New program in metro addresses need for workers in one health care profession

Health
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OLATHE, Kan. — On this Labor Day, many of the jobs with good pay and plenty of openings can be found in health care. A new program in our area is preparing students for one of those careers.

In a simulation lab, students measure the head so they’ll know exactly where to place electrodes. It’s what neurodiagnostic technologists do. They monitor brain and nervous system activity. It could be a patient with epilepsy or someone with a sleep disorder. The need for those techs is great.

“Our field has a need of about 10,000 more techs in the next couple of years,” said Anna Beck, a program manager with Children’s Mercy Hospital.

She added, “We have children that come to Children’s Mercy from three and four hours away just for an EEG because there are no techs in their area.”

Children’s Mercy recently partnered with Johnson County Community College to open the only training program in our area. It’s a two-year associate degree, the only one in the country focusing on pediatric care.

The students can count on jobs that will pay $40,000 annually and up — way up if they get additional training to do monitoring during brain surgery.

“When they do find that mentor and do those 100 cases, they’ll graduate and be boarded and make about six figures for salary,” said Renee Portmann, who leads the program at JCCC.

Erica Rappard is one of the students.

“They tell you you never work a day in your life if you do what you love, but it doesn’t always pay very well. So it’s nice to have something that’s both helping people that pays well,” said Rappard.

She applied for the program after she had sleep testing and saw what the techs do.

“The trickiest part, I think, is moving the hair,” said Rappard.

She says practicing on a plastic model is a lot different than measuring, marking and placing electrodes on the head of a human with hair.

The professional organization for neurodiagnostic technologists, ASET, is based in Kansas City. Click here for more.

For more on the JCCC program, click here.

 

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