PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Melissa Clayton, an electroneurodiagnostic technician at Naval Hospital Pensacola (NHP), recently became the only registered nerve conduction study technologist in the Navy.
The Uniontown, Ohio, native can now test the nerves of patients to see how efficiently their nerves transmit and receive signals from their spinal cord.
Clayton originally joined the Navy in 2012 to help achieve her goal of completing medical school. While attending the Navy's school for electroneurodiagnostic technicians at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Clayton was exposed to only one day of nerve conduction training during the six month course. That one day struck a nerve with Clayton.
"When I arrived at Naval Hospital Pensacola, we were not doing nerve conduction studies on patients," said Clayton. "I found an old nerve conduction machine and started teaching myself how to use it."
Nerve conduction studies evaluate the function of the motor and sensory nerves of the human body. Some of the common symptoms that a nerve conduction study would be used for include numbness of extremities, signs of carpal tunnel and nerve issues from the spinal cord.
To complete her registry with the American Association of Electrodiagnostic Technologists, Clayton had to have at least an associate degree in neurodiagnostic technology or an equivalent program and over 300 patient studies. Clayton earned her associate degree and began compiling patient studies with the help of Lt. Joseph Cahill, neurologist at NHP. To pay for the exam fees, Clayton used Navy COOL.
Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL) helps Navy service members find information on certification and licenses related to their jobs. Navy COOL also has a voucher program that will pay for eligible credentialing exams, recertification fees and maintenance fees.
"It was a lot of work, but it was really interesting and I had a lot of fun learning about nerve conduction," said Clayton. "Lieutenant Cahill really helped me a lot too. He spent time during his lunch or after work helping me; I couldn't have completed this without him."
Clayton now sees 10 to 12 patients a week at the Neurology Clinic at NHP that previously had to be referred to a civilian network provider. Each of her studies last about two hours and include an appointment with Cahill.
"Our patients enjoy getting their care here at NHP," said Clayton. "I'm glad I was able to complete this registry and provide this service to them."
Clayton is also the enlisted technical leader for the 22 electroneurodiagnostic technicians in the Navy. She is currently working with the school command at Fort Sam Houston to increase the nerve conduction training students initially receive. She hopes the additional training will lead to more registered nerve conduction study technologist in the Navy.
"She is amazing Sailor and corpsman," said Lt. Jessica Howell, division officer for specialty clinics at NHP. "We are very fortunate to have her at this command, and I know she will continue to do great things throughout her career."
Clayton is still pursuing her goal of attending medical school, but for now she is focused on conducting nerve conduction studies for patients at NHP.
"I still want to attend medical school," said Clayton, "but for now I'm just giving my full attention to the patients I see and trying my best to help them."
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