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How to Build a Certified EKG Technician (CET) Curriculum

December 12th, 2023 | 7 min. read

Brad Hummel

Brad Hummel

Coming from a family of educators, Brad knows both the joys and challenges of teaching well. Through his own teaching background, he’s experienced both firsthand. As a writer for iCEV, Brad’s goal is to help teachers empower their students by listening to educators’ concerns and creating content that answers their most pressing questions about career and technical education.

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The NHA Certified EKG Technician (CET) exam gets your students ready to enter the workforce as EKG technicians.

The need for EKG technicians is on the rise because as the country’s aging population grows, more people will need to be regularly monitored for heart-related conditions.

But how do you actually teach a course that prepares your students for the exam?

You’ll need to build a great CET curriculum to help your students succeed on the exam and in their careers!

There are five key steps to build your perfect certified EKG technician curriculum:

  1. Know the details of the exam
  2. Review your standards
  3. Connect with local healthcare providers
  4. Choose your instructional materials
  5. Build your curriculum

We’ll start with the most important step first -- knowing what’s on the NHA CET exam!

1. Know the Details of the NHA CET Exam

Before you can plan and build your curriculum that aligns to the NHA CET exam, you need to know what’s on it!

The NHA CET exam includes 100 test questions, which fall into three topic areas:

  1. Safety, Compliance, & Coordinated Patient Care
  2. EKG Acquisition
  3. EKG Analysis & Interpretation

Each domain includes additional subtopics and supporting knowledge statements your students will need to know.

Once you know the ins-and-outs of the exam, you can move onto the next step of building your curriculum!

2. Review Your EKG Tech Course Standards

You need to prepare students for the CET exam, but you probably have to align your class syllabus with other requirements as well.

These requirements often come in the form of state, district, or school standards.

Some states, like Florida and Georgia, have state-wide standards for health science courses, which means a school on one side of the state teaches the exact same information as a school on the other side of the state.

But for some states, course standards can vary from district to district.

To make sure you don’t miss anything, ask your CTE administrator about the specifics of your EKG technician course standards!

You can also check in with other health science teachers in your area. If you happen to be the only health science instructor in your district — which many educators are — you can always join an online group to ask your peers!

Finding a group can help you figure out the standards you need to meet while giving you some extra ideas on how you can best help your students succeed.

Once you know your course requirements and the NHA test standards, it’s time to connect with healthcare professionals in your community!

3. Connect with Local Healthcare Providers

While preparing your students to take the NHA CET exam is the goal of your course, you also have to help your students pursue a rich, fulfilling career after the exam is done!

After they leave your class, it’s off to work as certified EKG technicians! That’s why it’s critical for you to connect with local healthcare providers — they’re the ones who will employ your students.

When you speak with them, you can ask if there are any additional skills new EKG techs seem to be lacking. After all, if there is a disconnect between school and the workplace, the first people to notice will be the ones who do the work every day!

It’s possible your local providers need EKG technicians to do additional tasks from time to time that aren’t always a typical requirement. Whether you hear two needs or 20, the feedback from professionals will help you prepare your students for their real-world careers!

Now that you know everything you should teach to get your students ready, it’s time to find the resources to help you teach the content!

4. Choose Your Instructional Materials

When looking for materials to help build your CET curriculum the four most popular choices are:

  • Test prep materials
  • Textbooks
  • Free online resources
  • Digital curriculum

Depending on your teaching preferences or the learning style of your students, you could find one (or more) of these options to work in your classroom!

CET Test Prep Materials

Test prep materials are some of the most common classroom resources that health science teachers use to prep students for the NHA CET exam. Study guides and practice tests are great ways to reinforce information and help your students review exactly what’s on the exam.

That’s why the NHA provides test prep materials specific to the CET certification that can set your students up for success.

Unfortunately, test prep materials only help you teach to the test. After all, they’re designed to measure what your students know — not teach them new information!

That’s why you need to use other instructional materials for your curriculum.

Health Science Textbooks

Textbooks are the most common resource for health science instructors since most teachers are familiar with using a book to teach.

Textbooks can help students learn basic concepts, but when it comes to the skills your students need to learn, textbooks tend to fall flat.

EKG technicians not only need to understand the basics of EKG tracings, but they also need hands-on practice with reading them!

That’s why so many teachers look for other resources to add to their curriculum.

Free Online EKG Resources

When you need to teach students to read and interpret EKG strips, there are a lot of options out there.

Overall, we’ve found four excellent tools that teach EKG interpretation:

  • EKG Academy
  • Practical Clinical Skills
  • Life in the Fastlane
  • SkillStat

These EKG resources can be used in class or at home to help students learn to read EKG tracings.

Still, free resources can only take you so far in a semester- or year-long course! You’re still going to need a main instructional resource to use from day one until your students head out to take the CET exam!

Digital Curriculum for EKG Technician Courses

A digital curriculum system is designed to help you introduce concepts, teach skills, and get students ready for their certification exams.

It includes student lessons, classroom activities, teacher presentations, lesson plans, assessments, EKG interpretation scenarios, and more.

On top of that, teachers love using the iCEV digital curriculum specifically because it’s automatically updated when course standards or the NHA CET requirements change.

(Unfortunately, we can’t vouch for how often other digital curriculum developers update their resources.)

That means if you use a digital curriculum, you can rest assured your students are always learning the most relevant, accurate information out there!

That’s why so many EKG tech teachers use the iCEV Health Science curriculum in their classrooms.

When it comes down to it, each type of instructional material has its pros and cons for teaching EKG tech classes. Once you’ve nailed down what you want to use, it’s time to put it all together and build your curriculum!

5. Put Your CET Curriculum Together

When you finally get to building your CET curriculum, it’s best to pick one stand-out resource as your main instructional material. Most teachers will either go with a textbook or digital curriculum system (though in some cases they’ll use both).

Then throw in other supplemental materials as needed to ensure you hit every standard needed for your course!

At this point, it’s smart to plan your course syllabus to make sure you won’t miss any details.

Some teachers do this work all on their own during their summer down time, but we find you can make the most of your time and energy by trying something new!

Teach Your Certified EKG Technician Classes with iCEV

Choosing the right resources for your Certified EKG Technician (CET) curriculum can make all the difference between students being prepared for success or falling behind their peers. While reviewing the exam standards and using test prep resources can help learners prepare for test day, the best way to ensure students are prepared for certification is to use a comprehensive EKG curriculum.

That's why health science instructors across the United States use iCEV to teach concepts and skills to prepare students for the NHA CET exam.

With iCEV, you’ll find hundreds of hours of curriculum content to cover the information on the exam and satisfy your course standards!

Best of all, iCEV is mapped to the NHA CET test plan, so you can see exactly how it will help you and your students.

Want to discover if iCEV is right for your CET curriculum? Sign up for a free trial. You'll receive full access to the health science curriculum to decide if it's best for your students.

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