decision to phase out lifetime credentials has to do with their goal to have all of their credentialing exams certified by a third party organization which provides a comprehensive assessment and review of professional examinations.  ABRET credentials will gain recognition and credibility if outside certification is obtained.  Exams that award a lifetime credential and do not require CEUs cannot obtain approval for the exam process.  So, in order to comply with industry standards, ABRET had to update their rules.

Let’s all get on board with this, since we do very important and detailed work and deserve respect and recognition as health care professionals!   I will close this blog entry with a link to the Wikipedia definition of “Health Care Professionals”.  Scroll down to the last section on “Regulation and Registration” and think about it…  Wikipedia

Monday, August 21, 2017

I missed seeing you all at the ASET Annual Conference in Tucson!

I watched the pictures come in on the meeting app, so I know you had a great view in the fantastic meeting location!  I had to console myself with the view from my home office.  That is an eagle who came to visit!  

I can’t tell you how much I missed seeing all of the ASET annual conference attendees in Tucson this year!   As you probably know, the major part of my work for ASET is planning our annual conference.  I start working on program content in January of each year for the August event.  I try to have all of the session presentations assigned by the end of March.  After that, it is just dealing with the details and providing speakers with the information they need to do a good job.

I always explain my job to people by saying that the on-site management of the conference is like being Santa Claus on Christmas Eve!  I work all year to make this happen and get such joy from seeing the actual program role out!

I have heard that many of you noted my absence and asked why I was not there.  I stayed home this year because my husband had surgery on his right foot this spring to treat a bone infection, and since he is diabetic he has been slow to heal.  He has multiple complications from the diabetes, and just could not manage alone.  All I can say is that this is a devastating disease that creeps up on you and robs you of your good health!  He is doing well, healing O.K. and I trust he will be fine soon.

I hope you all had a great time at the conference!  I will be able to read your comments in your speaker surveys and meeting evaluations.   I really take your suggestions to heart and strive to make the next year’s conference better than the last!  
will start working on the 2018 program for New Orleans in a few months, so if you wish to give a talk, have a topic in mind or something you want to request on the program, please contact me!

ASET has a long history with New Orleans meetings and it will be great to go back to the Big Easy!

The 2018 conference theme is NOLA: Network, Organize, Learn – ASET!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Neurodiagnostic Skills Summit: Aug. 12, 2017 at the ASET Annual Conference

A quote:  “The best way to predict the future is to invent it”  - Alan Kay

I anticipate that this is going to be a very dynamic and meaningful discussion at the ASET Annual Conference in Tucson next month!   If you are coming to the conference I suggest that you stay for this final plenary event.  If you are not going to be at the conference, we will be doing an audio recording of all plenary sessions and they will be synchronized with the slides from the presentation and made available via the ASET website shortly after the conference.

Ever since I finished a one-year EEG technology program and found my first job as a tech in 1979 I have been listening to an on-going discussion and debate about what we do, our scope of practice, and what we should be able to do as part of our jobs in the clinical neurophysiology lab.  Over the years, some of the issues under debate have changed.  We used to ponder  over whether or not techs should be allowed to administer sedation to patients.  That has pretty much gone the way of the dinosaur.  Techs used to insert nasopharyngeal leads, also thankfully relegated to the past.

During the skills summit, I anticipate that the audience and panelists will collaboratively address questions such as:

What level of reporting is appropriate for a technologist?

  What is a technical description? 

What should a technologist do when recognizing a waveform change that indicates a pending crisis that might require an urgent intervention in an O.R. case or the ICU?

Without a doubt, expansion of the neurodiagnostic technologist’s role is in our future!  ABRET has recognized this trend by developing an advanced practice exam for data analysis. 

The four panelists will offer a wide range of perspectives on pertinent issues: 

·         Dr. Joseph Drazkowski will address the physician’s perspective on the technologist as a physician extender, and how we can help provide coverage for reviewing a high volume of continuous EEG recordings.

·         Cathy Boldery, working in the field of IONM for many years with her own business, will address the question of what skills we might need in IONM in the future.

·         Sabrina Galloway has worked independently to start a business offering remote LTM coverage, and is also very experienced with ICU recordings, and she will discuss what skills we will need in this area of neurophysiology in the future.

·         Patricia Trudeau is representing ABRET on the panel, as she is part of their committee charged with developing an advanced practice exam for data analysis in neurodiagnostics.

In addition to our expert panel, members of the audience are encouraged to share their perspectives and stories that highlight the need for a higher level of skills moving forward.

