Cardiac Clinical Specialist & Medical Device Careers

A cardiac clinical specialist provides procedural support, patient monitoring, and training and education. The clinical specialist enables the clinical and technical applications of medical devices by performing diagnostic tests during complex cardiac procedures including device implantations and electrophysiology mapping.

Duties are performed while a cardiac device implant or EP mapping procedure is being performed on the patient and during the post-operative monitoring of patients who have cardiac devices implanted. Additional patient monitoring responsibilities include device checks through in-person and remote monitoring. Responsibilities include training and education on devices and procedures for healthcare professionals, colleagues and patients.

Career growth opportunities are broad since clinical and device specialist jobs exist in all medical specialties. Job titles in the cardiac space include field clinical representative, technical sales support representative and EP mapping specialist. In device clinics and healthcare systems, job titles include device technician, pacemaker tech, EP tech, and device clinician.

Cardiac Clinical Specialist (CCS101)

Online course: 2.5 hrs video lessons with quizzes

PrepMD faculty introduction
cardiac medical and industry terminology
cardiac anatomy & physiology
blood flow
cardiac electrophysiology basics
the electrical conduction system
PrepMD admissions process and interview tips

A Career for Life
Working as a cardiac clinical specialist or cardiac device specialist offers the opportunity for a personally satisfying career while making a good living. It’s gratifying to have some of the country’s best cardiologists looking to you for expertise about a cardiac medical device. It’s fulfilling to know your company’s product helps people overcome heart problems. And there is no better feeling than knowing that your work as a cardiac clinical specialist has helped a patient lead a fuller life.

What you do: Most cardiac clinical specialists or device specialists balance clinical support and commercial functions in their role. Device Specialists support device implantation procedures, visit clinics to run diagnostic tests to monitor patient’s devices such as pacemakers and ICDs, and present technical product information at company meetings and to physicians and clinic staff. Electrophysiology Mapping Specialists support EP procedures such as cardiac ablation by performing 3D mapping of the heart and performing diagnostic tests.

Where You May Work
Cardiac medical device specialists may work directly for manufacturers or within cardiovascular device clinics or EP/cath labs in hospitals and other health care provider settings. Major global manufacturers of cardiac and EP devices and therapies include Abbott Laboratories, Boston Scientific, Medtronic, Biotronik, LivaNova, Johnson & Johnson, and Impulse Dynamics.There are other emerging companies that manufacture unique types of cardiac medical devices including diagnostic and imaging equipment.

CIED Clinical Specialist Positions: Manufacturer-employed cardiac device specialists ensure functionality of pacemakers and ICDs during implantation and on an ongoing basis throughout the life-time of these devices. Their work schedules are unpredictable, include on-call duty and travel frequently within their geography.

EP Clinical Specialist / Mapping Specialist Positions: Manufacturer-employed EP mapping specialists or clinical specialists guide electrophysiologists by performing complex 3D mapping of the heart. These individuals travel frequently within their geography but typically have a more predictable schedule and limited patient interaction.

Device Clinic Positions: Cardiac device technicians hired by device clinics and hospitals typically work a set schedule Monday-Friday. They enable successful pacemaker and ICD implantation and/or perform ongoing in-person evaluation and remote monitoring of patients who have these devices.

Personal Qualities You May Need
This is a rewarding line of work—but it’s also a demanding one. You will need to develop a strong clinical understanding and technical expertise about your product and your competitors’ products while also managing customer relationships. The best cardiac medical device specialists are:

Driven—willing to work hard, work long, and spot opportunities
Quick studies—able to absorb and apply new information in a short amount of time
Personable—medical device careers touch many lives, and you should be able to relate to everyone you meet on your sales round
Detail-oriented—your work has a direct impact on patient quality of life
Clear communicators—you’ll need to persuade and instruct as part of your role, so writing and presentation skills matter
Confident handling data—whether it’s device data or sales data, you will need to analyze numbers and create reports
Comfortable in medical settings—you’re likely to be present at operations, so a sturdy constitution is necessary

What You Can Earn
Starting salaries vary depending on the exact nature of your job and the organization you work for, but PrepMD graduates’ starting base salaries have ranged between $60K-$80K per year. This doesn’t include bonuses and other compensation including travel allowances or benefits. The average starting package of our participants is $84K per year. However, PrepMD does not guarantee that a graduate will earn the stated amount, as many factors influence actual earnings and the components of an individual’s total compensation package.

