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Cardiac Catheterization Lab Nursing

A cardiac catheterization lab nurse is commonly referred to as a cath lab nurse, and plays a critical role in diagnosing and treating heart conditions. These individuals are registered nurses who work in the specialization of heart disease and diagnosis. It is essential for nurses in this nursing occupation to stay up to date and current with the technology as it is always changing and advancing.

Duties of a Cardiac Catheterization Lab Nurse

The duties of a cardiac cath lab nurse vary depending on the patient. According to Johnson & Johnson, these nurses assist with procedures such as angioplasties, valvuloplasties, and stent placements. They also help physicians implant pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-difibillators (ICDs).

What Should I Expect from Working as a Cardiac Catheterization Lab Nurse?

A nurse pursuing this specialization should expect a challenging and fast-paced environment. Patients who enter may be facing life or death situations, such as a heart attack, and it may be necessary to act quickly in order to save them. In many cases, there may only be one nurse per catheterization lab. This means that nurses may be unable to leave the lab while they are attending to a patient. It also means that nurses who work in this area should be fairly autonomous and confident in their ability to administer any necessary treatments. According to KevinMD.com, nurses who work in a cath lab should also expect to work closely and collaborate with physicians on the proper diagnosis and treatment of patients.

Educational Requirements

An individual wishing to become a cardiac care nurse must complete an accredited RN program to earn a diploma, associate's degree, or bachelor's degree in nursing. Following graduation, he or she must pass the NCLEX-RN and become licensed to practice. According to Johnson & Johnson, one wishing to specialize can take the Cardiac Care Certification Exam to earn the Registered Nurse - Board Certified (RN-BC). This certification must be renewed every 5 years.

Average Salary

The salaries of cardiac catheterization lab nurses vary based on demographics, employer, and experience level. According to Indeed.com, the average salary for a cardiac catheterization lab nurse is $68,000. The employment outlook for registered nurses in general is excellent, and demand for those specialized in cardiac catheterization lab nursing is likely to be high due to increasing numbers of people suffering from heart disease and related conditions.

Additional Skills Needed

Knowledge and experience related to cardiovascular patients is a plus, but not required in order to begin working in a catheterization lab. Without such experience, it is unlikely for nurses to be able to work safely and effectively without supervision right away. Due to the critical condition of patients, nurses in these labs will need to respond quickly to situations and work well under pressure.

  • Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association: This links to an association that is dedicated to the prevention of cardiovascular disease. On this site, you will find information that includes clinical tools, journals, education, national initiatives and an option to join as a member.
  • American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation: This website provides you with information that ranges from certification and educational resources to upcoming events, publications and health and public policy.
  • American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: This site provides you with information on clinical practicing, certification and educational resources within the critical care subfield of nursing. This is especially relevant to cardiac catheterization lab nurses due to the fact that the patients in this field are almost always considered critical care patients.
  • American College of Cardiovascular Nurses: This links to the Marriott Heart Foundation. This foundation is the home of the Society of Cardiac Monitoring and the American College of Cardiovascular Nurses. On this site, you will find a wide range of educational information that is geared towards the cardiac specialization in nursing. This is especially beneficial to nurses who work in the cardiac catheterization lab.
  • CathLab Digest: This links to the official home page for CathLab Digest, which is an online publication that is dedicated towards providing information for cath lab specialists.
  • Registered Nurses: This links to the official entry for the Occupational Outlook Handbook as set forth by the United States Department of Labor through the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This set provides you with a wealth of information on the registered nursing career. This information ranges from a general overview of nurses to a more in-depth look into the specializations, educational requirements and reported wage information.
  • American Nurses Association: This links to the official site for the American Nurses Association. This association is the largest organization in the United States for nurses. On this site you will find a range of information such as career and credentialing, occupational and environment information, government affairs, health care policy and nursing ethics.  
  • Cardiovascular Advanced Practice Nursing: This is an informative link to one of the many available nursing programs at the master’s degree level. This link provides you with information on the program as a whole and the curriculum you are expected to complete.
  • Invasive Cardiovascular Technologist: This links to a program at the associate’s degree level that is offered at Sentara College of Health Sciences. This page provides you with information on the program, what to expect and the career overview.