Play an active role in your future by anticipating change and developing the skills you need to thrive!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Building a Strong Educational Foundation

Sometimes life presents you with an allegory and this one really spoke to me.  Living here at the end of a private dirt road in Maine, I have many opportunities to observe nature closely.  The spring weekends here on the mid-coast have been rainy, cold and windy.  I came home from running errands to find bunches of twigs and bits of lichen, blown by the wind, scattered around my porch.   I looked up to see a very cold and frustrated robin perched on the lintel of a window, seeking shelter under the porch roof.  She had been trying to build a nest up there but the trim board was too narrow to hold her nest.  When she finally flew away, I gathered up her nesting materials and moved them to a protected eve that would make much more spacious digs for her.  I was hoping she would come back and try to build her nest there, but she must have looked at real estate elsewhere.

To me, the image of the robin’s nest defeated speaks to the need to choose wisely, start well before the storm arrives, and build a foundation that will last you a lifetime.   That foundation is your knowledge and the learning you acquire in your career.

I can’t tell you how many calls I get from technologists who have many years’ experience in neurodiagnostics, who love their jobs and seem dedicated to producing quality EEGs, but who never took the EEG Registry Exam, or attempted once and failed to pass the exam.  Their story always goes like this:  “My new administrator has set a goal of having all techs in the lab be registered.  If I don’t pass my Board Exam I will be out of a job.”

The thing is, that obtaining a credential is part of building a strong nest.   It prepares you for the future, even if your current job does not require a credential now.   I refer people to the ABRET website every day to read the eligibility requirements for the EEG Registry Exam but many technologists are not aware that their Pathway IV, for on-the-job trained technologists without a minimum of an Associate’s Degree, will be expiring at the end of this year.  If you entered the field after 2015 you cannot meet the requirements.   If you do still qualify, you’ll need to start studying and acquiring the 60 ASET CEUs required ASAP!   But build your knowledge to remain strong!   I have had techs call me to tell me that they need to prepare for the exam ASAP but they don’t have time to study, and ask me what I can recommend to get them up to speed quickly.   The answer is:  you can’t do this quickly!  The knowledge base required is substantial.  You’ll have to study a lot, whether using books or on-line courses!

Your mind cannot retain massive amounts of facts in one setting!   Frequent short study sessions and returning to review subjects often will help you recall topics you are learning.  If you are considering obtaining more education in neurodiagnostics and are not sure of the resources available to you, please contact me: faye@aset.org

So, don’t be like my robin!   Build a strong foundation that won’t get blown away!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

For all areas of Neurodiagnostics: I am seeking ASET members to volunteer to serve as on-line course reviewers!

The ASET CEU Committee is responsible for reviewing and approving all ASET CEU applications submitted prior to awarding CEUs to any educational event or resource covering neurodiagnostic topics.  They are kept rather busy with all of the requests that come in:  regional society meetings, national meetings, hospital-based weekly or monthly record reviews, and webinars.

Recently we have noticed a trend, as we are seeing more requests for CEUs for on-line courses developed by various providers.  Reviewing on-line courses presents a unique challenge.  With more traditional educational events, contact hours are easy to calculate: 1 hour of lecture time = 1 CEU!  You can go by the clock for start and finish time of each lecture in a meeting program.

On-line courses do not have a specific start and end time.  So how do we determine contact hours?  The reading materials in an on-line course lesson may take one person 30 minutes to read and comprehend and take another person 60 minutes!   Factors that may affect time spent on a lesson include familiarity with the topic, overall reading skills and study habits.  A technologist who is a CNIM with years of experience in the O.R. may breeze through an on-line IONM course to obtain CEUs.  A technologist just starting to work in the O.R. will likely be unfamiliar with the topics covered and spend much more time on lessons.

This brings me to the new policy that the ASET CEU committee has established for the review of on-line courses submitted to us for ASET CEU approval.  We are going to develop a list of course reviewers to cover all areas of neurodiagnostics.  When an on-line course covering a specific modality comes in, we will contact the appropriate volunteer from that list to do a course review.  The provider of that course will be required to open that course to the designated reviewer.  The reviewer will go through all lessons, learning activities, quizzes and exams in that course while keeping a log of time it takes to complete these activities, and will report the results to the ASET CEU committee.  Determination of the contact hours will be based on this unbiased, third-party assessment.

We will award the course reviewer 5 ASET CEUs for completing the review, regardless of the number of CEUs calculated, since the review of the course can be considered an educational opportunity.

It is important to note that once assigned a course, we will require that the course review begin promptly and that you are able to report your findings within a month in order to fulfill our obligation to reply to the applicant in a reasonable time frame. 

If you would like to be included on a list of course reviewers, please contact me at faye@aset.org and I will send you a short form to fill out which will provide basic information so that we can include you on a list.  I will also be glad to answer any questions you may have.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Attention Neurodiagnostic Technologists! Read about opportunities ASET is offering now!

I want to highlight two very different opportunities for neurodiagnostic technologists.
Are you getting ready to take the ABRET EEG Exam?

