Describe the role of a cath lab nurse

  1. I am interested in what the role of a nurse is in the cath lab? I have cardiac tele and ICU experience, only been a nurse for 2 years and would like to maybe work in the cath lab. Cardiac interest me the most than anything else, still learning, but the cath lab seems different than floor nursing and working in the icu. Can you give me insight on what to expect a day would be like, on days, nights, etc... thanks
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    About rn2bn07

    Joined: Jan '06; Posts: 183; Likes: 63
    Specialty: Cardiac Tele (1 year), new MICU RN


  3. by   jennt9
    I worked in a cardiac hospital in canada for just over two years and I can give you and idea of what it is like to work in the cath lab. First of all would recommend that you work in a CCU (coronary care unit) for a year or two to get some experience. I know i know, seems useless to go there if that's not where you want to be but the patients will code on the table and ACLS is not always followed depending on the interventionalist (doctor). You don't have time to think and if you don't know your stuff then you will be not only eaten alive by the nursing staff but also the physicians.
    I will share an example of a nurse that went into the cath lab two years out of school and ruined her career. A STEMI patient from the field came in and recieved 2 stents in his LAD and was to be send back up to CCU on SC enoxaparin (why the nurse would not question this when the patient still had sheaths in is beyond me). Well, she mis-interpreted the order and sent the patient up on an enoxaparin drip. I notified the physician immediately and filled out an incident report. The patient ended up with a bleed so bad that he required emergency surgery and nearly died. I am not telling you this to scare you but to recognize the instability of these patients and to understand the responsibility.
    Some people look at the cath lab as a way to get out of working nights and weekends but i must warn you that it is a VERY long 8 hour shift when you're wearing 10 pounds of leads and standing in one spot for hours on end. Also, if you are a female and are planning to get pregnant then the cath lab is not the place for you as you will be exposed to radiation.
    It is very quick paced and you do not have much of an opportunity to get to know your patients (sometimes not necessarily a bad thing!).
    Many hospital offer STEMI programs to the community which requires the physican and nurses to be on call during off hours. If you are called in on these times you are still responsible for being there for your scheduled shift. The nurses in the cath lab are amazing and work very hard. It is a very rewarding job and there is opportunity to learn. I too someday want to work in the cath lab but want to get more critical care experience so that I can be the best nurse that I can be for these patients (cheesy I know!)
    hope this helps,
  4. by   rn2bn07
    Thanks for your response, I really can get an idea of what the cath lab is like. I am interested because I love cardiac. I went from working on a cardiac tele floor to a very highly populated MICU with high acuity pt's. I wanted to work in the CCU unit but the other unit hired me first and now I don't regret it, because we get a little bit of everything. I think I'm ready for something different. I like change and cath lab seems interesting enough Thanks