Career Growth Opportunities
Since cardiac clinical specialist and device specialist teams are well structured within the organizations, the individuals have opportunity to grow up the ranks in these teams. You may become a Certified Cardiac Device Specialist (CCDS) or Certified Electrophysiology Specialist (CEPS) after gaining experience in the field and taking an examination conducted by International Board of Heart Rhythm Society (IBHRE©). Most clinical specialists start off in CRM devices or EP mapping ablation and cryotherapy. As they progress in their careers clinical specialists may pursue clinical management or sales roles, or move into clinical roles in other specialty areas such as interventional and structural heart cardiology. PrepMD graduates continue to succeed as cardiac device specialists or get into sales, marketing, training or product research & development roles based on their career goals.

Cardiac Devices and Therapies - a career with a positive outlook

  • 43% cardiac rhythm management (CIED, EP)
  • 24% cardiac prosthetic devices
  • 15% interventional cardiology
  • 11% cardiac monitoring & diagnostics
  • 7% others

Approximately 92 million Americans are living with cardiovascular disease and the cardiovascular global market value is currently estimated at $67 billion. Cardiac Rhythm Management which includes implantable devices such as pacemakers and ICDs and electrophysiology therapies makes up the largest single segment of the cardiovascular medical device market.

The Cardiovascular Implantable Electronic Device (CIED) most people are familiar with is the pacemaker, which helps control irregular or slow heartbeats by means of electronic stimulation. Pacemakers first came to market in the late 1950s, with the approval of the external pacemaker. In 1960, the FDA approved the first implantable pacemaker. In the 1980’s this CIED group was joined by the introduction of the implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) which can shock a patient experiencing a sudden cardiac death (SCD) event.

Together these devices have saved millions of patients’ lives and have improved the quality of life for millions more. CIED and EP device manufacturers have continually refined the design and function of pacemakers, ICDs, electrophysiology (EP) mapping and ablation catheters over the years, making them safer and more effective for the patients who need them.

Emerging developments in the field include remote monitoring and optimization of CIED performance over the internet, and miniaturization. Mapping and ablation catheters probe the frontiers of curative therapies for cardiac arrhythmias. Future generations of CIEDs are likely to be small enough to implant completely inside the heart. And EP devices continue to evolve at a rapid rate. Research shows that world-wide electrophysiology market specifically is growing at 13.4% per year.

Cardiac Therapies

What is Cardiac Rhythm Management? Cardiac Rhythm Management (CRM) includes implantable devices to treat either too slow a heart rhythm (pacemakers) or too fast a rhythm (cardioverter defibrillators).

  • Bradycardia (slow heartbeat)
  • Tachycardia (fast heartbeat)
  • Heart block (disruption of an electrical signal which controls the heart’s pumping action)
  • Atrial fibrillation (irregular fast heartbeat in the atria)
  • Ventricular fibrillation (irregular fast heartbeat in the ventricles)
  • Long QT syndrome (when the heart takes dangerously long to recharge between beats)

A pacemaker
is a small device containing a pulse generator and leads. It is placed under the skin in the chest with leads threaded through veins into the heart to help control abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) using electrical pulses to prompt the heart to beat at a normal rate.  Patients with a slow heart are said to have bradycardia. Pacemakers are implanted in patients with bradycardia to stimulate the heart to beat at a normal rate and pump more effectively. Bradycardia occurs when the electrical signal from the sinus atrial (SA) node slow or disappear and do not produce enough beats. Bradycardia may also occur when the patient has AV block when not all heartbeats are able to travel from the top chamber to the bottom chamber of the heart.

An Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD)
detects and stops abnormal heartbeats or arrhythmias.The ICD continuously monitors the heartbeat and delivers electrical pulses or high energy shock to restore a normal heart rhythm when necessary. ICDs prevent sudden death in ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation patients. Ventricular tachycardia occurs when the bottom chambers of the heart (the ventricles) beat too fast and have a hard time pumping blood. Ventricular fibrillation occurs when the ventricles beat too fast and unevenly making the heart flutter resulting in little or no blood pumped to the body and brain.

An Electrophysiology (EP) study
and catheter ablation or cryotherapy procedures are performed to evaluate and treat cardiac arrhythmias, or abnormal heart rhythms by disabling the heart cells that cause AF or Atrial Fibrillation in order to restore the heart to a normal rhythm. An EP study is done at the beginning of a cardiac ablation procedure for arrhythmia. Cardiac ablation uses heat or cold energy to create scar tissue in the heart to block erratic electrical signals.

Clinical specialist roles and responsibilities

A Cardiac Clinical Specialist must have a deep knowledge of cardiac therapies and products and the associated clinical data. This position requires someone with a strong clinical aptitude that can work in a team environment.The Clinical Specialist supports all areas of cardiac cases including pre-case planning and patient recommended treatments. The Cardiac Clinical Specialist is a trusted advisor and seen as a clinical expert by the treatment team.

