Nurse Types / Cath Lab Nurse
Cath labs use imaging equipment designed to examine the heart’s arteries to ensure there is adequate blood flow to and from the heart. A cath lab nurse’s role is to help assists doctors and provides care to cardiac patients during the post-catheterization recovery period.
In this article we will explore:
- What do cath lab nurses do?
- Steps to becoming a cath lab nurse
- Cath lab nursing FAQs
- Where can cath lab nurses work?
- What is the average cath lab nurse salary?
What do cath lab nurses do?
Cath lab nurses are a vital part of the cath lab care team. Their primary role is to assist cardiologists during the catheterization procedure. A cath lab nurse assists doctors and provides care to cardiac patients during the post-catheterization recovery period.
They examine patients before the procedure and monitor their vitals throughout the entire process. Responsibilities of cath lab nurses include:
- Ensuring consent paperwork for the patient is completed and filed in the patient’s chart
- Preparing patients for the procedure, which can include sterilization and shaving areas where the catheter will be inserted
- Monitoring sedation levels during and after catheterizations to ensure a patient is not experiencing an adverse reaction
- Assisting in interventional procedures such as balloon angioplasty, stent placement, and rotation
- Monitoring patients for signs of infections or side effects following the catheterization
- Delivering discharge paperwork and instructions to patients and families that include details on medications, activities, and dietary restrictions following the procedure
- Updating patient charts with specific information about the procedure
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Steps to becoming a cardiac cath lab nurse
Acquiring the necessary education and experience is the first step for anyone who is interested in working in a cardiac cath lab.
The first step is to become a registered nurse (RN) by pursuing an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited nursing program. Candidates also must pass the NCLEX-RN.
2. Gaining experience and connections
Once candidates become RNs, then they must gain experience in either a trauma hospital or cardiac care center. While working in these positions, RNs should network with cardiologists and cardiac intensivists. It will be these relationships that pave the way for a smooth transition into the cardiac cath lab.
In addition to earning an RN degree, cardiac cath lab nurses are expected to earn Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certifications.
While not required, cardiac cath lab nurses are urged to consider obtaining Cardiac Vascular Nursing Certification. RNs can earn this certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). To qualify for the certification, RNs must:
- Hold a current RN license in any U.S. state or territory
- Have a minimum of 2 years of experience as an RN
- Have a minimum of 2,000 clinical practice hours in cardiac-vascular nursing in the last 3 years
- Have completed 30 hours of CEU for cardiac-vascular nursing within the last 3 years
Cath lab nurses also may wish to consider earning a Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) certification. It is administered by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). There are requirements RNs must meet before applying for CCRN certification.
However, to qualify for this certificate, you must have practiced as an RN or APRN for 5 years with a minimum of 2,000 hours in the direct care of acute or critically ill adult patients. 144 of those hours must have been worked in the most recent year
Hospitals and cardiac care facilities may require additional certifications. It is an important question to ask when applying for cath lab nursing positions to ensure you meet all requirements.
4. Keeping your CEUs up to date
Cath lab nurses must also complete continuing education units (CEUs) to maintain their licensure in certain states. All but 13 states require cath lab nurses to earn continuing education credits or contact hours every 2 years. Contact hours and CEUs that focus on cardiac care are essential for renewing licensure.
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Cath lab nursing FAQs
Cath lab nurses work in hospitals and independent cardiac care centers where catheterizations are performed. Like other nurses, they can expect to work shifts ranging between 8 and 10 hours for cardiac care centers and typical 12-hour shifts for hospital cath labs.
The average salary for a cardiac cath lab nurse is $96,079, according to our data from Incredible Health.
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