New grad cath lab?

Specialties Critical


Can a new grad go directly to the cath lab? Or do you need ICU experience first?

Specializes in RETIRED Cath Lab/Cardiology/Radiology.

Most cath labs prefer ICU or ER experience.  There's a lot to learn in the cath lab, which must be built on a firm foundation of knowledge and skills obtained in either of those areas.  I do know of one RN who was hired in cath lab as a new grad, however she was known to the staff, had done some special studies in the cath lab. 

Specializes in Advanced Practice, Critical Care.

ICU experience is VERY helpful in the cath lab. Skills acquired in ICU, such as expertise with hemodynamics, ECG recognition and interpretation, line insertion, and resuscitation skills form a great foundation. The pace and stress level of the cath lab is different from the ICU. When things go sideways in the cath lab it happens very quickly to a patient you know very little about. The physician at the table is freaking out and you have to know your role, work as a team, and be able to act quickly.

This is in contrast to the ICU or other units where you get a handoff, have more time to get to know the history of the patient, and have 12 hours to look at deterioration trends. ICU is stressful, but the pace in the cath lab is so fast that you really need to be on your game all the time.

I spent 12 years in the cath lab and I learned so much. But I am grateful that I had a solid foundation of knowledge and experience in ICU and CCU to draw from and build upon. I could not imagine going into the cath lab as a new grad. It would be overwhelming. If you were coming from the OR, that might be a different story, but cath lab is so very different from what students are exposed to during their clinics for school. There is a difference between being a technician (task oriented) and being able to critically think and anticipate the needs of the patient and the team (I know, that could be applied in so many areas). Remember, you might be the only RN on call some night with a Rad Tech and a CVT tech when all hell breaks loose.

Specializes in Critical Care, Capacity/Bed Management.

I am all about new grads entering specialties such as labor and delivery, critical care, and emergency care; but new grads do not belong in the cardiac cath lab or interventional radiology suite. 

As the previous poster mentioned the cardiac cath lab draws heavily on the foundations of critical care and adds the component of moderate sedation/circulator/scrub. You know very little about your patient (basic labs, an echo report, a stress test, and an H&P). Patients can decompensate in a matter of seconds, requiring immediate intervention (administering atropine, shocking a lethal arrhythmia, mixing and hanging pressors, etc). It is usually recommended nurses have 2-3 years of critical/emergency care experience before making the transition. 

Specializes in ICU, Trauma, CCT,Emergency, Flight, OR Nursing.

I've never heard of new grads even being offered positions in Cath Lab/ IR labs. A New grad will struggle to nurse the med/surg patients initially alone on the floor ; it is beyond thought that one could enter the Interventional platform with essentially No nursing experience , no ICU experience and no interventional experience and be able to survive. As someone who works in Neurosurgery OR (after many years Flying on helicopters, ICUs, ERs) I know 100% that the learning curve would be extreme and place a ton of pressure on the nurse preceptor . I will also add that interventionalists have very little patience and can be very irritable to work with if you don't know what you are doing. A new grad does NOT need that type of stress as you do not learn under that type of stress. Def get into med/surg or an ICU new grad program and get experience and then explore your options. Best of luck.

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