Geisinger School of Cardiovascular Technology

Geisinger Medical Center Cardiac Cath Lab Staff.

Donna Myers, BS, RCIS, Director of the Geisinger School of Cardiovascular Technology, Danville, Pennsylvania

Why and how did you become an educator?

After many years of being a clinical preceptor and classroom instructor, I became the Director in February of 2001. I enjoy teaching because I can share my experiences from my career and teach the students the knowledge they need to be great CVT techs.

How long has your program been in operation?

Our program is CAAHEP-accredited and we are into our 11th class. Our program is a one-year program with the first four months in didactic work and the remaining 8 months in clinical hands-on work.

Describe your program syllabus, both clinical and classroom.

Our syllabus includes classes in A & P, Respiratory, Hemodynamics, EKG, Cath Procedures 1&2, Diseases and Assessments, Interventional Procedures, Radiology, Pediatrics, Pharmacology, Patient Assessment, Electrophysiology procedures and hands-on workshops. Clinical rotations in the cardiac cath lab include scrubbing diagnostic and interventional procedures, hemodynamic monitoring, circulating, and x-ray positioning.

How many students do you accept each year?

We accept six students yearly. Recruiting is very difficult. We have not seen a rise in the number of applicants. I think people aren't aware that our profession exists. I visit colleges and utilize speaking engagements to tell people about our profession.

What backgrounds do students generally have?

We require students to have a BS or AS degree in a science field or previous medical experience.

What is your program’s annual tuition?

Our tuition is $6,500, which includes books, BLS, ACLS, and PALS certifications.

What teaching tools are used in your classes?

We use Netter, Grossman, Guyton, Kern and do a lot of teaching using our cardiac cath lab equipment.

What types of clinical experiences do you offer students?

Since we are a hospital-based program, our students get great clinical experience. They get 8 months of clinical hands-on experience.

How hands on does the student become and when do they start this exposure?

They start clinicals after four months of didactic work.

Are your students cross-trained?

Our students are cross-trained in all areas of the cardiac cath lab. They also train in the electrophysiology lab.

Who does your classroom and clinical teaching?

Our classroom instructors include myself, physicians, staff technologists, nursing, pharmacists, and staff in their area of expertise. Clinical instructors include myself, staff technologists, nursing, and physicians.

What is the employment outlook for your graduates?

Our students have jobs before they graduate. We have no problems finding employment.

What are the typical starting salaries for graduates?

An average starting salary is approximately $40,000, including on-call and overtime.

What career opportunities have past graduates experienced?

Students become staff technologists, some went to the EP lab, and some went into sales and being clinical specialists.

Is there a demand for graduates of accredited CVT programs?

There is definitely a demand for RCIS people in our area.

How successful have graduates been in passing the RCIS exam?

We are proud to say that we have a 100% passing rate for the Registry Exam! To prepare for the Registry exam, we review the class materials plus utilize the Wes Todd review materials.

How has the CVT program evolved over the past five years?

Our program has evolved into allowing our students the opportunity to get various clinical experiences at various clinical sites. We presently have clinical sites at Williamsport Hospital, Williamsport, PA and Geisinger Wyoming Valley, in Wilkesbarre, PA. Our students also had the opportunity to do clinical time with: Memorial Hospital, Colorado Springs, CO; Mercy Hospital, Wilkesbarre, PA; Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, PA; Robert Packard Hospital, Sayre, PA; Duke University Health System, Durham, NC. We are grateful to all the clinical sites for their dedication to our students.

What advice can you give to students considering CVT school?

Students who are interested in the CVT field should spend some time in the cardiac cath lab and electrophysiology lab to see what the job is all about. It is a demanding job, with long hours of wearing lead aprons and sometimes a stressful atmosphere. On the flip side, it is very gratifying to be able to help very sick people. The job requires a compassionate, responsible person because patient care is always the first priority.

What do you consider unique about your program?

Our program is unique because it is hospital-based. We have excellent physician and staff instructors. Our students learn from the best!

Can you share a proud teaching moment?

My proudest moment is when my students pass the registry. They deserve their success -- ours is an intense year-long program.


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