What is a Cardiac Cath Lab Nurse?

A cardiac cath lab nurse specializes in operations requiring a catheter insertion into a patient’s heart or significant vessel.

These specialists assist with medical procedures involving heart operations.

For instance, they treat patients with heart disease or cardiovascular issues.

What Do Cardiac Cath Lab Nurses Do?

Cardiac cath lab nurses perform numerous duties to support medical staff and ensure patients receive adequate care.

These nurses assist doctors and physicians who perform heart operations.

Cardiac cath lab nurses use catheters and diagnostic imaging technology to check a patient’s heart’s health.

It enables them to determine whether or not a patient requires surgery or specialized medical care for their condition.

This technology also allows physicians to identify the cause of a patient’s heart condition.

As a result, they can determine the best healthcare procedure to resolve the patient’s heart/cardiovascular problems.

In addition to assisting with heart operations, cardiac cath lab nurses check their patient’s medical records.

They’ll discuss medical procedures with the patient and address any questions or concerns the patient may have.

They’ll also prep the operating room and medical equipment and administer medications pre and post-surgery.

The medications they provide relax patients to prepare them for operations and various other cath lab duties.

During operations, cardiac cath lab nurses assist doctors and physicians with inserting catheters.

In addition, these specialists open arteries with balloon pumps, insert stints, monitor vital signs, and assist with inserting implants such as ICDs (defibrillators) and pacemakers.

Cardiac Cath Lab Nurse Duties:

  • Educate patients about procedures
  • Provide emotional support
  • Monitor patients throughout their procedures
  • Evaluate and track the patient’s recovery
  • Update paperwork and medical records
  • Administer medications
  • Support the medical team
  • Assist physicians with procedures
  • Manage catheters and diagnostic equipment
  • Provide further instruction before discharging patients

Where Do Cardiac Cath Lab Nurses Work?

Cardiac cath lab nurses work in various surgical and emergency care settings to care for patients with heart complications.

It includes emergency rooms, transplant rooms, ICU, operating rooms, and other fields related to heart surgery or care.

Occupational Settings:

  • Hospitals
  • Emergency departments
  • Transplant centers
  • Intensive care units
  • Operating rooms
  • Outpatient care facilities
  • Independent cardiac centers
  • Private clinics

A cardiac cath lab nurse’s duties may vary moderately depending on their department.

However, most nurses assist physicians and healthcare staff with procedures requiring cardiac cath lab services.

These registered nurses generally work 10 – 12 hour shifts, like other hospital and emergency care nurses.

Necessary Skills

Heart operations are often complex and risky procedures that require extensive expertise.

As a result, cardiac cath lab nurses are highly trained and specialized.

They often have years of training and post-graduate education before they are permitted to work as cardiac cath lab nurses.

In almost all cases, these nurses work with a team of other medical professionals to patients they receive the best medical care possible before, during, and after their operation.

Cardiac cath lab nurses work alongside RNs, practitioners, physicians, doctors, and anesthesiologists.

It enables them to provide all-around care to the patient requiring medical attention.

Cardiac Cath Lab Nurse Salary

The average salary for cardiac cath lab nurses in the United States is roughly $83,302 per year, based on Salary.com.

Nevertheless, compensation significantly differs between the bottom 10% and the top 10% of earners.

The bottom 10% of earners make roughly $67445 annually, while the top 10% earn about $99,732.

The factors affecting a cardiac cath lab nurse’s income include location, experience, employer, credentials, and skills.

Even more, a cardiac cath lab nurse’s state of employment greatly affects how much they earn.

Income differences can exceed 30k annually between the highest and lowest-paying states!

How to Become a Cardiac Cath Lab Nurse

Becoming a cardiac cath lab nurse requires the proper training, experience, and certification.

Accordingly, this section covers the various steps registered nurses must take to obtain careers in this domain.

It includes joining a nursing program, completing nursing school, passing the NCLEX-RN, gaining career experience, and taking the certification exam.

1. Join a Nursing Program

The first step to becoming a cardiac cath lab nurse is to join a nursing program.

Joining a nursing program requires first completing the nursing school prerequisites.

Students can complete the prerequisite course at a qualified college or university.

It takes about 1 – 2 years to complete the prerequisites, depending on the student’s prior education.

Aspiring nursing students must also maintain an acceptable GPA due to competition and academic requirements.

Some candidates may apply to multiple nursing schools to maximize their acceptance odds.

2. Complete Nursing School

Most nursing schools offer students a two-year ADN or four-year BSN degree.

The two-year degree enables students to enter healthcare and earn a living quickly.

Nevertheless, this program’s training isn’t as competitive as the four-year BSN.

Students pursuing a cardiac cath lab nursing career will want to obtain their BSN.

3. Pass the NCLEX-RN exam

At the end of the program, students must pass the NCLEX-RN exam to obtain licensure and work as registered nurses.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) administers the NCLEX-RN exam.

It ensures students have adequate training and education to act as competent registered nurses.

Students who fail the exam may retake it several times after a certain period to obtain their licensure.

4. Gain Career Experience

Aspiring cardiac cath lab nurses must obtain sufficient career experience to take the certification exam.

It requires them to acquire two years of work experience with a minimum of 2,000 clinical hours in cardiac-vascular nursing.

They must also complete 30 hours of CEUs related to cardiac-vascular nursing to take the CV-BC exam.

The minimum clinical hours and continuing education units must be achieved within three years.

5. Obtain Certification

After acquiring sufficient experience, registered nurses may take the Cardiac Vascular Nursing Certification (CV-BC).

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) developed the exam to test a registered nurse’s competencies.

As a result, it ensures they have adequate training, knowledge, and skills to perform successfully as cardiac cath lab nurses.

This certification also demonstrates that a registered nurse is credentialed as a cardiac vascular nurse – board certified.

It indicates to healthcare facilities that the cardiac cath lab nurse is qualified to provide adequate patient care.

In addition, certified specialists can manage additional responsibilities and earn higher incomes due to their training.