When you go into the field of nursing, you quickly discover not all nursing fields are the same. All nurses need to have basic knowledge and skills such as how to insert an IV or how to administer life-saving techniques when a patient’s heart stops beating.
Even beyond the basics of nursing, nurses can specialize in fields that make them valuable assets in the medical community. In particular, a cath lab nurse plays a critical role in patient care.
But what is a cath lab nurse, you may ask. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about cath lab nurses and their importance in the medical community.
What Is a Cath Lab Nurse?
Individuals who go into cath lab nursing find a rewarding career. This nurse will assist caregivers with the catheter lab procedures. They also monitor patients during their time in the hospital.
Cardiac catheterization is a non-invasive procedure that diagnoses heart function. The individual who enjoys detail-oriented work that works closely with doctors enjoys their position as a cath lab nurse.
Cath Lab RN Job Description
Cath lab nurses work in a variety of settings including specialized cardiac catheterization labs, hospitals, outpatient care centers, and private clinics. Cath lab patients are often individuals who need emergency care, coming straight from the emergency room with a cardiac event.
When a patient comes into the hospital with a cardiac event, they often must first go to the cardiac cath lab. In this lab, a doctor will perform a procedure that allows the doctor to see the condition of the patient’s heart. They can clearly see if there is a blockage in arteries and the condition of the heart in general.
A cath lab nurse will assist the doctor in the cath lab. While the doctor has a critical job, the patient will remember the cath lab nurse because that nurse is with the patient before, during, and after the procedure. The nurse stays with their patients through every step of the procedure and even offer after-care instructions and expertise once the procedure has finished.
To be a good cath lab nurse, you must understand your role in keeping your patient calm and at peace during a time that could easily frighten the patient.
Cath Lab License, Education, and Certification
To be a cath lab nurse, you must first earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. This four-year program includes classroom time and clinic time. Typically you will take courses on the following topics:
- Physiology and anatomy
- Community health
- Nursing leadership
- Health assessment
After you finish classroom time, you will spend time in clinics rotating through different specialties. These will include surgery, obstetrics, cardiology, family medicine, psychology, neurology, and internal medicine.
To work as a nurse, you will also need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. After passing this critical exam, you can work as an RN and gain valuable experience.
Once you’ve worked as an RN, you can take the necessary exam to receive Cardiac Medicine Certification. This certificate proves you’re ready to work with cardiac patients. You will also have to complete a satisfying number of contact-care hours with critically ill cardiac patients.
All of this certification and experience will qualify you to work in a cath lab. You will still have to go through the application and interview process for a cath lab job. As you prepare for this job, be prepared to answer these frequently asked questions:
- What skills and interests do you have that fit cath lab work?
- How do you handle emergencies?
- What are your career goals?
- What makes you experienced and qualified to work in this cath lab?
If you’re meant to work in a cath lab, then you’ll know the best answers to these questions. Just stay calm and remember all of the work you’ve done up until this point to reach this goal.
Cath Lab RN Job Duties
As you consider a cath lab job, you need to understand the answer to the question, “what does a cath lab nurse do?” The cath lab nurse job description includes things like “attention to detail” and “quick-thinking skills.” But there are specific skills you must have beyond these few things.
A cath lab nurse is responsible for the following tasks:
- Monitors vital signs
- Charts patient information
- Educates patients
- Examines patient before and after the cath lab procedure
- Evaluates patient sedation
- Monitors signs of infection
- Prepares patient for the procedure
- Assists doctor with the procedure
- Provides discharge information to patients
- Responds to emergencies in cath lab
The cath lab nurse has the critical job of educating patients about healthy heart living. It’s helpful if the cath lab nurse models such living as well.
Skills of a Cath Lab Nurse
Successful cath lab nurses have natural gifting. They can complete the tasks listed above because of this natural gifting. Here are some skills you can improve if you’re seeking a cath lab nurse career:
- Keep materials organized
- Pay attention to all environmental factors in the treatment room
- Focus on tackling one thing at a time
- Create priority lists
- Take frequent breaks to refocus
If you work on these skills before you receive your first cath lab job offer, you’ll be even more prepared for the rigors of this career. Successful cath lab nurses also understand that stress is a natural part of the job. There’s no better time than now to manage your stress to prepare for a stressful career.
Set time aside every day for meditation or yoga so you can destress and refocus. Engage in regular physical activity like going for walks outside and soaking in nature.
Finally, engage in positive social relationships. You will ultimately experience highly stressful environments at work, so you need to find the people that will help you relax and destress.
Practice and Prepare
Now that you can answer the question “what is a cath lab nurse?” you can begin to prepare for the career of a lifetime. Work on your organization and communication skills, practice destressing, and begin the process of gaining the career and experience needed for your dream job.
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