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Cardiac Assistant Courses and Classes Overview

Courses for aspiring cardiac assistants are available in certificate and associate degree programs in cardiovascular technology, which prepare students to help diagnose and treat a variety of cardiovascular medical conditions. There are also physician assistant programs in cardiothoracic surgery that train students in this field by providing them with the skills and knowledge to assist cardiothoracic surgeons and care for their patients.

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Essential Information

There are two basic types of programs that offer cardiac assistant courses. Cardiovascular technology programs teach students how to administer EEG and other types of tests. Such programs are offered at the certificate and associate degree levels. Physician assistant programs, on the other hand, typically culminate in a master's degree. Cardiac courses offered in physician assistant programs delve into diseases and treatments of cardiac disease.

List of Common Cardiovascular Technology Courses

Below are some of the courses found through associate-level programs.

Introduction to Cardiovascular Technology Course

It is recommended that students take this introductory course early in their cardiovascular technology program. Topics focus on the major concepts of cardiovascular technology and the primary duties of a cardiovascular technician. Instruction also addresses professionalism, ethics and legal issues.

Principles of Invasive Cardiology Course

Invasive cardiology is taught on both basic and advanced levels. Topics include cardiac catheterization laboratory procedures, diagnostic methods and cardiac diseases. Some programs also offer instruction in a clinical setting, where students are taught about laboratory instruments, equipment and sterilization procedures. They are also given the opportunity to practice procedures learned in the classroom.

Principles of Non-Invasive Cardiology Course

In this course, students are introduced to non-invasive cardiology procedures and diagnostic techniques, including various forms of echocardiography. Clinical sessions often include testing procedures as well as patient assessment and preparation. Emphasis is also placed on research methodology and data collection.

Physician Assistant Training in Cardiothoracic Surgery

The training components of physician assistant programs differ from those in cardiovascular technology programs. The didactic and hands-on practical requirements are detailed below.

Didactic Training

The didactic component of most cardiothoracic surgery training programs consists of lectures, conferences and laboratory instruction, all of which instruct physician assistants in the major components of cardiothoracic diseases and surgical treatments. Topics include all aspects of surgical patient care, such as the monitoring and regulation of fluids, electrolytes and acid-base balance. Instruction also focuses on invasive surgical techniques, including how to best assist during surgical emergencies. The didactic training program includes shadowing attending faculty during their rounds, which also prepares students for the clinical practice component of their residency training.

Clinical Training

Clinical training offers students an opportunity to interact directly with cardiothoracic surgical patients. Primary duties include collecting a patient's medical history, performing physical examinations, attending to a patient's questions and concerns, making hospital rounds, ordering tests and assisting during cardiothoracic surgical procedures. By the end of the training period, students should be able to assist during open heart and vascular surgery, perform non-invasive cardiovascular imaging and complete various endovascular procedures.

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