Cardiac Medical Device & Clinical Specialist Careers

A medical device specialist or a clinical specialist

The specialist enables the clinical and technical applications of medical devices. These duties are performed in the procedure room while a procedure is being performed on the patient and/or in the post-operative monitoring of patients who have certain types of devices implanted. Medical device specialist jobs exist in all medical specialties. They may be referred to as field clinical representatives, technical sales support representatives, mapping specialists, etc. in the industry. In device clinics and healthcare systems, they may be referred to as device technicians (pacemakers techs and EP techs), device clinicians, etc.

What you do: Most cardiac medical device specialists balance clinical support and commercial functions in their role. You may support device implantation procedures, visit clinics to run diagnostic tests on a patient’s pacemaker (ongoing device monitoring), and present at company meetings all within the same week. In electrophysiology (EP) procedures such as cardiac ablation, you may be performing 3D mapping of the heart and performing diagnostic tests. You may also provide training for clinic personnel or practitioners on devices or monitoring equipment.

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.

CIED Clinical Specialist Positions: Manufacturer-employed cardiac device specialists ensure functionality of pacemakers and ICDs during implantation and on an ongoing basis through out the life time of these devices. They work long hours (more than 40 per week) and travel frequently within their area.

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 within their area but typically have a fixed schedule and limited patient interaction.

Device Clinic Positions: Cardiac device technicians hired by device clinics and hospitals typically work Monday-Friday with fixed timings. 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 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 giving an examination conducted by International Board of Heart Rhythm Society (IBHRE). A cardiac device specialist or a clinical specialist is also considered as an entry level position to get into a sales representative role. We have seen 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.

A Career for Life
Working as a cardiac device specialist offers the opportunity to make a good living. More importantly, it’s a personally satisfying career. 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 an adjustment you made to a device has helped a patient lead a fuller life.

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-Technical skill sets needed to begin a career
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Cardiac Rhythm Management

Cardiac Rhythm Management (CRM) Devices

CRM devices made up the largest single segment of the overall cardiovascular medical device market in 2015.

Market research firms estimate that the global market for all cardiovascular medical devices (including CRM devices, prosthetics, and other devices) could grow to $67 billion by 2019.

What are CIEDs?

The 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, 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.

Who Needs a CIED or an EP Device?

CIEDs or EP devices can extend life and improve quality of life by regulating the heart’s pumping action, which is controlled by electrical impulses. Patients of all ages may need a pacemaker, an ICD, or an ablation to assist with slow, fast, or erratic heartbeat. Conditions which may benefit from pacemaker or ICD implantation, or a cardiac ablation include:

  • 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)

CIEDs can also treat arrhythmias caused by acquired or congenital heart disease. They are implanted by cardiac electrophysiologists and regularly tested, monitored, and adjusted by medical device clinical specialists.

Who Are the Major Manufacturers of CIED and EP Devices?

Major global manufacturers of CIED and EP devices 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. With the right training and support from PrepMD, you can be ready to pursue career opportunities among many of them.

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