EP Perspectives

Cardiac Electrophysiology Technology Internship: In My Experience

Michelle Kujawa
Hoag Hospital
Newport Beach, California

Michelle Kujawa
Hoag Hospital
Newport Beach, California

With the growing number of arrhythmias accounting for millions of deaths each year in the United States, the need for cardiac electrophysiology (EP) studies has increased. Normal cardiac function relies on its electrical activity and the outcome of this activity on all of its cells. In the case of a diseased heart, impaired electrical activity is usually the cause of sudden death. The cardiac electrophysiology study helps to evaluate the electrical activity of the heart. I joined the Cardiac Electrophysiology Technology (CEPT) program through Loma Linda University (LLU) in the spirit of not only identifying heart diseases such as arrhythmias, but also correcting them by using advanced technology. I believe electrophysiology is shaping the field of cardiology by the time-efficient, functional, and cutting-edge diagnostic tests utilized for the health and care of our patients. 

It has been 10 months since I joined the CEPT program. Before this experience, I had minimal exposure to the medical field. I became interested in this field because of my family history of heart disease — my mother was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, my father suffered from congestive heart failure, and my stepfather has undergone bypass surgery. This was a major factor behind my decision to join the allied health program. I found the cardiac electrophysiology program could help me fulfill my dream and play an important role in the healthcare field. This profession helps to save patients’ lives, improve their function, and contribute to society. The CEPT program will prepare me to become eligible for service in not only hospital EP labs, but also the EP industry. 

EP is a promising medical field and a subspecialty of cardiology that pays special attention to diagnosing and managing cardiac arrhythmias. Hoag Hospital, where I currently train, has offered me everything that I could have imagined from a healthcare field experience. We carry out a range of practical work in the EP lab, including baseline EP studies, implants of biventricular defibrillators, pacemakers, and other sophisticated implantable devices, as well as a complete scope of ablations. I am a strong believer in teamwork, and I witness my accomplishment in the success of others. I strive to get along with my mentors, colleagues, and patients by keeping an optimistic attitude and carrying out my duties in a professional and efficient manner. In fact, being part of a team has been the most challenging and enjoyable part of my training thus far. There is never a dull moment and never a day when I don’t learn something. This is what drives me.

I am thoroughly enjoying my rotation and experience in the cardiac catheterization lab at Hoag Hospital. I spend between 15 to 30 hours each week in the lab, actively assisting in the improvement of my patients’ lives. The experiences I have been getting are beyond description. The people, sense of teamwork, and professionalism are unlike any specialty or job I have had before. Everyone on the team, from technician to physician, has something to offer and something I can learn from. We tend to forget that our patients come to us in their weakest moments. For us, it’s another day on the job, but for them, it’s a major life event that they will be talking about for years to come. It’s a humbling experience that requires a lot of humility and respect.

During these months in the CEPT program, I have started to embrace the cath lab as my home. I am no longer regarded as a student who needs teaching, but as a valuable member of the team who can contribute. I am able to identify, discuss, and determine the pathophysiology of common arrhythmias. This program has given me a lot of invaluable learning tools and hands-on clinical experiences that will undeniably help me in my future endeavors. 

Over time, my apprehension of being from a non-medical background has been replaced by an eagerness to understand and learn more about the field. I am constantly reading and improving my knowledge of the field outside of the assigned tasks of this course. To me, it is not forced but instead leisure learning, because I feel that I am doing what I am meant to do. Having a career in which Monday morning isn’t dreaded has changed my life, and I consider myself fortunate.

My ultimate goal is to work as a cardiac electrophysiology technologist or clinical representative in cardiac rhythm management. My graduation is scheduled for September 2016. Upon completion of the CEPT program at LLU, my aim is to take the CEPS examination via IBHRE and RCES examination via CCI, for certification to advance my career opportunities in becoming an allied health professional. 

My association with patients and the knowledge I am gaining at Hoag Hospital through the CEPT program has given me a chance to work with and for the community I live in. The sparkle I see in a patient’s eyes when receiving good care is a satisfying experience. I look forward to furthering my academic and practical expertise. 

Thus far, my journey in the CEPT program has been the most gratifying experience of my professional and personal life. This field has offered me not only intellectual stimulation, but also the feeling of being part of a team that helps to contribute to society. This field brings out the best in me. The road to success is not easy, but worth it.

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