Are you a secret admirer of ‘Dr House’ and ‘Grey’s Anatomy’? Is your guilty pleasure watching hospital dramas? Well, though your workplace might not have a ‘McSteamy’ to stare at, you still would be a part of the fast-paced setting. Jokes apart, are you really interested in detecting life-threatening conditions of patients? You know, as a Neurology/ Neuroscience Technologist your inputs can be very valuable and you would handle tasks that would sometimes be critical too. You would be part of a vital process and your knowledge & skills would help save a patient’s life. Read on and find out who Neurology/ Neuroscience Technologists are, what they do, and how to become one.
Neurology/ Neuroscience Technologists are specialized healthcare professionals who manage and operate the biomedical equipment used in the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases and disorders of the central nervous system which consists of the brain, spinal cord, and various types of nerves. Neurology/ Neuroscience Technologists assist surgeons, physicians, and nurses in conducting invasive and non-invasive diagnostic tests or operative procedures; preparing patients for testing processes or for surgery, and other associated tasks. They are responsible for selecting, assembling, cleaning, disinfecting, setting up as well as testing laboratory biomedical equipment and machines.
Why become a Neurology/Neuroscience Technologist?
Neurology/ Neuroscience Technologists are specialized healthcare professionals who manage and operate the biomedical equipment used in the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases and disorders of the central nervous system which consists of the brain, spinal cord, and various types of nerves.
Some of these disorders are
Such disorders may include ischemic strokes (when an artery in the brain gets blocked), aneurysms (swelling of the wall of an artery), spinal or brain arteriovenous malformations and fistulas (abnormal connection of vessels in the tissues around the brain), vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels in the brain), etc.
What do Neurology/ Neuroscience Technologists do, in brief?
Neurology/ Neuroscience Technologists assist surgeons, physicians, and nurses in conducting invasive and non-invasive diagnostic tests or operative procedures; preparing patients for testing processes or for surgery, and other associated tasks.
They are responsible for selecting, assembling, cleaning, disinfecting, setting up as well as testing laboratory biomedical equipment and machines as well as making minor repairs to ensure proper operation and that they are functioning according to specifications.
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They have specialized patient-appropriate interpersonal skills to explain testing procedures to the patient and obtain her cooperation for the best performance of these procedures. They also check a patient’s special needs since in most neurological or related ailments, individualistic & personalized care is appropriate.
Let us get a fair idea of what invasive and non-invasive procedures they can be involved in.
Do you know what“invasive and non-invasive” procedures are?
Here are some examples.
Invasive processes such as transcranial manipulative tests or neuro biplane catheterization or surgical processes such as correcting craniocervical junction anomalies or spinal corrections etc. require physicians to use instruments to physically enter the body to assess the patient’s condition in order to cure it.
For example, “catheter cerebral angiography” (or brain angiography) is a minimally invasive medical test (carries some degree of risk) that uses x-rays to produce detailed images of blood vessels in the brain (even looking at blood flow through the brain in real-time). A thin plastic tube called a “catheter” is inserted into an artery through a small incision in the skin.
Whereas a non-invasive painless diagnostic test such as CTA (computed tomography angiography) and MRI/MRA imaging includes minimal or no incisions in the body but these may leave some unanswered questions necessitating the need for invasive procedures like angiography.
A CTA scan is an X-radiation study. MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or MRA (magnetic resonance angiography) procedures are used to view blood vessels, tissues, bones, or organs inside the body. MRI produces detailed images of organs & tissues whereas an MRA focuses more on the blood vessels than the tissue surrounding it.
Now that you know your area of work, let us understand what exactly you would do or be involved in as a Neurology/ Neuroscience Technologist
As a Neurology/ Neuroscience Technologist, you would be involved in using specialized electronic test equipment, recording devices, or laboratory instruments to observe, monitor and evaluate the patient’s condition with any suspected or known neurological diseases and/ or conditions.
Some tools used are transcranial dopplers, penlights, eye charts, intracranial pressure monitors, reflex hammers, electrical/ magnetic stimulators, ventricular drainage sets, tuning forks, inclinometers, implantable neurostimulators, cranial perforators, CSF drainage catheters, etc. Other MRI/ MRA/ CTA/ angiograph etc. equipment are not specific to this field. They are used across the entire medicinal practice spectrum.
You would measure & apply electrodes using standard principles and understand basic troubleshooting of various equipment. You would also be involved in writing preliminary technical reports with assistance and filling statutory and equipment databases with pertinent patient & test information, findings, or data.
You may need specialized skills to perform more difficult procedures and other neuro-diagnostic procedures including intraoperative monitoring, testing, computer setup, and the clipping, pruning, & archiving of data.
You will need sufficient knowledge of the central nervous system, diseases related to neuro-diagnostic medicine, instrumentation, basic electronics, and electrical safety.
What does a Neurology/ Neuroscience Technologist do?
- You will take complete histories directly from patients or medical records, and record patient identification, and/or prior test results.
- You will explain testing procedures to the patient and obtain her cooperation for the best performance of these procedures. You will also check the patient’s special needs.
- You will measure & apply electrodes using standard principles and understand the basic troubleshooting of various equipment.
- You will write preliminary technical reports with assistance and fill statutory and equipment databases with pertinent patient & test information, findings, or data.
- You will analyze the results of tests or experiments to ensure conformity to specifications, using special mechanical or electrical devices.
- You will prepare standard volumetric solutions or reagents to be combined with samples, following standardized formulas or experimental procedures.
- You will consult with a Neurologist/ Surgeon to determine a final diagnosis when abnormal cells are found.
