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Degree Overview: Associate of Arts (A.A.) Degree in Invasive Cardiovascular Technology

Majors Overview February 19, 2014

Those interested in helping patients that have blood vessel or heart problems should look into an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree program in invasive cardiovascular technology. Students will be taught the skills required to help specialists and physicians monitor patients during heart surgery and perform procedures, such as cardiac catheterization.

A.A. Programs in Invasive Cardiovascular Technology

Students enrolled in an associate degree program in invasive cardiovascular technology are imparted the skills and knowledge needed in assisting physicians during procedures that require the surgeons to insert a catheter (a thin tube) into the artery of a patient. Students can expect to become adept at performing rudimentary technologist duties. For instance, they can learn to identify arterial blockages or other problems by moving a catheter along an artery leading to the heart.

Students also learn procedures needed to provide assistance during balloon angioplasty aimed at clearing blockages without having to resort to surgery. Schools usually offer these degrees as Associate in Science or Associate of Applied Science programs. Students can complete most associate degree programs with two years of full-time study done at a technical school, community college or allied health school.

Educational Requirements

Admission criteria usually require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma, in addition to a minimum grade point average in courses completed in high school. Students may also have to complete courses in chemistry, math and basic biology, before they are admitted to a cardiovascular technology program. Communications courses are also required to be completed by students seeking admission to some programs.

Coursework

Apart from general education classes, specific clinical work and cardiovascular technology studies are included in the coursework that is devised to impart practical training to a student. Coursework may include topic areas such as:

•Pharmacology
•Health care policy
•Psychology
•Medical terminology
•Cardiovascular physiology
•Electrocardiogram interpretation
•Radiation safety practices

Job and Wage Outlook

A higher-than-average job growth rate of 24% has been projected for cardiovascular technicians and technologists during the decade from 2008 to 2018 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). The optimistic projection is based on the assumption that an aging population will result in an increased incidence of heart disease (BLS). In January 2012, a cardiac catheterization technologist took home an average annual wage of $57,930.

Certification and Continuing Education Choices

Cardiovascular technologists can pursue continued education aimed at learning new techniques and updating their skills in the field. Several online classes are offered to members of the Alliance of Cardiovascular Professionals. Cardiovascular technologists with certification are given preference by job givers; such professional certification can be obtained from agencies such as the Cardiovascular Credentialing International. Those who graduate from an accredited invasive cardiovascular technology program can earn the registered cardiovascular invasive specialist, level 4 credential through the passage of an exam.

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