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How to Know if Catheter Lab Nursing is Right for You

Higher Education Articles October 19, 2013

Nursing in general is an admirable profession that can be very rewarding both spiritually and financially. The nursing occupation consists of many specialties and niches. Once a nurse discovers an area of nursing that he has a particular interest in, he can choose to focus on that area specifically. One area of specialty that nurses might consider is catheter lab nursing.

A catheter lab nurse is a highly trained and skilled nurse who helps doctors and technicians to perform angioplasties, cardiac catheterizations and valvuloplasties. These nurses also help doctors with the implanting of pacemakers and cardioverter-defibrillators. Catheter lab nursing is a highly demand career, and there are a number of characteristics that might make a nurse well suited to this specialty.

Training and Education

In addition to an associates degree in nursing and the required state nursing credentials, a catheter lab nurse needs a good deal of hands-on experience, usually at least a year of experience in cardiac intervention, intensive care, critical care or a catheter lab. They also need to take a certification exam in cardiac catheter nursing, which they would need to prepare for with specialized courses in a catheter lab nursing training program. Although these are the minimum requirements, there can be some variation by state or medical institution. Although an associate’s degree is sufficient, many catheter lab nurses have bachelor’s degrees.

Special Skills and Traits

Not every nurse has the skills and traits necessary to become a good catheter lab nurse. First off, this type of nurse works as part of a team, so they must have excellent teamwork and communication skills. A catheter lab nurse will also need to be able to counsel patients, and in some cases, help with research or teaching. Other standard nursing skills that are required for this position include meticulous record keeping skills, strong assessment skills, and the ability to work on-call. In addition, cardiac catheter nurses need to be ready to perform CPR or defibrillation at any moment, so being up to date and comfortable with those skills is a must.

Benefits

So why would anyone want to take a step beyond general nursing and become a catheter lab nurse? For starters, theirs is a monetary incentive. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for registered nurses in 2011 was $65,950. By contrast, one staffing firm (Springboard Healthcare Staffing) reported that the average salary for a catheter lab nurse was $76,793 per year. Because of the specialization, it is an occupation that is always in high demand. Beyond that, there is the satisfaction of being part of a team that saves and prolongs lives. People who need cardiac catheter care are often in need of extensive care and support and helping people in that condition is very rewarding.

Catheter lab nursing is a great option for many nurses who find themselves wanting to make a direct impact on people’s lives and work with a team of other dedicated health care professionals. While it is not for everybody, the monetary and non-monetary benefits are high, so nurses and nursing students who have the necessary skills, traits and dedication might want to consider it as a career path.

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