The Level 1 Vestibular Technician is responsible for all aspects of testing typical Vestibular Lab patients. This individual will interact with the patient for an average of two to three hours and administer up to four clinical tests during that time. The technician will greet the patient, and prepare them both physically and mentally for the battery of tests that patient will be taking. In many cases, this involves reassuring the patient, explaining in easy to understand language what they will be experiencing, and what responses the tests will be measuring. A basic knowledge of vestibular physiology is needed to make a good explanation. Since some tests require that the patient be given a mental task, the technician must quickly assess the ability of each individual to match the mental task that patient's abilities. Simultaneously, the technician must also quickly gauge and deal with any anxiety about the testing. This is a factor because patients are often dizzy or apprehensive about their prognosis. Therefore, considerable "people skills" are a necessity for this position.
The tests themselves all involve the technician interacting with one or more computers. The video measurement of reflexive eye movements requires the technician to adjust detection thresholds to get the optimal measurement. During the testing itself, the technician must constantly monitor the physical/mental state of the patient, the performance of the patient's mental tasking, and also the quality of the raw data that is displayed on the computer's screen. Some tests involve potential risks, for example, the risk of a fall during postural stability testing. Thus, the technician must also be continually aware of potential risks, and manage them as appropriate. Some tests can tire some patients, so the technician must also use their judgment to give the patient a rest if needed. Some patients must have mental encouragement to finish the battery of tests, so the technician needs to "coach them" through the tests, when necessary. Sometimes, a portion of a test will need to be repeated, and the technical must use their discretion on a case-by-case basis. The technician must also be able to detect and fix minor problems, such as replacing a faulty recording electrode with a good one.
When the testing is complete, the technician must analyze the data using other computer programs -- using their judgment to get the most accurate and informative results. When this preliminary round of data analysis is complete, the technician then enters the results for all tests into a database program that the interpreting physician will use to write the laboratory report. If there are any issues about the results and the data, the technician will meet with and resolve these with the individual who does the interpretation. Finally, the technician will enter an electronic summary of the data from the signed-off report into the computer system. If the patient is being seen on the same day as the test, the technician will promptly send a copy to the examining physician. In sum, the technician has to be both a good "people person" and moderately adept with using computers to drive and to analyze the tests.
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Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania
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