Non-urgent advice: Profile
Trainee cardiac scientist
Cardiology Diagnostics - Outpatients
Healthcare science specialism
Education and work-based learning
As a first year Cardiac Scientist trainee a core part of my role is to gain experience and learn skills in interrelated departments whilst gathering evidence of competence. Rotations in cardiology, respiratory and vascular science highlight the multifaceted nature of disease and the importance of a multidisciplinary approach in disease management. The role involves practical learning in other areas such as radiology and biochemistry and understanding how this relates to alternative diagnoses / treatments.
My role is patient facing and involves:
- Using a wide range of tests to diagnose and monitor common heart conditions.
- Analysing and interpreting results and writing reports.
- Assisting in the treatment of common heart conditions as an integral member of a multidisciplinary team.
Electrocardiography (ECG) is an important non-invasive test that can help identify an arrhythmia or coronary artery disease. As a cardiac scientist I perform and interpret the results of diagnostic tests including 12-lead ECG analysis in clinic.
Continuous 24-hour holter recordings and exercise stress testing require ECG analysis and report writing which impact on the patient treatment pathway. I am in the learning stage of echocardiography which can assess myocardial function following a heart attack or in heart failure and it can detect valve problems, congenital heart conditions (e.g. septal defects) or inherited heart conditions (e.g. cardiomyopathies).
Cardiac scientists obtain images and heart function information and write reports that are essential to the patient’s diagnosis and treatment. Cardiac scientists assist in the Cardiac Catheter lab with implantation of permanent pacemakers. We are responsible for preparing and evaluating the device, pacemaker clinics, inpatient pacemaker checks, analysing remote ECG data and writing reports on the findings.
Our cardiac scientists have been integral in supporting overrun and short staffed areas through redeployment. I have been doing a supportive role for the oncology / haematology wards and day units collecting blood for transfusions, chemotherapy, patient medicines and taking urgent blood samples to the biochemistry labs. Last year one of our trainees created a Covid-19 diagnostic and clinical decision pathway which was published in the BMJ’s Postgraduate Medical Journal:
Following a Covid-19 department risk assessment we adapted our workplace by allocating a maximum number of people to be allowed in each room, installing safety screens, displaying signs encouraging social distancing and detailing PPE procedures and installing additional hand sanitisers.
We continued to provide essential services for high priority patients via the rapid access chest pain and heart failure pathways and cardio-oncology patients. The department have adapted working practices by performing focused inpatient echo scans for Covid-19 patients following triage. Designated machines for Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 scans avoid cross contamination in addition to stringent cleaning protocols and switching our monthly meetings online.
Constantly learning new things and interacting with patients. It is incredibly rewarding to know that the testing, analysis and report writing that we do are an important part of the patient’s treatment.
Healthcare Scientists have shown great versatility in response to Covid-19 including delivery of drive through spirometry and phlebotomy services. Healthcare Scientists can play a leading role in producing more innovative solutions like this in the coming months.