One of the ironic things about healthcare is that as the baby boomers age and retire in larger numbers, they will also begin to require more healthcare. In other words, they will decrease the supply of healthcare providers as they create an increase in demand for them.
At the 2018 ASET Annual Conference, Cathy Boldery, R.EEG/EP T., RPSGT, CNIM, CCT, FASET, delivered the Kathleen Mears Memorial Lecture. In a presentation titled “Can We Solidify the Future of Neurodiagnostic Technology?,” Boldery emphasized that the field of neurodiagnostics, in particular, is poised to be hit hard by this looming demographic shift. She shared some troubling numbers that emphasize the concern: With only 6,500 active neurodiagnostic technologists (NDTs) in the U.S., there is already a shortage. And as baby boomers start to retire in larger numbers, the 300 new NDT graduates each year won’t be able to meet the growing demand.
The existing shortfall has already created a problem of encroachment by other allied health professionals into providing services typically offered by NDTs. This issue goes back decades, but as the shortage of NDTs worsens this issue will certainly become worse.
To combat the issue of NDT shortage, Boldery explained, ASET is making efforts to increase numbers and protect the profession.
First, ASET is facilitating a licensure path. This will serve the purpose of protecting the profession from being parceled out to other specialties. Licensure may offer some protection for the NDT scope of practice and against extinction of the independent neurodiagnostic technician. For this reason, if a clear path to licensure were to exist, it may encourage people considering a career in allied health to pursue the NDT path.
Second, ASET is working to increase the number of students who complete NDT training programs. The ASET Formal Education Task Force is working to increase the number of programs who offer NDT training by providing institutions with “the information necessary to create degree programs in Neurodiagnostic Technology.” In a letter to post-secondary educational institutions, the task force outlined the growing demand for technologists and encouraged institutions to establish Associate Degree programs in Neurodiagnostic Technology.
For the individual already working in NDT, involvement with ASET is the best way to help assure the future of the career. ASET advocates for the profession through activities such as working toward professional licensure programs, legislative action, grassroots campaigns, and other activities. Bringing together those who have directly experienced what is happening in the field to work on these activities is the best way to create solutions to ensure its future.
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