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Are You an EMT or Paramedic? A Rewarding Career in Nuclear Cardiology Awaits

Posted on: 11.14.19

EMT and Paramedic Career Change

Are you an EMT or Paramedicexploring your career options? Here’s something that may not have crossed your radar yet – you can transfer your skills to become a Cardiac Stress Technician (CST) for Digirad!

A career in nuclear cardiology is challenging, yet rewarding. As a CST, you will think on your feet, use your critical care skills, and meet a wide variety of physicians and patients serving a mobile unit. Digirad offers regular hours without 48-hour shifts!

Interested in hearing more? We interviewed Jonathan Flynn, a Cardiac Stress Technician with Digirad, who has more than two decades of experience in the EMS field. Jonathan was hired in 2008 as a Cardiac Stress Technician and is now the Lead CST for the Houston area. He manages cardiac stress testing as well as other operational tasks.

Get the bonus content: Key Skills for Cardiac Stress Technicians

What does a typical day look like for a CST?

The typical day of a Cardiac Stress Technician looks different from an EMT or Paramedic on an ambulance, but there are many shared skills and activities.

“A typical day begins when we show up at the office and get our paperwork and equipment for the day, load up, and drive to get to the client,” Jonathan says. “Once we get there, we unload and set up our equipment. The Nuclear Medicine Technologist sets up the imaging equipment and we also set up the patient preparation area and treadmill.”

“We then start serving the patients, we do a short interview and assessment, where we obtain an H&P, explain the procedure to them, get consent, and get them prepared with an IV line inserted. The nuclear technologist then comes and injects the patient with the radiopharmaceutical for the resting images. The patient will then go to the waiting area and drink water before being called back in for the resting images. Depending on what the physician orders, we will then do either a chemical or physical stress test. We continuously monitor vital signs throughout the test.”

How many patients do they usually see? “Our average day consists of around 12 patients, and we get back to the office between 3 pm and 5 pm. We then get our equipment ready for the next day and go home.”

What’s it like to go from EMS to Nuclear Cardiology?

Jonathan highlights some of the key similarities and benefits of the move to nuclear cardiology:

  • Your skillset is transferable. “As far as skills for this job, a lot of your paramedic skills transfer across. I did do a CCT (Certified Cardiographic Technician) course to become qualified for the cardiac side, specifically. I also do a lot of additional learning on the side to keep up with any changes or new technologies and medications coming out,” Jonathan says.
  • You still have the independence that you get in an EMS role. “Here, you and your partner run the day,” he says.
  • “Every patient and office we work with is different. Days are exciting and varied.”
  • You work regular Monday to Friday hours. “When you’re on the ambulance, you’re doing a 24 – 48-hour shift, often constantly moving,” Jonathan says. “You’re exhausted when you get off. Here, I work Monday to Friday and get to spend weekends with my family.”

Broaden your career options

“A lot of paramedics think their only options are the ambulance or the ER,” says Jonathan. “I happened to search a job board and saw a position advertised for a Paramedic in Nuclear Cardiology. I’d never heard of this position before but was drawn to it. Everyone tends to have their thing they’re drawn to and mine is cardiology.”

Get the bonus content: Key Skills for Cardiac Stress Technicians

For Jonathan, it was a great fit. “I look forward to every day that I come to work because it’s always a different office, different atmosphere, and different patients. We develop really good relationships with the physicians and the office. They treat you as part of the family.”

Does he find the role challenging and as interesting as the EMT role? “In this role, you get more of the critical care aspect than you do as a paramedic,” he says. “You really specialize in the cardiology side of things and get to see many conditions frequently that you may only see once or twice as a paramedic.”

What does it take?

Having a background as an EMT or Paramedic helps tremendously. You have to be a team player with critical thinking skills and the ability to react quickly whenever there’s a problem.

“You have to be good at communicating with the patient and really hearing what they’re saying, picking up on the little things,” says Jonathan. “For example, women often don’t have chest pains. We had one patient today and she was experiencing back pain. Her imaging came back positive.”

Paying attention to the details is very important. “What really intrigues me about this is that there are so many different complex pieces – they’re constantly moving,” he says. “We tend to do what we do because we love it and can make a real difference. I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve imaged people and sent them straight to the cath lab upon discovering significant occlusion in the ‘widow maker.’”

Of course, you need top-notch EMS skills in this role. “I get to use a lot of my critical care skills in this work. On top of that, if we have a seriously ill patient who goes into cardiac arrest, I can help them until EMS arrives,” Jonathan says.

What about career advancement?

Jonathan has undergone considerable career advancement since joining Digirad, moving to the role of Lead CST for the Houston area. He appreciates being recognized for his work and having the opportunity to make an impact operationally. He also now has some very specialized nuclear cardiology skills:

“I’m now at a point where I can do everything with that camera except injecting the radioisotope (I lack the qualification to do that),” he says. “Ten years ago, I had a ‘job,’ now I look at this role as a career and where I want to be.”

Final thoughts

“Everything I loved about EMS I have in this role, but I don’t have to work those 48-hour shifts anymore!” Jonathan says. The autonomy and balance that goes with the Cardiac Stress Technician role give him more options with his time.

Importantly, Jonathan enjoys the relationships he cultivates working as part of the Digirad team. “I get to build more of a relationship with patients [than the EMS role] too. We might see the same people over a period of years and really get to know them.”

Interested in joining Digirad? Check out current vacancies on our career page here.