- You will be involved in selecting, assembling, cleaning, disinfecting, setting up as well as testing laboratory equipment and machines as well as making minor repairs to ensure proper operation and that they are functioning according to specifications.
- You will have to demonstrate knowledge of the central nervous system, diseases related to neuro-diagnostic medicine, instrumentation, basic electronics, and electrical safety.
- You will demonstrate positive patient-appropriate interpersonal skills with patients, physician staff, and other hospital/clinic staff members.
- You will acquire specialized skills to perform more difficult procedures and other neuro-diagnostic procedures including intraoperative monitoring, testing, computer setup, and the clipping, pruning, & archiving of data.
- You will continue your education by participating in or through conferences & technical meetings, journal workshops, seminars, and site visits. You may as well participate in and take on individual research projects.
How to become a Neurology/ Neuroscience Technologist – eligibility criteria
To gain entry into this field, you must clear Class 10 examinations (secondary) from any Central or State board with Science, Mathematics, and any other subjects.
Thereafter, you must clear Class 11-12 examinations (higher secondary) in the Science stream with Physics, Chemistry, and Biology as mandatory subjects.
After Class 11-12, you may pursue:
- B.Sc. in Neuro Electrophysiology/ Physician Assistant/ Paramedical Technology (Neuro Technician) or similar
- Bachelor’s in Zoology/ Human Physiology / Pharmaceutical Sciences/ Physiology/ Physics/ Chemistry
- B Sc in Accident & Emergency Care Technology/ Audiology & Speech Language Pathology/ Critical Care Technology/ Operation Theatre &Anaesthesia Technology/ Medical Record Science/ Radiology Imaging Technology or similar
The educational fees for becoming a Neurology/Neuroscience Technologist in India can vary depending on the institute and program you choose to enroll in. However, here is an approximate breakdown of the costs involved:
- Bachelor’s degree in Neurology/Neuroscience Technology: The fees for a 3-year Bachelor’s degree program in Neurology/Neuroscience Technology can range from INR 30,000 to INR 1,00,000 per year.
- Master’s degree in Neurology/Neuroscience Technology: The fees for a 2-year Master’s degree program in Neurology/Neuroscience Technology can range from INR 50,000 to INR 2,00,000 per year.
- Certification courses: There are various certification courses available in India for Neurology/Neuroscience Technologists, and the fees can range from INR 10,000 to INR 50,000.
After completing Bachelor’s or Master’s, you may find work in a hospital or imaging units/ diagnostic & interventional labs as well as public/private medical colleges and training hospitals.
You may find work
- In multi-specialty government and private hospitals where healthcare services are offered for neurologic conditions.
- In super-specialty or dedicated hospitals that treat neurologic conditions/diseases like BLK Super Speciality Hospital, Care Hospital, Artemis, Adiva Super Specialty Care, Apollo Hospitals, Bhagwati Hospital, MGS Super Specialty Hospital, Primus Super specialty, etc.
- In nursing homes and health institutes which treat neurologic conditions & related diseases.
- In institutes, diagnostic/ trauma centers, and healthcare trusts where healthcare services are offered for neurologic conditions Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, Dr. B L Kapur Memorial, Metro Institute, National Heart Institute, RLKC Institute, Human Care Medical Charitable Trust, Dr Anand’s Imaging Centre & Neurological Research Centre, Apex Healthcare & Research Centre, etc.
- After at least post-graduation, in educational establishments imparting training programs or conducting research in this discipline or like AIIMS, Asian Institute of Medical Sciences, QRG Central Hospital and Research Centre, Dr. M G R Medical University, Bharath Institute of Higher Education & Research, Sri Ramachandra University, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, etc.
All hospitals, nursing homes, institutes, and centers mentioned are either NABL & NABH accredited or only NABH accredited and each has separate Neurology & Neuroscience facilities.
Salary of Neurology/ Neuroscience Technologist
As a Trainee or Technician at the Entry level, you may earn around Rs. 12,000 to Rs. 15,000 per month.
At the Junior-level with an experience of 1- 4 years, you may earn around Rs. 15,000 – 35,000 per month or more.
At Mid-level with an experience of 5-12 years, you may earn around Rs. 20,000 – 90,000 per month or more.
At Senior-level with an experience of 12-20 years, you may earn around Rs. 35,000 – 1,40,000 per month or more.
Salaries are higher at government hospitals.
Career Progression in Neurology/ Neuroscience Technologist Profession
After having completed the required education & training you would move upwards along roles like:
Neurology/ Neuroscience Technician – Assistant Neurology/ Neuroscience Technician – Neurology/ Neuroscience Technologist – Senior Neurology/ Neuroscience Technologist
What do industry trends say – Future Prospects
The healthcare sector in India is one of the fastest-growing sectors and will reach an estimate of around USD 280 billion in 2020. India has also become a one-stop destination for high-end diagnostic services and is attracting a number of capital advancements for advanced diagnostic facilities.
The Healthcare Market in India has the potential to increase 3 fold to USD 133.44 billion by 2022. Indian Government is willing to expand public health spending to 2.5% of GDP by 2025. Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) launched in 2018 provides USD 7,124.54 each to over 100 million families every year.
The entire healthcare industry in India is one of the fastest-growing sectors and it is expected to reach USD 280 billion in 2020. The major focus is on quality of service and hence skilled labor is much required to sustain the growth of this industry.
By 2025, medical spending in India is expected to grow by almost 9 to 12% making India one of the world’s top ten in this zone. India’s earnings from medical tourism could exceed USD 9 billion in 2020.
Many private and government hospitals have adopted high-end technological services catering to rising demands. Therefore a career in this allied healthcare sector would witness immense demand in the upcoming years.
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