Electrophysiologists are specialists who perform various types of medical procedures such as: blood transfusions, organ transplants, heart surgeries, cancer treatments and many other kinds of operations. They are also called “electrocardiologists” because they use electrocardiograms (ECGs) to diagnose heart problems. An electrophysiologist’s job involves monitoring the heartbeat of patients during surgery or other procedures.
The electrophysiologist must be able to detect abnormal heart rhythms that may cause harm to the patient. These abnormalities include arrhythmias, which are irregular heartbeats; ventricular fibrillation, which occurs when the heart beats too fast and spasms causing death; and tachyarrhythmia, which is sudden rapid beating of the heart.
An electrophysiologist uses equipment such as ECG machines, stethoscopes, and other instruments to look for these abnormal heart rhythms. They may also use special testing techniques such as computerized tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Electrophysiologists work in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and other health care facilities. Most of them have advanced degrees in medicine or related fields. They have spent several years in college and medical school, and have most likely completed a rotating internship.
The average income of an electrophysiologist is above $300,000 per year according to SalaryExpert.
The following are some sample electrophysiologist interview questions:
Tell me about your experience with ECG machines: Most ECG’s are digital now but many are still analog so you need to have experience with both types. Tell me about a time you had to life-save: Most likely you’ll never have to life-save but you may have to shock someone’s heart and CPR isn’t working. What was the hardest course you’ve taken and why: This shows if you’re able to handle stress and challenges. What are your goals in five years: This shows them that you have long term goals and that they won’t need to worry about you getting bored and leaving.
How do you prepare yourself before an operation?
You must have some sort of routine to stay focused.
How do you handle difficult patients?
Some people can be real jerks and you have to be able to put up with them.
What is the most common issue that comes up with your patients?
This shows if you actually listen to your patients or not.
What are some of the reasons that people might not qualify for a pacemaker?
This shows if you know your stuff or not.
Do I Need an Electrophysiologist?
An electrophysiologist is a type of cardiologist who deals with the electrical activity of the heart. They are responsible for diagnosing and treating patients with irregular heartbeats called arrhythmias. Arrhythmias can range from being relatively minor to a potentially life-threatening medical emergency.
Some of the conditions that an electrophysiologist treats are:
Irregular heart rhythms (atrial fibrillation)
Heart attack (myocardial infarction)
The most common types of arrhythmias that an electrophysiologist deals with are atrial fibrillation, premature ventricular contractions and wide complex tachycardia.
Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat where the top chambers of the heart quiver and don’t pump blood effectively. This can cause blood to pool in the chamber causing clots to form and can travel to the brain and causing a stroke.
Premature ventricular contractions happen when the lower pumping chambers of the heart beat too soon and don’t allow enough time for the atria (upper chamber) to fill with blood.
During a wide complex tachycardia, the electrical signal passes through the heart too fast for the atria to fill with blood properly and can lead to fibrillation.
An electrophysiologist uses a number of diagnostic tools to determine what is causing an irregular heartbeat and decide on the best way to treat it. A patient’s symptoms can help to narrow down the possible causes. An electrocardiogram (EKG) can be used to see electrical activity of the heart. Other tests such as an echocardiogram, cardiac MRI, Holter monitor and stress test may also be needed to help with diagnosis.
An electrophysiologist can use a number of treatment modalities to fix irregular heartbeats. The type of treatment will depend on the type of arrhythmia. Medication is sometimes enough to correct the problem. Radiofrequency catheter ablation is a procedure that uses heat to destroy a small area of the heart that is causing the irregular heartbeat.
A pacemaker can be surgically implanted to help stabilize the heartbeat.
To become an electrophysiologist requires a minimum of eight years of post-secondary education. This includes 4 years of college and 4 years of medical school. A majority of the training is done in a hospital or doctor’s office setting. One of the last steps to becoming an electrophysiologist is to complete a 2-year electrophysiology fellowship.
Being an electrophysiologist is an extremely demanding job that requires long hours and hard work. There is also a lot of on-the-job training involved.
Sources & references used in this article:
Magnetoencephalography for brain electrophysiology and imaging by S Baillet – Nature neuroscience, 2017 – nature.com
Open Ephys: an open-source, plugin-based platform for multichannel electrophysiology by JH Siegle, AC López, YA Patel… – Journal of neural …, 2017 – iopscience.iop.org
Electrophysiology of mental activities by E Jacobson – The American Journal of Psychology, 1932 – JSTOR
… processing. A report for health professionals by an ad hoc writing group of the Committee on Electrocardiography and Cardiac Electrophysiology of the Council … by PJ Zimetbaum, ME Josephson – 2017 – Lippincott Williams & Wilkins