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Cardiac Catheter Laboratory Nurse Overview

Career News October 19, 2013

Cardiac Catheter Laboratory Nursing

Cardiac catheter laboratory nursing requires an RN to work closely with doctors, assisting with a variety of heart-related procedures in a surgical setting. This specialty nursing career requires some advanced education, and both salary and job outlooks are expected to show continued growth in coming years, thanks to medical advancements and an aging population.


From angioplasties and pace makers to invasive diagnostic testing, many different procedures are performed in the cardiac catheter lab of a hospital or medical center. Cardiac catheter laboratory nurses are Registered Nurses who have completed additional coursework and have more hand’s on clinical experience.

A cardiac catheter lab nurse may assist in procedures, care for patients before, during or after cardiac procedures or perform a variety of support tasks in the operating room. The ability to manage multiple tasks at once, to perform regular nursing duties and expanded duties directly related to cardiac procedures and to handle the stress of emergency situations are important qualities for a cardiac catheter lab nurse.

Work Environment and Job Duties

Since most cardiac procedures are performed in traditional hospital settings, the Cardiac Catheter Lab nurse will primarily work in a hospital or large medical setting. Duties of a cardiac care nurse vary based on location and experience, but most cardiac catheter lab nurses will experience the following:

•Assisting with procedures in the cardiac catheter lab
•Caring for patients in Intensive Care or Recovery, before, during or after procedures
•Dealing with emergency situations and performing CPR or other lifesaving procedures if needed
•Caring for multiple patients each day
•Participate in patient education, research or other secondary duties

Requirements and Education

Cardiac Catheter Lab nurses are Registered Nurses (RNs) with additional training and education. A catheter lab nursing program generally requires a nurse to have at least a year of clinical hands on experience in one of several areas. While individual catheter lab nursing programs vary, most prefer that a nurse have experience in Intensive Care or Surgery before beginning training.

The amount of training needed by a cardiac catheter lab nurse varies by hospital and by geographic location. Most programs include both classroom and clinical, hands on components and allow nurses in training to get real experience in the field.

Salary and Career Outlook

As of 2010, salary for a cardiac catheter lab nurse varied depending on location and on the level of experience and training the individual had achieved. Most nurses earned in the $90,000 range, with nurses in large cities earning more than their small town counterparts. Cardiac catheter lab nurses in the Western US slightly out earned nurses in other areas.

Cardiac catheter laboratory nursing allows most nurses work a regular schedule, but hours will vary depending on the type of position. For a nurse that mainly assists in procedures, morning and daytime hours are the norm, but nursing is a 24 hour a day job, as patients require care at all hours.

Job outlook for all registered nurses is considered very good; specialty nurses should continue to see an increased demand for their services as the baby boomer population ages. With medical advancements and more aging and elderly patients, the need for qualified and specialty nurses is expected to increase by 25-30% in the next decade, according to the Board of Labor Statistics.

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