Healthcare science staff working in cardiac sciences carry out crucial diagnostic, monitoring and analytical procedures for patients not only with known or suspected heart disease - ranging from babies to the elderly. They also assist in interventional procedures.
Due to the very nature of this area of healthcare science, staff working in cardiac sciences will have a lot of direct patient contact, and will often work as part of a large team providing patient care to patients.
This team includes anaesthetists, surgeons, healthcare science assistants and associates, cardiologists (doctors), specialist nurses (including theatre nurses), operating department practitioners and radiographers.
Healthcare science staff working in cardiac sciences assess patients during what can be a distressing time in their lives. They often work with patients who are unwilling or unable to co-operate and so excellent communication skills and a calm and confident but sympathetic approach is required to achieve an appropriate outcome for the patient.
Procedures carried out in cardiac sciences include:
Healthcare science assistants and associates in cardiac sciences such as cardiographers, will undertake routine tests for patients such as electrocardiograms (ECGs) and blood pressure measurement. The majority of their work involves working directly with patients.
Healthcare science practitioners in cardiac sciences assess patients using diagnostic equipment and often provide technical reports of the tests they perform. They are likely to be based in a hospital cardiology department but some may work in primary care. Their job will vary depending on the types of procedures carried out by the hospital but will usually include ambulatory electrocardiography or ambulatory blood pressure measurement or providing technical support during pacemaker implantation and follow up. They also help with exercise stress testing. They will provide technical reports on the tests they perform and need excellent communication skills to be able to explain each test to a patients and answer questions.
Healthcare scientists in cardiac sciences work at a more senior level and will have a considerable amount of responsibility for performing more complex tests and interpreting the results of each test. They will be expected to teach and supervise other members of the team and will often work in a management role with responsibility for resources (such as staff, budgets or equipment). They need good leadership skills and must be able to use their initiative within the remit of their job role.
Healthcare science staff often work at the forefront of research and innovation, so that patients are continually receiving the very best healthcare. For example, in cardiac science, healthcare science staff are developing non-invasive techniques for various cardiac procedures.
There are four entry points into this area of work.
As a consultant healthcare scientist, after gaining postgraduate qualifications and/or considerable relevant experience through Higher Specialist Scientific Training (HSST).
To work in cardiac science you will need effective communication and team working skills and have good interpersonal skills as this is a patient facing role at all levels.
You will also need to be confident with technology and systems/processes.
Your training and education will depend on the level at which you are working.
Those entering Higher Specialist Scientific Training (HSST) will study towards doctoral level qualifications.
All of the above programmes are supported by the development of workplace-based assessment tools, assessment of equivalent learning and the development of academic careers.
Many healthcare science roles require registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). For those parts of the workforce not regulated by HCPC, professional voluntary registers are in operation.
For registration as a clinical scientist individuals must hold an Academy for Healthcare Science (AHCS) Certificate of Attainment granted upon completion of the MSC Scientist Training Programme or AHCS Certificate of Equivalence.
You can find out more about the Academy's Certificates on its website: www.ahcs.ac.uk
Please check individual job vacancy details for information when applying.
For information about pay for staff working in healthcare science, please click here.
For further information about a career in cardiac physiology please contact:
Society for Cardiological Science and Technology