Emergency Room Technician: Overview of ER Technician Training
Emergency room (ER) technicians work in emergency departments dealing with patients suffering from medical emergencies. Technicians assist emergency room doctors, paramedics and registered nurses with moving and treating patients. They provide wound care for patients, take blood samples for testing and set up IVs. Many employers require technicians to become certified in other fields related to emergency room services.
Aspiring ER technicians can receive training by enrolling in ER technician certificate programs. Courses cover techniques used in caring for emergency patients, including how to securely move patients, read electrocardiogram (EKG) scans, set up IVs and draw blood. Some certificate programs also provide administrative training in health information management and healthcare software programs.
Although some programs are designed specifically for aspiring ER technicians, several job postings listed in July 2011 on CareerBuilder.com stated that some employers preferred ER technicians who had received emergency medical technician (EMT) or Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training. There are different levels of EMT certificate and associate's degree programs, including EMT-basic and EMT-paramedic programs. EMT coursework covers how to deal with trauma, cardiac and airway emergencies; use emergency equipment and perform patient assessments, while paramedic programs cover more advanced topics, such as pharmacology, pathophysiology, setting up IVs and administering medications. Almost all EMT and paramedic programs require students to participate in a set amount of clinical hours working with experienced EMTs and paramedics. Graduates of EMT and paramedic programs must pass an examination to become licensed and participate in continuing education to maintain licensure.
CNA programs train students in upholding a patient's rights, taking vital signs, providing personal care and performing other basic nursing duties. Students may also be required to complete clinical rotations in which they apply concepts learned in the classroom to work settings. After completing their training programs, individuals must pass a state board exam to become certified.
According to July 2011 job postings on CareerBuilder.com, most employers required that ER technicians be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and basic life support (BLS). Some ER technician, EMT and CNA programs provide students with the training needed to earn CPR/BLS certification. However, it is also possible to enroll in CPR/BLS certification programs through medical centers, colleges or universities. These programs teach students how to relieve choking, perform manual chest compressions and use defibrillators. Some employers may also prefer that ER technicians hold additional certifications, such as phlebotomy, advanced cardiovascular life support (ACLS) and pediatric advanced life support (PALS) certifications.
Individuals who plan to deal with sick children are almost always required to obtain PALS certification. PALS certification courses provide training in dealing with cardiac and respiratory emergencies in infants and children. ACLS certification courses teach individuals how to deal with patients who experience conditions such as cardiac arrest and stroke. As with CPR and BLS certifications, obtaining ACLS or PALS certification requires completing training modules followed by passing practical examinations. In addition to being found at medical centers, colleges and universities, several training module programs are available online, but practical examinations may need to be taken in person.
Salary and Career Info
According to data collected by PayScale.com, emergency room technicians earned a median annual salary of $27,591 as of November 2013. Emergency room technicians working in California reported the highest rate of pay by far among other states surveyed, earning roughly $2-$6 more per hour as of 2013. A PayScale.com survey of 59 ER technicians also revealed a five-out-of-five-star job satisfaction rating, indicating that emergency medical technicians are extremely satisfied with their occupation. This may be due to the fast-paced ER environment and potentially rewarding nature of the work.
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