If you are planning to take the ABRET EEG Registry Exam and are seeking ASET CEUs for one of their eligibility pathways, or if you simply need help to prepare for the exam and enhance your chance of passing the exam, please consider coming to the spring 2017 ASET EEG Boot Camp!

We are hosting the EEG Boot Camp on the University of Alabama campus in Birmingham, AL on April 22 and 23rd.  We offer 14 contact hours covering the topics you will need to know for the exam.  We include multiple interactive workshops in the course so that you can practice concepts as you learn them.  We also include lectures about all kinds of EEG patterns and clinical correlations to improve your EEG pattern recognition skills.  view EEG Boot Camp course schedule
  The early bird registration rate is offered until March 24th so please sign up soon and save on the registration fee.  Link to ASET seminar registration: register for the EEG Boot Camp

We have reserved a block of rooms at a nearby hotel, in walking distance of the UAB campus for the very reasonable rate of $119 per night.  Please note that our room block expires on March 24th, so please do not delay making your reservation!  Here is the link to the hotel information:  hotel information.

If you don’t need EEG Boot Camp, how about presenting an abstract at the ASET annual conference in Tucson, AZ?  We are currently seeking both platform presentation abstracts and poster abstracts.  Abstract presenters get free registration for the day of their presentation, so this represents a savings worth considering!    Abstract topics are very diverse!  You can do a case study, discuss a new lab protocol, a management topic, a research topic, or you name it!  Here is a link to our abstract application.  We have a due date of March 15th!  Abstracts will be presented on Aug. 10 & 11th.  Here is a link to the ASET Annual Conference Abstract Application: abstract application
Platform abstracts have 30 minute time slots.  Posters are on display in the exhibit hall and on our meeting app.
As added incentive to consider an abstract I have included a picture of the lovely La Paloma Resort, where we have rooms available for $90 per night!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Is the Neurodiagnostic Equipment you are using keeping patient data secure?

Although most techs do get HIPPA compliance training on a yearly basis, you won’t want to miss next week’s ASET monthly webinar, on Wed. Feb. 15th!  It is not about general guidelines and refraining from talking about patient care in the elevator!

 The topic is about HIPPA compliance for our neurodiagnostic equipment.  I heard Simon Griffin give a short version of this talk as an abstract at the 2016 ASET annual conference in Pittsburgh.  His discussion is a real eye opener!  He asks some reality check questions about the equipment that we leave in various places all over the hospital.   We enter a lot of patient data right at the recording system these days, including patient history.  We leave these systems at patients’ bedsides overnight, untended. 

We have remote monitors set up in nursing stations so that others can see what is going on in the epilepsy monitoring unit’s patient rooms.  Who else might take note of what is going on in the patient rooms via that monitor in addition to the nursing staff who assist with monitoring patients?

Do you have one password for all systems you use in the department?  Who might discover passwords and use them without your knowledge?

Simon is an excellent speaker and an expert on neurodiagnostic equipment so don’t miss this one!
This informative ASET webinar begins at 1:00 p.m. EST, noon CST on Wed. Feb. 15th.  To register for the live event and have an opportunity to discuss your concerns with our speaker, please use this link to go to our registration webpage:  webinar registration
If you can't attend the live event, we will have the recording available for purchase soon after the event.  The pricing for both the live and the recorded event is $25 for ASET members, and $40 for non-members.  One ASET CEU is awarded to those who complete the webinar quiz.  A separate webinar quiz is available for purchase.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New Intra-operative monitoring technique will revolutionize the use of MEPs

This ASET webinar takes place tomorrow, Wed. January 18, at noon central time.   The presenter is Dr. Ernesto Lima.  The topic is “"Linked Quadri-Polar MEP Stimulation for Minimizing Body Movement" This webinar will be recorded and made available for purchase for those of you who cannot participate tomorrow.  The cost of the webinar is $25 for ASET members and $40 for non-members.  There will be one ASET CEU awarded for the webinar, when participants purchase and complete the webinar quiz.

To register for the live event follow directions on the ASET website: ASET webinar information

Check our website under “recorded webinars” early next week to purchase the recorded version.

Dr. Lima first presented this topic as an abstract at the ASET 2016 Annual Conference in Pittsburgh, PA.  There was quite a buzz in the room with lots of questions and positive comments about the technique he explained, and attendees crowded around him after his presentation to talk more about this new technique.  This is quite revolutionary and may change the way you do MEPs in the O.R.

He will describe a new way to link electrodes to obtain a more generalized spread of the current during stimulation.  This will allow you to do more frequent MEPs without objection from the surgeon who does not appreciate the distraction caused by frequent relocation of stimulating electrodes.   Now you can do MEPs even during intradural tumor resection and do it safely with little to no movement using the linked Quadripolar technique.  Listen to Dr. Lima's presentation a find out how.  Hint - head measurement is key.