Need info re: SICU > Cath Lab

  1. I posted this question in the Cardiac Nursing forum but no one answered it so I'm posting it again here.

    I work in a Surgical/CV ICU and have been offered a position in our hospital's Cath Lab. The hours and call schedule are fine, and I like most of the docs I'll be working with.

    Can anyone give me any insight as to the working conditions? I know there's a big difference between the two areas, and I've never done Cath Lab before, although I've taken care of plenty of their patients!

    I appreciate anything you guys and gals can throw my way. I've talked them into letting me do a shift in there before I decide, so that'll be helpful too...

    Thanks!!
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   Jenny P
    A lot of nurses go to the cath lab from SICUs and CV-ICUs. I haven't done it and don't know what it is like; but if it is a good cath lab with good people, the nurses who go there don't return to the ICUs, so that must say something about it.

    From what I do understand; the hours are better (most of the time) but the weekend call can be challenging; and cath lab can be very intense when things go bad. And the lead aprons can get to be heavy after a long shift.

    Sorry I can't help you more than that, but at least you have an answer of some sort.

    Good luck in whatever you choose.
    Last edit by Jenny P on Apr 13, '02
  4. by   VickyRN
    Don't know a whole lot about it, but hours are great--also, opportunity to learn some new skills, such as OR scrubbing, circulating. You will eventually become an EXPERT on spotting coronary arteries on the screen. May want to start studying coronary artery anatomy now--RCA, LAD, CX, etc.
    Review ACLS, defibrillation skills--need to become second nature.
    One downside (this is a "biggie" for me--wouldn't want to go to cath lab for this reason...) LOTS of exposure to radiation. The lead aprons won't shield all of your body, such as your brain. All those EMF's are bound to have bad cumulative effects.
  5. by   mattsmom81
    I never enjoyed going to cath lab ( I would get called down for an IABP or to assist with a very unstable patient).

    Very intense, the cardiologists get their surgeon attitude..hehe.
    The techs at my hospital didn't like the nurses in their lab, and I hated those heavy lead aprons....my back and neck hurt just remembering .

    But hey we're all different....why not ask for an orientation day and see how it goes? You may love it, and it might just be a nice change for you. Some of my coworkers float to cath lab on occasion and like the variety.
  6. by   CEN35
    well i have not personally worked in the cath lab. however, i knew a few people that worked over there before, and they really liked it.

    in our hospital system, you get 3 months of training after they hire you. they claim their on call time is not that bad either. except i hear they end up working like 60 hours a week! that is not for me! if i want or need to work 60 hours, that's one thing. i wouldn't want to have to do it regularly.

    me


  7. by   AlabamAlum
    I did CVICU and CCUs for years and went to Cath Lab and loved it.

    I already had a good rapport with the docs so it was easier on me.

    You need strong hands for holding pressure (after the sheath is pulled).
  8. by   st4304
    Hey, Kimberly!

    I did reply to your post under Cardiac Nursing so you might want to check it out.

    I just wanted to add something about the comments regarding the exposure to x-ray. Today's x-ray cameras are so sophisticated that one is exposed to such low dosage. We wear lead aprons and lead throat collars to protect our innards and thyroid, but x-ray cannot penetrate bone so your skull protects your brain. Our eyes are exposed but we wear lead glasses (supposedly it makes us susceptable to cataracts in later years if we don't wear them). Also, we have lead screens and aprons that we place between the camera and ourselves to further protect . . . ourselves. AND, the radiation gets weaker the further from the camera so if I stand at least 6 feet from the camera, I am not being exposed at all and would not even have to wear lead. So-o-o-o-o, I always stand at least 6 ft away from the camera, always wear lead in the room, the docs are great about not fluoro-ing or acquiring while we are near the patient (even though sometimes it's not possible for them to not), and wear a badge that is sent to a lab to monitor the amount of radiation to which I am exposed on a monthly and lifetime basis.

    We even have a female cardiologist who has gone through four pregnancies and cathed up until delivery on all. She is a trooper!!!

    Please let me know if you have any specific questions that I can answer (re: call, docs, staffing, etc) and I will answer what I can and find out what I can't!!!

    Even though I am leaving the cath lab soon, (read my reply to your post under Cardiac Nursing), I have been assured by my manager that I will always have a job waiting for me and I will be returning back to the cath lab if my new position doesn't work out for me.

    Let me know how I can help! :roll

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