Cardiac Clinical Specialist employed by a corporation

  • Serve as primary resource for clinical support in the areas of surgical coverage, basic troubleshooting, programming, and patient follow-up for company products.
  • Educate physicians, nurses and hospital staff on the merits and proper clinical usage of company products by giving presentations and demonstrations.
  • Attends cardiac device implants and therapies in the labs and operating room and performs patient follow-up to assure customer and patient success with the implanted products
  • Develops relationships with hospital personnel to identify key decision makers to facilitate future sales.
  • Trains on and maintains knowledge of clinical trial protocols, standard operating procedures, and compliance.
  • Manages clinical trial activity within assigned territory.
  • Educates clinical investigators on clinical trial protocols, clinical process, and investigational products and features.
  • Responds to customer needs and complaints regarding products and service to develop optimal solutions.
  • Follows company and divisional guidelines for managing product inventory.
  • On-call duties may be required

Electrophysiology Mapping Specialist employed by a corporation

  • Serves as primary resource for clinical support in the areas of case coverage, basic troubleshooting, system/software development for EP mapping system and catheters.
  • Educates on the merits and proper clinical usage of mapping system by giving presentations and demonstrations.
  • Attends cases in labs of hospital accounts for case support and development efforts.
  • Providing initial and continuous training and feedback for development team and sales representatives on mapping system, development process, products and features, and procedures involving those products and features.
  • Meets with physicians, physician office groups at hospitals to identify their clinical needs, goals, and constraints related to patient care and to discuss and demonstrate how company products can help them to achieve their goals.
  • Develops relationships with hospital personnel to make new contacts in other departments within hospital and to identify key decision makers in order to facilitate future sales.
  • Responds to customer needs and complaints regarding products and service by developing creative and feasible solutions or working with other team members to develop optimal solutions.
  • Will be required to maintain advanced clinical knowledge of cardiac ablation, cardiac ablation components, technical knowledge of EP technology, advancements, and business landscape.

Cardiac Device Technician employed by a hospital

  • Does full evaluation and assessment of patients with pacemakers, ICD’s, CRT devices and ILR’s; Reprograms devices as required.
  • Enrolls, interrogates and programs patients with cardiac devices and recognizes abnormalities, malfunctions and alert indicators.
  • Assists in scheduling patients for follow up, remote monitoring, or replacement as indicated.
  • Coordinates and prioritizes with other members of the healthcare team to respond to patients, plan, and initiate timely and efficient care.
  • Educates patients and families regarding device function and remote and / or clinic follow up scheduling.
  • Ensures timely and proper documentation and billing.
  • Participates in the device recall team if necessary.
  • Supports all aspects of documentation in the electronic CIED reporting system and the Electronic Medical Record.
  • Maintains knowledge of hospital, department, and regulatory agency policies and requirements.
  • Is available to perform duties in satellite and affiliate device clinics as needed.

Electrophysiology Technician employed by a hospital

  • Assists the physician in the invasive testing and/or treatment of patients in the Electrophysiology Lab, including specialized technical support and assistance to the physician in the precise diagnostic mapping of patient-specific lesions, related testing and treatment of patients.
  • Provides technical expertise including monitoring, recording and mapping systems and equipment used for ablations.
  • Demonstrates a functional understanding of the radiology imaging equipment. Demonstrates an understanding of the features of various catheters and other supplies used for EP procedures and is able to assist with complex cases.
  • Demonstrates a knowledge and ability to interpret complex cardiac rhythms during procedures in the EP lab.
  • Demonstrates a knowledge and ability to interpret hemodynamic pressures and wave forms.
  • Demonstrates the ability to safely scrub and assist the physician during the EP procedures including implantation of cardiac rhythm management device procedures.

Advancing in your career - additional cardiac specialties

Clinical Specialist jobs exist in many cardiology specialty areas. Most clinical specialists start off in CRM devices or EP mapping ablation and cryotherapy. As they progress in their careers clinical specialists may pursue clinical management or sales roles, or move into clinical roles in other specialty areas such as interventional and structural heart cardiology. Clinical specialists work in each of these cardiac specialty areas below where they support cardiac procedures such as coronary stents, valve repair and replacement, and appendage closure devices.

cardiac rhythm management devices
cardiac ablation and cryotherapy
left atrial appendage closure
lead extraction

Interventional Cardiology

coronary intervention (stenting)
atrial septal defect closure
chronic total occlusion (blockage)

Structural Heart

transcatheter aortic valve repair
left atrial appendage closure
mitral valve clip

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