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Intraoperative neuromonitoring technologists monitor a patient’s nervous system during surgery. An IONM will warn the surgeon of any neurological risks, complications or damage caused by the surgical procedure. These professionals are used for neurological procedures, such as brain or spinal cord procedures; orthopedic procedures for scoliosis, and vascular surgery for aneurysms. IONM technologists use a variety of neurological measurement techniques before, during and after surgery to monitor a patient’s condition. Intraoperative Neuromonitoring Technologist salary is set based on employer, where she lives and her experience.
Since 1935, electro encephalograms have been used to monitor patients’ brain activity during surgery. Since then, other neurological monitoring techniques, such as evoked potentials to establish baseline neurological activity and nerve conduction studies have been developed and are used in surgery by the IONM technologist. They may also polysomnograms, which are used to monitor sleep and detect sleep disorders. Before surgery, the technologist conducts various neurological tests to establish a baseline of normal functioning for the patient. She uses these data as points of comparison during surgery to identify potential problems or complications that could cause paralysis or a stroke. Neurological functioning may change during surgery as a result of anesthesia, the duration of the surgery, changes in body temperature or the procedure being performed. After surgery, she may conduct additional neurological studies to monitor the patient’s recovery.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies IONM technologists as health technologists. According to BLS, the 2010 average annual salary for health technologists, including IONM technologists, was $42,240, with an annual range of $25,590 to $64,560 and a median annual income of $38,460. Like other occupations, IONM salaries vary depending on a technologist’s education, experience and the area of the country in which he works. For example, if he lives in Seattle, Wash., his 2010 salary was $48,350 while in Carson City, Nev., it was $36,770.
IONM technologists must have a two-year associate or bachelor’s degree in electroneurodiagnostics. The program must include both course work and clinical experience and be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. They must also be experienced, certified EEG or EP technicians. IONA certification is not mandatory, but many employers prefer to hire technologists with the certification. A certified IONM technologist must have monitored at least 150 surgical cases, have valid cardio pulmonary resuscitation and basic cardiac life support certifications and pass the Certification Test in Neurophysiologic Intraoperative Monitoring.
According to the American Society of Electroneurodiagnostic Technologists, the career prospects for IONM technologists are excellent and will continue to grow as new surgery techniques are developed and neurological monitoring technology evolves. O*Net Online estimates that the demand for electroneurodiagnostic technologists, including IONM technologists, will increase by 14 to 19 percent between 2008 and 2018.
- American Society of Electroneurodiagnostic Technologists: Career in Neurodiagnostics, 2011 : Career in Neurodiagnostics, 2011
- Medscape Reference: Intraoperative Neurophysiological Monitoring, Liem, L.K., et al., 2010
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics; 29-2799 Health Technologists and Technicians, All Other, 2010
- ABRET: CNIM Eligibility Requirements; CNIM Exam Eligibility Requirements; 2011
- O*Net Online: Summary Report for 29-2099.01 - Electroneurodiagnostic Technologists; 2010
Diane Chinn is a freelance writer with more than 15 years experience in many areas, including business and technical communications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from California State University and a Master of Arts in human resources and industrial relations from the University of Minnesota. She is a Six Sigma Green Belt .