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Dec. 18, 2018

New training program addresses medical technician shortage

Michigan State University has partnered with the Michigan Radiologic and Imaging Science Consortium to address the shortage of trained neurodiagnostic technologists, or NDTs, across the state.

NDTs perform electroencephalograms, or EEGs, sleep studies, nerve conductions, epilepsy monitoring and measure the electrical activity of the brain. Using diagnostic equipment, neurodiagnostic techs record and study the electrical activity in the brain and the nervous system in order to diagnose neurological issues, including Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, migraines, brain tumors, head trauma and other conditions.

According to Kimberly Patterson, course director and EEG and EMG coordinator in MSU’s Department of Neurology and Ophthalmology, there’s a significant nationwide shortage of highly skilled NDTs, and an insufficient number of formal educational programs to address this shortage.

“The need for a program to address the shortage of NDTs became apparent when it took me five months to recruit one viable candidate’” she said. “I researched NDT programs across the nation, found out about the shortage and discovered there was only one training program in Michigan, so I decided to create one.”

Through the training program, students earn an allied health associate’s degree. Once they pass their board exams through the national credentialing association and become registered neurodiagnostic technologists, they can put their training to use immediately or they can choose to pursue additional specialized education in other modalities. The program comprises 12 online classes, five in-person labs and two semesters of internships.

The first students enrolled at Lansing Community College and Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek earlier this year. In its second year, the program will expand to include Mid Michigan College in Harrison through the Michigan Community College Association, or MCCA.

“We are in need of people who are trained in epilepsy monitoring and detection through the use of EEG equipment,” said Mounzer Kassab, program medical director and professor of neurology and ophthalmology. “This collaboration allows us to train people statewide and within their home communities through distance learning. It was brilliant in its concept.”

Michael Hansen, president of MCCA, said many occupational fields have become very specialized with niche roles.

“A traditional classroom-based model doesn’t make sense when you only need one or two employees in any community. Community colleges are working on delivering high-demand, high-cost and low-enrollment programs like this one in a cost-effective way.”

To learn more about the neurodiagnostic technologists program, visit the Michigan Colleges Online website.

By: Laura Probyn