I’ve worked as a Cathlab RN for more than 5 years. Truly, it’s one great nursing specialty, specially if you can experience to assist both on Cardiology and Radiology procedures. You’ll learn in every procedure you assist. Expect the unexpected, and you have to learn to work under stress as patient’s response to procedure is unpredictable.
I agree with matt and CCL_RN. In our hospital, nurses are either circulating nurses, scrub nurses or Cathlab Tech. We are trained to do all such positions, and are rotated on a weekly basis.
As a new Cathlab RN, it would be helpful if you have good understanding of the Cardiovascular System – specifically coronary arteries, heart valves, hemodynamics and EKG. With months of experience, you’ll develop that “clinical eye”, wherein you can easily distinguish the arteries, which part is stenosed and what sizes of balloons or stents will be deployed. This is helpful particularly if your doctors are open to suggestions of nurses.
It’s also important that you know how to protect yourself from large amount of radiation. Some hospitals conduct Radiation Safety Seminar for cathlab associates. Be reminded with TDS principle, Time-Distance-Shielding.
When it comes to medications and supplies, be familiar with your E-cart. It would be easier for you to respond in emergency cases if you know where the supplies/equipments are. Be involved in your department’s inventory, that can help you. Mostly used drugs are the ff: inotropics (Dopamine, Dobutamine, Levophed), calcium channel blockers, anti-anginal, diuretics, nitrates, magnesium sulfate, calcium gluconate, sodium bicarbonate, and sedatives. Be friends with the different types of catheters, stents, balloons, and wires as well.
On-call work is also stressful. Despite that, I find it rewarding specially when your team successfully revived a patient after heart attack, giving him a new life … with a new heart.
High level of maturity is a must for a Cathlab RN. I believe that it’s a great experience wherein you’ll be able to perform mixed nursing specialties – critical care nursing, med-surg nursing, emergency nursing, out-patient nursing (for some benign cases), and a lot more.
Best of luck on your career as a Cathlab RN!!!