Neurologists treat illnesses of the nervous system--the brain and spinal cord. They need copious training and must be able to handle specialized equipment, due to the fragile nature of the nervous system. One major test that neurologists use is electroencephalography (EEG).
EEG is the recording of the electrical impulses of the brain and nervous system. In addition to being a valuable research tool for doctors and scientists studying the brain, EEG is used clinically to diagnose abnormal brain conditions. People with degrees in EEG generally become EEG technicians who operate EEG equipment. However, neurologists also must be able to operate machinery and interpret results.
|Career Title||EEG Technician||Neurologist|
|Required Education||Certificate or associate's Degree||Doctoral or professional degree|
|Other Requirements||Certification requirements vary by state||completion of Internship/Residency|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||16% for medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians*||14% for physicians and surgeons*|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)||$50,550 for medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians*||$187,200 for physicians and surgeons*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
EEG technicians work in hospitals and private doctors' offices. They help doctors diagnose brain and nervous system conditions using an electroencephalograph, a machine that records the electrical impulses in a patient's brain. EEG equipment is used to diagnose health ailments like epilepsy, sleep disorders and tumors or to determine brain death. EEG technicians have a role in every step of the procedure. They prepare patients for the test by applying electrodes to their scalps and operate the electroencephalograph. They review the results, which are called an electroencephalogram, to prepare a medical report.
Education Requirements for EEG Techs
EEG technicians must possess a high school diploma or a GED and pass a CPR training course before enrolling in an EEG technician program. Most employers require job applicants to hold a certificate or associate's degree from one of the 22 EEG programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Electroneurodiagnostic technologist, another term for EEG tech, may be used in program titles. Students study subjects like electronics, neuropathology, neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, medical terminology and medical ethics.
While certification is not required by law, some employers require their EEG technicians to pass the national certification examination administered by the American Board of Registration of Electroencephalographic Technologists. To sit for the exam, students need at least one year of experience as an EEG technician. Therefore, employers typically hire recent graduates and give them on-the-job training before requiring them to take the exam. An EEG certification is valid for ten years, at which point technicians need to take continuing education credits to maintain their licenses.
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A neurologist is a medical doctor who diagnoses and treats disorders of the nervous system. EEG is one of the many tools neurologists use to diagnose brain, nerve and spinal cord diseases. Some neurologists specialize in treatment of ailments like Alzheimer's disease, head injuries or epilepsy.
Aspiring neurologists must complete both a bachelor's degree and a 4-year medical school program. Undergraduates often choose to major in the biological sciences or psychology, fields that are good preparation for a career in neurology. Many medical schools with neurological science departments allow senior medical students to specialize in areas like strokes, epilepsy or neuropsychology. Doctors in these fields rely heavily on the use of EEG.
On-the-Job Training Requirements
Upon completion of medical school, aspiring neurologists must complete a 1-year internship in either internal or surgical medicine. This should be followed with three years of specialty training in a neurology residency program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Many students choose to complete a fellowship in a subspecialty. The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota runs the Clinical Neurophysiology, Electroencephalography, Epilepsy Fellowship, where students learn to interpret EEGs and supervise prolonged recording sessions.
After completing the educational, internship and residency requirements, neurologists can apply for certification through the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN), a member of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Applicants are awarded certification after passing a written and oral exam. Many hospitals and scientific research institutions prefer neurologists to have national certification.
There are two available career paths for people with EEG training: EEG technician or neurologist. Neurologists must complete a doctoral medical program, whereas technicians may only need an associate's degree or post-secondary certificate to begin work. This is due to the greater complexity and variety in the nature of a neurologist's work.