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About the Author
Wes Todd

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Director Cardiac Self Assessment
(Spokane, Washington)
Spotlight Interview from Cath Lab Digest

Q: People know you as the author of the Invasive RCIS Review books.
How did you get your background in cardiac catheterization?

Wes Todd in the cath lab

I started in 1962 in the Cardiopulmonary Department of the VA hospital in Portland Oregon. In these early years, most of our cases were hemodynamic studies on valve cases with lots of transseptal caths. This was the same time as Dotter and Judkins were developing their first catheters and Dr. Starr was implanting the first ball-in-cage heart valves. Although they worked right across the street, I didn't realize how germinal their work was. However, within five years I moved to Portland's Providence Hospital where Judkins style coronary arteriography had already become routine. During this time I continued to take college night classes.

Q: Did you finish your degree while working in the cath lab?

Yes, it took two more years. And I took engineering courses that related to hemodynamics, computers, and human physiology. I finally got my degree in 1970 and accepted the teaching job at a new CPT school in Spokane Washington.

Q: Tell me about your teaching career.

Wes in Las Vegas Wes in the lab... Lab Vegas

I was a single parent, in a new city, setting up a new program in Cardiopulmonary Technology. It was hard. But I loved the challenge. Dr. Paul Shields had started a CVT training program at the Spokane Community College. This was the first two-year CVT program in the country. Our only model was the Navy CP program in Bethesda, MD.

It soon became apparent that Spokane's two hospitals could not provide all the clinical training needed for our CVT students. So, I set up clinical sites in other hospitals around the NW. We recruited only the best CV labs for student training. My criterion always was, which lab would give the student the best "hands on experience."

Every time I visited one of these cath labs, I felt a kinship with the CVTs working there. Then my students became traveling ambassadors for CVT education. The best cath labs are eager to share their knowledge with a willing learner. This has been true in medicine since the time of Hippocrates - the student mentor relationship.

Q: You're retired now - right?

Yes. In 1993, I felt the need to change. And I thought I might make a go at expanding my Review Books. Although I retired at the age of 52, I still miss the students and learning environment.

Since many of my graduates work in the local hospitals, I enjoy weekly visits to the cath lab lounge. I also attend the weekly cath conferences, classes, and give occasional lectures to the CVT students. It keeps me excited about the cath lab. And of course writing keeps me involved in my own research.

Q: I heard that Washington has a State law "registering" CVTs. Were you involved with this?

Yes. That is Washington's "Health Care Assistant Legislation." It allows CVTs to perform many expanded duties under the supervision of a nurse or physician - like administering lidocaine (and other medications) and putting in sheaths. They must meet several education requirements and be instructed to do these things by the physician.

I'll leave the details of this law to an upcoming article from Darren Powell, who took my place as the Invasive Program Director at the Spokane Community College.

Q: How did you get involved with the RCIS registry examinations?

I took my first RCPT exam in Invasive Cardiology in 1973. And I have taken it six times since then for self assessment purposes. It has always been a hard exam. Fortunately, I passed each time. I became determined to improve the examination.

As head of the ACVP's Examinations committee, I produced and published the 1975 examinations. I also developed a computer program to analyze each candidate's score showing their strong and weak areas.

Later, the Psychological Corporation developed and administered the exams, and I was on the ACVP's invasive exam review board for several years. Their experience taught me a lot about question design assessment. Thank God, CCI eventually took over writing and administering these examinations.

Over my 23 years of teaching, I wrote thousands of student tests. I developed sets of questions typed on cards that I kept in a "shoe box." I could shuffle my cards on any topic, Xerox them, and administer a test within 10 to 20 minutes. Of course, now the computer has replaced the shoe box.

Q: Is that how you developed your "CV Review Books?"

Dennis Darren and Wes Todd D. Carney, D. Powell, & W. Todd
Well, the "shoe box" was a tool. I had a bank of questions to draw from.

Actually, in the 1980s, some of my Invasive students were failing the RCIS exam. So I developed mock exams to prepare them for the registry. At that time, Dennis Carney, our Echo instructor at the college, was then on CCI's board of directors. He suggested that I start selling my mock exams, that there was a market out there. In 1990, I started selling stapled-packets of 200 questions and answers. Anyone could copy them - and they did; they were very successful at raising people's exam scores.

Q: Then, did you enlarge the book so it could not be copied so easily?

No. I realized that the small packet of questions could not begin to cover the depth and breadth of knowledge that the exams covered. They expect you to be cross-trained in everything: Cardiology, Nursing, X-ray, Operating room and Hemodynamic technology. There was a need for a book for us - the cross-trained individuals. I was tired of the textbooks written by doctors for doctors. I wanted to write for working cath lab people cardiovascular lab staff.

I felt a mission to carry my classroom teaching from Spokane to all those working techs I had met in setting up clinical sites around the country. Most of them had no CVT schooling. There were no schools. They needed what our school offered. I had the necessary background, a library of current textbooks and a computer.

So I spent the first two years of my retirement researching and writing the two CV Review Books now on the market. During this last year, I have developed a Basic CV Science Review Book and come out with a 2nd edition of the Invasive CV Review Books. These new books reflect the changes occurring in the RCIS examinations. I recently spent most 2011 working on another book: for electrophysiology techs and nurses. I love researching and writing questions.

Q: Do you publish them yourself?

Yes. I research each idea, write the questions, answers, and do all the art work myself. All those years of teaching and writing tests gave me this background. Then I get them printed, take the orders, mail them out, and do the the office work. So you see, I'm not really retired: this is a full time job. Recently I partnered with a brilliant electrophysiology tech, April Edberg, to write the first EP Review book for the EP exams. This has been a whole new field for me to explore.

Q: Wes, you have been involved in the CV field since the beginning. Where do you see the field going?

I see great hope for the cath invasive lab professions. It has always been exciting. Where else could you so dramatically improve a patient in the acute stages of myocardial infarction or in atrial fibrillation? And cross-training is making the cath invasive labs a fun place to work again. The RCIS and RCES encourages this.

As the RCIS registry becomes a requirement for employment, everyone will become unified under it. Then everyone's comfort zones will expand to eliminate the old turf boundaries which often pitted CVT against RT against RN. By elevating our own standards and unifying all cath invasive lab professionals, we build trust and prove ourselves to the medical community.

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Phone: 509.926.0344
Email: info@WesTodd.com
Wes Todd, BS, RCIS.
Cardiac Self Assessment
S. 1605 Clinton Rd.
Spokane Valley, WA 99216-0420

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Wes Todd's Cardio Review