What types of positions does Digirad hire?

Posted on: 01.03.17

Digirad is a diverse company that offers unique career opportunities for medical professionals. From seasoned veterans to recent college graduates, we’re looking for the most qualified medical professionals in our industry. So, what types of positions does Digirad hire? Let’s take a look…

Nuclear Medicine Career Opportunities

Most of our positions are in mobile healthcare, so you should be a self-starter, enjoy being on the go, and working independently. Tech savviness is a must as we use technology to submit reports and communicate with the home office. We’re looking for energetic, professional candidates with strong communication and customer service skills that will proudly represent our company.

Cardiac Stress Technicians (CST)
We generally look for a skill set that includes emergency medicine and advanced cardiac life support (ACLS). The training and experience of a paramedic or an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT-I) is an excellent match for the qualifications of a Cardiac Stress Technician. Exercise physiologists, EKG technicians, and nurses may also be a good match for this role.

Ultrasound Technologists
The ultrasound technologists we seek are generally specialists in echo, vascular or general ultrasounds. Very few candidates specialize in all three modalities, and those that have all three are highly sought after. This is a degreed position with the ability to earn additional registries for specialties. These candidates are also known as Sonographers from hospitals, imaging centers, and other healthcare providers.

Nuclear Medicine Technologists
Nuclear Medicine Technologist is another degreed position with certification by NMTCB or ARRT(N), and requires additional skills. Digirad NMTs are in different offices each day, so communication, dealing with different personalities, and being able to take direction is key. Digirad NMTs represent the highest standard of excellence in the field.

CT, MRI, and PET/CT Technologists
DMS Health Technologies is a division of Digirad that specializes in mobile healthcare. We typically hire mobile techs for field positions who are either CT/MRI specialized or CT/PET specialized. Candidates should have the appropriate licenses and certifications and be able to demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the imaging procedures that meet the quality expectations of the patient, the referring physician and the radiologist. Following orders and protocols, administering medication, viewing images for quality and transferring them to the customer for interpretation are the key responsibilities of these positions. These positions also travel a given route during the workweek and, depending upon the customers’ locations, may require an overnight stay.

Cardiac Monitoring Career Opportunities

Digirad’s cardiac monitoring division, Telerhythmics, provides 24-hour monitoring by experienced critical care trained nurses who maintain expertise in adult and pediatric electrophysiology. This division looks for:

Cardiac Trained Nurses
Either an RN or an LPN who has gained cardiac experience from working in a hospital setting or an independent diagnostic facility setting can fill our nurse positions. Fluent EKG reading is a must, as is strong communication and customer service skills, since speaking and coordinating with patients and physicians via telephone is a major responsibility of this position.

Clinical Technician
The clinical technicians we hire must be CCT or CRAT certified and have some prior work experience in a hospital telemetry setting or an independent diagnostic testing facility setting. The training and EKG reading experience of an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) is also a qualifying match for our clinical technician position. Our most sought-after candidates are energetic with strong communication skills who have the technical training, but also excellent customer service skills.

Does this sound like you?

At Digirad, we continually search for candidates who are driven and motivated, are self-starters and look forward to exercising authority and autonomy in managing their workday. If you have the experience and are looking for more freedom, a consistent schedule, and to be part of a select team, Digirad may be the ideal place for you.

Ready for freedom? You Have Options.

Posted on: 09.01.16

Are you an EMT or paramedic who’s tired of 48-hour shifts, working every other weekend, or missing dinner with friends because you’ve just finished a double shift? Crazy schedules may be fine for the short-term, but it wears on you over time whether you realize it or not. In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to work weekends; Monday through Friday would be a typical work week, holidays would be spent with family, and “on-call” would be banned from your vocabulary.

Your skill set gives you options

You may think your particular skill set is best suited for a hospital setting where hours are long and sometimes unpredictable. That’s not necessarily the case. If you have emergency medicine or advance cardiac life support experience, if you’re a nurse, a paramedic, EMT, or an EKG technician, your skills are highly transferable. This means you have options. Hospitals are not the only employers that offer Ultrasound, Nuclear and Stress Techs a competitive salary and benefits package. If you’re looking for a change, maybe it’s time to sit down and have a conversation. What’s the harm in checking out your career options, especially if it opens your eyes to something new?

Freedom, balance, and autonomy

Digirad continuously searches for qualified candidates with these particular skill sets, and we offer competitive employee benefits packages (vacation days, health care, and 401(k) plan).

A position with Digirad provides you new-found freedom, a consistent schedule, and much-needed balance between your work life and home life. Why not leave the drama, chaos, and the bureaucracy behind and let Digirad help you build a career?

Are we a good match?

Digirad is looking for the best of the best. Not only is experience heavily weighted, but communication skills are high on the list as well. Candidates also have to be able to leverage their outstanding customer service skills and adjust their approach as needed. Depending upon personalities, that may sometimes mean taking the lead, while other times require taking direction.

If you’re an individual who works well on your own, is reliable, and self-motivated, a position with Digirad may be a great fit. If you’re looking for a consistent workweek, without on-call responsibility, this may be the change you’ve been looking for. Reclaim your weekends and holidays!

Want to learn more? We’d love to have a conversation with you about potentially joining our elite group. Contact our Career Center to start the discussion.

Digirad — Revolutionary solid-state nuclear cardiology equipment and services.

Making Healthcare Convenient. As Needed. When Needed. Where Needed.