So now I am going to discuss IPE days and lab days, both of which are the hands-on aspect of the cardio tech program. For myself, I really enjoyed the lab days and I feel I learned a lot for the duration of the lab block. Lab days are the days in which we are essentially in a classroom, as a class, face to face. You get hands on experience performing ECGs and feedback immediately from the instructors. The instructors share their tips and skills to help you along with your learning. You also get a lot of practice on interpretations and you have plenty of help to walk you through any material that might be fuzzy from the theory portion of the course. I liked the labs a lot because the theory that we had learned was put into practice, it solidified everything and the importance of what we learned in the cardio tech practice. It was also great working with the other students because they are a great source in working through any problems. The lab days are the first stage to learning to perform ECGs and work as a cardio tech.
An IPE day on the other hand, is a day where we go to our placement hospital and get to practice what we have learned in labs under the guidance of the cardio techs that are working there. As a student we observe how the techs work and try some ECGs out on patients. What I really liked about going to the hospital and practicing there is that it is a lot easier to put your skills into practice with an actual patient. You don’t feel goofy “acting” out scenarios with your friends and classmates because this is how you really have to treat a patient. You are seeing real ECGs and picking out abnormalities and can link that to a patient and the treatment they are receiving. You learn to troubleshoot taking recordings (like using tissues to hold down electrodes for indistinct readings). All the skills that feel silly to practice in lab are used and are not silly at all when you get to your practice placement.
What I found challenging with the practice days were that you are learning from so many different techs who have all been taught a different way and they all want to teach you their way of doing the job. This was a particular challenge for me because I am placed at a large hospital with a lot of people working there. This is great to try different skills but I found it confusing a lot of the time because some of them would do it totally different from the way I was taught. My advice should you be caught in this type of scenario is to listen and observe. If you think you can do an ECG like one of the techs, ask them to explain what they were doing and then try. Do not change your style for every tech you shadow because the important part is learning, putting your skills into practice and getting the job done right!
As a student in this scenario I think it is important to recognize that we must treat IPEs like an interview, we should be practicing our skills, asking questions, helping where we can. You never know where you might end up working someday and a first impression is everything!