Cardiac Cath Lab Nurse – Procedural Specialty Nursing
The Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory Nurse (Cardiac Cath Lab Nurse) is a highly trained specialist whose jobs begin the moment the patient is wheeled into the cath lab. Cardiac catheritization requires intense monitoring of patients and a thorough knowledge of the technology used to monitor the patient’s vital signs. The cardiac cath lab nurse will be thoroughly versed in telemetry, heart disease; normal and abnormal hearts functions and have a complete knowledge of the procedure to be performed.
Cardiac Cath Lab Nurse Job Description and Scope of Practice
The cardiac cath lab nurse deals with patients undergoing cardiac catheritization procedures. This could vary depending upon the clinic or hospital and the cath lab nurse might also assist in angioplasties, defibrillator implants, pacemakers and balloon pumps might be part of the job. In a large cardiac cath lab the nurse will deal only with the patient from the time they are wheeled in, until they are removed to recovery. This means while they will monitor the patient closely, administer IV meds and assist in the procedure they do not usually follow patients into recovery or educate them before they are released.
The cardiac cath lab nurse will be well versed in the telemetry required to monitor the patient’s heart function before after and during the procedure.
How to Become a Cardiac Cath Lab Nurse
Cardiac cath lab nurses require an RN license. They normally have had acute cardiac care experience, experience in cardiac recovery units, ICU or NICU experience. While for many hospitals the cardiac cath lab nurse is a procedural nurse not a bedside nurse, the cath lab nurse or sometimes called a cath lab RN, will usually have experience with bedside nursing and recovery before moving onward to the cath lab.
Cardiac Cath Lab Nurse Education Requirements, Certification, and Schooling Programs
- A current RN license is required. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing is almost always preferred for this position.
- Experience in cardiac care, ICU and telemetry is usually preferred though not necessarily required. Because the patient is vulnerable and requires such intense monitoring during procedures, the Cardiac Cath Lab nurse is normally a seasoned cardiac or intensive care nurse.
- New nurses may choose to take continuing education courses in cardiac care, and investigate training programs for cardiac care at local hospitals and online. The more the nurse learns about cardiac care the better prepared they are to take the step into the cardiac cath lab.
- Certification is available for the cardiac cath lab nurse who is currently employed in a cath lab. The certification can improve their resume and establish their qualifications for advancement. Nurses who work in heart-catheter labs can obtain certification through Cardiac Credentialing International (CCI). After meeting certain qualifications and passing an exam nurses receive credentials as a Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist (RCIS). Applicants must have two years experience working as an invasive specialist in a cath lab. The exam includes questions on topics including calculation/measurement, medical terminology, cardiovascular pathology, pharmacology, imaging and sterilization among others. Nurses do not have to certify in order to work in a cardiovascular catheterization lab, but certified nurses are highly sought after by employers.
Cardiac Cath Lab Nurse Salary and Career Outlook
The career outlook for a cardiac cath lab nurse is bright and projected to grow and a very good rate through the year 2018 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The salary for a certified cardiac cath lab nurse is around $87,000 on average across the nation. The salary for a cardiac cath lab nurse is equal to the salary of many advanced practice nursing specialties.