A New Online RCIS Review Class


Todd Ginapp, EMT-P, RCIS1, and Wes Todd, BS, RCIS2

A new online Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist (RCIS) class is helping cath lab technologists and nurses work together to prepare for their board exams. It is a web-based Continuing Education class from Spokane Community college that uses Wes Todd’s CV Review CD as the textbook. The class allows you to breeze through areas you already know, and spend more time on subjects where you need more study. This class has been running successfully for three years now. One participant noted: I really enjoy this on-line method of learning. Having a course syllabus helps me focus on each topic so I don't get bogged down… I'm not a great test taker, and this way of learning is much less intimidating to me.

The flexibility of the class means working cath lab staff can participate. Most cath lab employees do not have the luxury of time off to attend formal classes; they have on-call responsibilities and work 8-12 hour days. This online method allows individuals to schedule learning time around their busy schedule and to their lifestyle.

This does not mean it is an easy class. It takes about 5-10 hours a week to really learn the material, and complete the assigned discussions. It also takes persistence. Each of the two courses is 11 weeks long. It runs continuously, so people can sign up during any quarter of the year.

There is only one scheduled class; that's in the Virtual Classroom each Sunday evening. It is a chat session with graphic slides led by the instructor or a guest speaker on the topic of the week. In a recent class, Wes Todd presented pressure graphics and led the interactive discussion. (See the Figure 1 screen shot of the virtual classroom.)

The SCC class runs through a professional distance-learning website termed the BlackBoard. This site facilitates every type of web interaction imaginable, including videos, interactive testing, downloaded reading assignments, and even a 24/7 help phone line. Computer newbies seem to adjust quickly to this style of learning. One student commented: I like the BlackBoard and it give me the freedom to go at my own pace, but still be disciplined.

Managers like the accountability of college classes. Although it is a pass-fail class, each student receives an evaluation which can be placed in the employee file. Many managers pay for their staff to take the 2 courses for continuing education documentation for JCAHO. The cardiology manager below uses the online class to upgrade her staff:

"In 2002 I offered the opportunity to the radiology staff here at Deaconess to engage in Wes Todd's online RCIS classes. My objective was to increase our radiology technologists’ level of understanding regarding hemodynamics, electrocardiograms and cardiac diseases in order to have a cross-functional team. Prior to their training, their job role was limited to moving the table, operating IVUS, setting up the demographics in the radiology system, running film and transporting patients.

Film was going away, we hired a transporter, and the demographics now load from our IT interface. What was a radiology tech to do now? Well luckily, not only is the RCIS online course an excellent training program, but it can be attended during downtime at work and it is very affordable.

All 4 of our radiology techs took the course and went on to pass their registries. I believe this was due to the fact that the course is taught through the cardiovascular tech program at SCC and also many of the attendees shared their broad experience with each other in the online class.

Here at Deaconess, when a person passes a second board exam, they are awarded an hourly raise. The radiology techs now monitor, scrub and perform their old duties and actually are the most thoroughly cross-trained staff we employ. This was achieved without losing work time and with limited impact to their family life.

The online RCIS classes are invaluable to a cardiac program that needs to increase knowledge of their staff in a cost and time efficient manner. In summary, all you need are motivated, interested staff and online RCIS class.

Jan Schmidlkofer,
cardiology manager,
Deaconess Hospital, Spokane, WA

The class relies heavily upon student interaction. Those with strengths and experience in specific areas (radiology, pharmacology, patient care, etc.) share with other students online, and discuss problems common to cath lab staff. This sharing is evident in the discussion boards. Before you know it, the class becomes a group, working together with comradery, which really dissolves turf boundaries between nurses and techs. See Figure 3 (modified from www.vascularsci.com), which illustrates how the patient suffers when teamwork fails.

Participants need access to a computer and modem to get online, and the required Todd CD, which is available to participants at $80. Tuition is $176 for each of the 2 eleven-week quarters, which can be taken in any sequence. For more information, see: www.westodd.com/classes.html. To register, call SCC (509)533-8010.


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