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ECG Interpretation: What Nurses Need to Know

Higher Education Articles September 29, 2013

Nurses who are willing to take an ECG interpretation course can create added value to their resume with a skill that is widely used and needed.

An electrocardiogram or ECG/EKG is a tool that can help diagnose electrical and muscle functions of the heart. ECGs measure the electrical changes in the body due to muscle contraction. It then presents these measurements in a graphical form for interpretation. They can be used to show a baseline of the heart’s electrical activity, detect rhythm disturbances in the heart and even show the effects of various medicines on the heart.

ECGs are routinely used and are relatively simple to test with, but ECG interpretation takes some specialized training and skill.

A lot of ECG Interpretation training can take place on site, but certification will require more formal education.

What an ECG Interpreter Does

A person who interprets ECGs takes the information from the ECG that has been attached to a patient, and translates it from its graphical report into meaningful information that can be used in the patient’s diagnosis.

While an ECG technician is qualified to administer the test, and through experience may acquire skills to read them, most hospitals and medical facilities require someone certified in ECG Interpretation to read them.

They may work with electrocardiograms, sonograms, and ultrasounds.

Where Do ECG Interpreters Work?

Most ECG interpreters are employed in hospital settings. They may be required to work in emergency departments, cardiac units, and may even rehabilitation departments.

What is taught in an ECG Interpretation Course?

With this course, nurses are taught the basics in how to monitor the heart rate, read the ECG strip, and identify the danger sign that would jeopardize the patient’s condition.

Nurses can take the ECG interpretation course online or in the classroom. The cost will vary depending on the level of nursing ability and what medical branch the nurse works in.

What is the ECG Interpretation Salary?

The salary of the ECG Interpretation nurse will vary according to the region and facility to where the person is employed and also the level of experience. LPNs or LVNs who acquire the ECG Interpretation Certification may expect salaries reaching over $35,000 annually, if they are working for an individual company. Hourly that translates to $17.00. An LPN or LVN who is working for a private doctor earnings could be slightly less, at approximately $33,000 a year or around $16.28 hourly. The lowest earnings have been reported by LPNs and LVNs nurses who are working in hospitals with annual incomes of around $32,000 or about $15.44 an hour.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average median salary for RN’s in 2010 was just about $65,000 annually, so RN’s who achieve certification will obviously be compensated more, based on their original higher average salary.

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