What could a young high-school grad from Vancouver, a lobster fisherwoman from Cape Breton, a Unit Clerk Assistant from Saskatoon, and a stay-at-home mom from Winnipeg have in common? Beyond a shared passion for the heart, they have all reached a significant milestone in their lives by earning the designation: Registered Cardiology Technologist (RCT).
Registered Cardiology Technologists are an important part of the health care team working closely with Cardiologists, Internal Medicine Specialists, Nurses, and other health care professionals. They conduct a wide variety of non-invasive cardiac diagnostic procedures including Electrocardiograms (ECGs), Exercise Stress Tests, Holter Monitoring and Event Monitoring.
Jonathan Aquino is not your typical 23-year old. He graduated high school as a shy, somewhat awkward teenager with big dreams that he was unsure of how to achieve. Raised by hard-working immigrant parents, Jonathan knew there was no shortcut to success and that hard work was the key. After exploring his options, Jonathan enrolled in the Medical Laboratory Assistant (MLA) program at Stenberg College in 2014.
At Stenberg, he discovered the passion, motivation, and confidence that had been missing in high school. When combined with the nurturing mentorship of instructors who were committed to his success and the camaraderie of his classmates, Jonathan grew into a voracious learner, a confident young professional, and a leader.
“I was kind of lost after high school…but Stenberg College gave me the confidence and showed me the path to success,” Jonathan recalled. He graduated from the program as the Student of the Year nominee with 98 per cent grade point average (GPA)!
Success begets success and shortly after completing the MLA program, Jonathan enrolled in Stenberg’s Cardiology Technology Diploma program. He saw it as the next step towards achieving his dream of becoming a doctor. Once again Jonathan aced the Cardio Tech program, graduating with a 98.4% GPA, the highest GPA ever for a Cardio Tech student at Stenberg. For a second time, Jonathan was nominated as the Student of the Year.
Currently working as Registered Cardiology Technologist at a private clinic, Jonathan is also finishing his Bachelor of Health Sciences degree from Thompson River University under a credit transfer agreement between Stenberg College and the university. By the end of the year, Jonathan intends to write his Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) for admission into medical school. “Before Stenberg, becoming a doctor seemed so far out of reach but now I know that my only limit is myself. I can push myself as far as I want. My future is up to me.”
As a Cardiology Technologist, his favorite part is working with the cardiologists. “I work in tandem with many cardiologists as we monitor the patients. I’m looking at the screen, they’re checking their heart auscultating at the same time, so it’s very, very hands-on. And I just love the patient care that goes into it.”
For Rayshelle Marsh it was the desire to do more in life that made her become a Cardio Tech. Rayshelle graduated in science with major in Chemistry from Cape Breton University but was working as a lobster fisherwoman in the family business. She was looking for a career in health care and one of her cousins, a recent grad of Stenberg grad, recommended Stenberg’s program. She enrolled in 2016 and fell in love with the field.
It was during the labs that Rayshelle was certain that she was meant to be a Cardio Tech. “At first, I was so scared. I was shaking, I was so nervous about doing it. And then you get into it and see that you’re not alone. The lab brings it all together. That’s where I was like, ‘this is where I want to be.’”
Rayshelle graduated from the program in April 2017 and passed the national exam to become a Registered Cardiology Technologist (RCT). She was hired three days after she passed the exam at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in a casual position. “I’ve been hired as a causal since the middle of June and I’ve been working pretty much full-time throughout the summer.”
Shift work as a casual worked well for her as she was also able to help with her family business. Sharing her experience with a room full of aspiring Cardiology Technologists in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Rayshelle said, “I never seem to escape the fishing but it’s works out really well for me that I could do both. With shift work, I can work two days here, two days there. You make your own work.”
Would you change your profession after 24 years to pursue a passion? Shelly Brick did and she’s loving her new role as a Cardiology Technologist. It was a difficult decision for Shelly to leave her steady job as a Unit Clerk Assistant in a Saskatoon hospital to pursue Cardiology Technology. She was working in health care since she was 19 and rose through the ranks over two decades to a unit clerk assistant, a position she held for 10 years. But she wanted more. Determined to find her passion, she job shadowed departments in her hospital and did a thorough research to find the perfect fit for her. It was Cardiology Technology that captured her heart. On her hospital’s Cardiology Technology department’s recommendation, she decided to enroll in the Stenberg program. But there were hurdles in her way that need to be tackled before she could follow her heart. Having graduated from high school 25 years, she had to upgrade some high school pre-requisites. “When I was upgrading my Grade 12, I had to write a math exam and I thought, ‘Here I am at this age in high school writing a math exam.’ I felt old but there was a lady beside me who was 78 years old! I was so amazed by her. If you want something bad enough then you should do it!” With this inspiration, Shelly marched forward into the program and emerged as a leader. She was nominated as the Student of the Year finalist for the program. “Doing it later on in life, there’s a lot more responsibility. I had a house to worry about, mortgage payments. It’s a little different than right out of high school. I was very proud that I actually accomplished it.” Shelly finished the program with a 96 per cent GPA and was hired as a Cardiology Technologist before graduation.
Cardiology Technologists are a critical part of the health care support staff and Shelly is enjoying her new responsibilities. “I enjoy the job. I get to work with Cardiologists, I get to do ECGs, I get to read them. Being able to read an ECG and tell the nurses what’s happening …it makes me feel good. It’s a very rewarding feeling.”
Stay-at-home mom Darlene Keith wanted to reboot her professional life but knew she could not go back to school full-time. She had a Bachelor of Science from the University of Winnipeg but was not sure if she wanted to work in research labs. She was looking for a flexible option that would allow her to work towards a career and let her stay closer to home. “One of the reasons I chose online was that I did not want to go from being a stay-at-home mom to a full-time student. For me, it would have been difficult and for my daughter, it would have been difficult. It was a perfect choice to be able to do my work from home and still get the hands-on training through the labs,” Darlene explained. What stood out the most to Darlene was the community-oriented culture of the online classes at Stenberg. Before starting the program, Darlene expected it to be like any other online program but was impressed when she saw her cohort come together online during their weekly Adobe Connect classes to answer questions, respond to forum posts and support each other. “The instructors from all the courses were really knowledgeable. They knew their material and were available to help. With universities, it’s different but here you could email somebody and they would email back at all hours of the day. Even if it was 10 p.m., you could email somebody and they would get back to you at 10 p.m.” Darlene was hired by her clinical site as a casual before completion of her program. After completion, she went on to work full-time at the Victoria General Hospital in Winnipeg. “The job of a Cardio Tech is incredibly fulfilling. You go to work and see patients from all different walks of life. Being able to sit with them, talk to them and make them feel better about the situation and then go away with a feeling that you really helped them at the end of the day, that’s the best part.
Stenberg College offers a 62-week Cardiology Technologist diploma program, which includes a 12-week practicum. Recognized by the Canadian Society of Cardiology Technologists (CSCT) and accredited by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), the program is delivered nationally across Canada in a combined delivery format. This format allows students in different regions to take the program while remaining in their home communities for all academic coursework with the possibility of some travel to complete orientation, lab, and clinical program requirements. If you’re inspired to become a Cardio Tech yourself, please contact us at [email protected] or 1-877-836-2374 for more information. We look forward to hearing from you!