What do cath lab nurses do?

  1. I was wondering what are the duties and typical day of nurses who work in the cardiac cath lab. I've taken post-cath patients and understand the procedure itself, but what do nurses do who work in the cath lab?
    Do they work mostly day shifts? 8 or 12 hours? Do they take call for weekends/nights in case of emergencies? Are families allowed in the cath lab during the procedures?
    What skills are most important in this area?
  2. Visit RN34TX profile page

    About RN34TX

    Joined: May '04; Posts: 1,427; Likes: 374
    RN; from US
    Specialty: 17 year(s) of experience

    9 Comments

  3. by   Ventjock
    Quote from RN34TX
    I was wondering what are the duties and typical day of nurses who work in the cardiac cath lab. I've taken post-cath patients and understand the procedure itself, but what do nurses do who work in the cath lab?
    Do they work mostly day shifts? 8 or 12 hours? Do they take call for weekends/nights in case of emergencies? Are families allowed in the cath lab during the procedures?
    What skills are most important in this area?
    it all depends in which area of the country or which hospital
    where i work the nurses in the CL only circulate. they give meds and get supplies (such as guidewires, stents, etc.) they document they procedure, in other places (so ive heard) they can scrub in on the case and they can be the monitor also. (i assume these places allow techs to pass meds also). they usually work 8 hr shifts M-F and are on-call. here it is every 3rd week sunday thru saturday. families are not allowed.
  4. by   suzanne4
    Techs are not permitted to pass meds in any case..............only the registered nurse can pass the meds during a cardiac cath procedure in any facility. If it is an RN in the tech position that day, then yes they can pass the meds, but the person must have an RN after their name.
  5. by   cathlabtraveler
    Quote from RN34TX
    I was wondering what are the duties and typical day of nurses who work in the cardiac cath lab. I've taken post-cath patients and understand the procedure itself, but what do nurses do who work in the cath lab?
    Do they work mostly day shifts? 8 or 12 hours? Do they take call for weekends/nights in case of emergencies? Are families allowed in the cath lab during the procedures?
    What skills are most important in this area?
    shifts vary from 8-12 hrs. call usually depends on the size of the lab and number of nurses. ie, in a one lab cath lab with only 2 RN's on staff you will pull a ton of call. but in bigger labs with more staff call is less. in some states RT's can give meds. depending on the facility a nurse can monitor, circulate and/or scrub in cases. some areas the RN just monitors and gives meds. i'm on a travel assignment in arizona and only the RT can operate the xray equipment. but in other states a RN is allowed to perform this task. as far as skills go in the lab you should of course know dysrhythmias, cardiac anatomy and vasculature, cardiac and conscious sedation meds, and ACLS. over time you'll become familiar with the equipment used. in some labs the also do peripheral and cerebral arteriograms. anything else?

    Mark
  6. by   cathlabtraveler
    in some states techs can and do give meds, just fyi

    Mark
  7. by   RN34TX
    Thank you all for your replies. They were a great help for me in getting to know an area I know next to nothing about.
    I interviewed, met the staff, and sat in on 3 procedures to get an idea on what my job might be like. I really think that I might like it.
    But....the call thing. Each nurse takes at least 12 and up to 15 days of call per month. I expected some call like every other weekend or something but that seems like a heavy amount of time (I figure about half of your life at 15 days per month) that the hospital has access to call you in and pull you out of your life.
    Is this a normal thing that just goes with the territory for cath lab nurses or is this a more unusually heavy amount of call?
    The staff seemed great and willing to train but I'm still hesitant to be willing to keep my life on reserve for very menial call pay that many days per month.

    BTW, the techs here do everything except pass meds if they circulate, including the monitor but no one scrubs in here, the newer docs who are learning scrub in.
  8. by   cathlabtraveler
    with cathlab comes call. different labs have different amounts of call depending on the amount of staff. there are small labs where the nurse is on call 24/7 for 7days on then 7 off. larger labs are able to spread the call among more staff. a team has to be avail for the cath lab 24/7. that's just the nature of the beast.

    Mark
  9. by   CathRNCA
    Quote from RN34TX
    I was wondering what are the duties and typical day of nurses who work in the cardiac cath lab. I've taken post-cath patients and understand the procedure itself, but what do nurses do who work in the cath lab?
    Do they work mostly day shifts? 8 or 12 hours? Do they take call for weekends/nights in case of emergencies? Are families allowed in the cath lab during the procedures?
    What skills are most important in this area?
    My lab has seen both ends of the spectrium. Last year during a staffing crunch I took call 12-15 days month, currently take 7-8. Remember with call it can go a month with no call back or come in every time for a week. Also our call means that anything not finished durng the day (ten hour shift) gets finished by the call crew.

    RN's circulate, monitor, and scrub here.
  10. by   Ventjock
    Quote from CathRNCA
    My lab has seen both ends of the spectrium. Last year during a staffing crunch I took call 12-15 days month, currently take 7-8. Remember with call it can go a month with no call back or come in every time for a week. Also our call means that anything not finished durng the day (ten hour shift) gets finished by the call crew.

    RN's circulate, monitor, and scrub here.
    thats great b/c only the techs scrub and monitor at my hospital. the RN's only circulate. its good that everyone can do everything and it makes everyone equal in the team.
  11. by   cathmarm
    Quote from RN34TX
    I was wondering what are the duties and typical day of nurses who work in the cardiac cath lab. I've taken post-cath patients and understand the procedure itself, but what do nurses do who work in the cath lab?
    Do they work mostly day shifts? 8 or 12 hours? Do they take call for weekends/nights in case of emergencies? Are families allowed in the cath lab during the procedures?
    What skills are most important in this area?
    In regards to the demands for taking and responding to the "on call" status,... consider your family, your hobbies. I tell the nurses that apply for a job with us that call may be 12-15 days a month and that they need to discuss it with their spouse before making a commitment. I do not hire them until they have evaluated this with their families. A lot of the problems that we face are related to what the families expect from the nurse working these really crazy hours. The inconsistancy at which call back occurs requires a great deal of flexibility from that individual. All the nurses that quit within 1- 2 years, state it is a direct result from the call back issue.

    Good luck,

    JC

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