What is an Intraoperative Neuromonitoring Technician & How I Got This Job
Courtesy of BizFluent
Intraoperative neuromonitoring or IONM technologists
We work alongside anesthesiologists and surgeons in operating rooms, monitoring brain signals of patients and testing their nervous system to reduce or avoid surgical complications. We use technologies like electromyography, somatosensory-evoked potentials, and electroencephalography (EEG), among others. As of 2011, very few standardized training programs or legislative requirements for IONM technologists exist, but you can become a technologist by following a few different paths and receiving certification from the American Board of Registration of Electroencephalographic and Evoked Potential Technologists (ABRET). In some cases, you may be able to obtain employment as an IONM technologist if you have a background or years of experience in a field like neuroscience, audiology medicine, neurophysiology or another health profession (this is how I did it).
Degrees and Certifications needed:
Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degrees
Basic Life Support (BLS)/ Basic Cardiac Life Support (BCLS) Certification
Associate’s Degree Route
Obtain an associate's degree in electroneurodiagnostic technology (END), accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. An END program, offered by vocational schools, community colleges and training hospitals, typically takes two years. You'll receive your hands-on technical training in surgical technologies like evoked potential (EP), EEG and intraoperative monitoring.
Enroll in a course leading to CPR certification and Basic Cardiac Life Support certification. You need at least the CPR certification to become credentialed as a registered technician in a neurodiagnostic technology. You can find hospitals and local Red Cross chapters that offer CPR and BCLS programs.
Apply for certification offered by ABRET in one or more neurodiagnostic technologies, such as EEG, EP or Long-Term Monitoring. Pass the exam required to receive your credential as a registered technologist.
Seek employment as a noncertified intraoperative neuromonitoring (IONM) technologist. Complete at least 150 surgical monitoring cases to prepare for the certification examination in neurophysiologic intraoperative monitoring from ABRET.
Submit your application materials to ABRET for the CNIM exam. Provide your academic transcripts, employer- or supervisor-documented surgical monitoring cases, and CPR/BCLS certifications along with your application. Take the required "Path 1" exam and receive your credentials as a certified neurophysiologic intraoperative monitoring (CNIM) technologist.
Bachelor’s Degree Route (My route!)
Complete a bachelor's degree program in a biological science, such as human biology, neurobiology or molecular, cellular and developmental biology. Many universities offer general curriculum programs in the biological sciences without a specific concentration.
Look for a job as an intraoperative neuromonitoring technologist trainee. Stay in the "trainee" position, observing other technologists and learning how to monitor surgeries. Develop competencies in neuromonitoring technologies (i.e., EEG, EP) and "work" your way up to fulfilling supervisory roles of other trainees and monitoring surgeries on your own. Participate in any continuing education requirements offered or encouraged by your employer.
Obtain certifications in CPR and Basic Cardiac Life Support. You can find hospitals, community colleges and local chapters of the American Red Cross that offer programs and classes leading to these certificates.
Apply for the CNIM exam with ABRET after you've monitored a minimum of 150 surgical cases as a non-certified intraoperative neuromonitoring technologist. Surgeries you participate in as a "trainee" do not count. Submit your university transcript, CPR card or BCLS certificate and documented surgical cases, along with the CNIM exam application, to ABRET. Pass the required "Path 2" written exam and receive your CNIM credential.
While working two jobs (EMT for a detox and addiction facility and a MA for a pediatric clinic) and retaking classes for CASPA on the weekends - I simply applied for an IONM tech job on a whim. I understood that this position would not increase my PCE but I applied for it anyway. Most of the time, my patients would be under anesthesia and I knew there would be little patient contact but it was something neuro related! With only a neuroscience degree and EMT license… I got the job! They were willing to train me while I worked towards the CNIM exam :)
I had a ton of training in the beginning- I was taught by the best senior techs! I dove into the technical applications of my academic major and it was so interesting connecting neuroanatomy to digital signals. Along side the technical aspect of this job, I was taught OR etiquette. I was taught how to put on a face mask, mind the sterile field and to watch out for certain OR personalities. I was able to monitor spine cases, neuro cases and some ENT cases that involved cranial nerves 7 and 8. I was nerding out everyday! Once I got my acceptances to PA school, it was SO bittersweet to leave! I’ll be sharing more of my experiences on IG, thanks for reading!