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September 12, 2017

JCCC's neurodiagnostic program sets the pace for accreditation.

Hospitals from all over the region are clamoring to hire JCCC Neurodiagnostic Technology graduates (NDTs). According to Dr. Renee Portmann, program director, approximately 1,800 NDT positions are on popular job-search websites at any given time. Grads nationwide report earning upward of $40,000 a year.

“The need is immediate,” Portmann said.

Seven of the 10 graduates from the first class had jobs before they walked across the stage. The others were employed very shortly after they earned their degrees. Of those, two are already board certified.

JCCC’s cutting-edge program, which began in 2015, trains students to monitor the brain and nervous system. It’s one of only 16 programs in the country and the only one with a pediatric focus.

No. 1 in USA for pediatric focus

Thanks to a consortial effort with Children's Mercy Kansas City and the University of Kansas, JCCC is able to offer NDT pediatric specialty training. Portmann leads the program with the assistance of Anna-Marie Beck, clinical director of neurodiagnostic technology at Children’s Mercy. Four instructors are dedicated to efficiently teaching students how to conduct electroencephalograms (EEGs), evoked potentials (EPs), nerve conduction studies (NCS) and sleep studies on adults and children.

With additional hospital training, students can choose one of five pathways to develop a specialty to fit their interests. With or without specialty training, technicians have the ability to work with children or adults.

“A pediatric specialty is extremely valuable in the market as pediatricians and neurologists expand testing for epilepsy and other conditions affecting the brain and nervous system,” Beck said.

A+ accreditation

Other schools are being encouraged to replicate JCCC’s program. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs found no deficiencies during its site visit last fall, and it has called JCCC’s course of study a “model program.”

“The accreditors want to use our program as a learning tool for other schools to achieve accreditation,” Portmann said. “So evidently, we are doing a lot of things right.”

Demographics and details

In one particular classroom this fall, there’s an array of students of many nationalities and backgrounds, with prior education ranging from a high school diploma to a doctoral degree. This fall’s beginning NDT class is made up of six women and six men.

“Traditionally, women have been attracted to allied health,” Portmann said. “This is an opportunity for many males to use technology as well as their people skills in helping others.”

Many times, experience can be our best education, Portmann said. “So, we are encouraged that second-year students want to start a mentoring club to benefit the first-year students with tutoring and encouragement.”

Portmann says successful students should have tact, patience (as they will be working with all ages) and compassion. Manual dexterity and a capacity to deal with visual, electrical and computer concepts are also very important. “Good critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities are a must,” she said.

Healthcare paradigms are shifting rapidly, and soon NDTs may be required to be certified so that insurance companies will pay for neurodiagnostic procedures. JCCC is on board in helping area professionals keep up with requirements, and qualifying courses are in the works.