As a Cardiac Cath Lab (CCL) Travel Nurse, you’ll join a very specialized field of medicine that can be both rewarding and demanding. Cardiac catheterization is the insertion of a catheter into a chamber or vessel of the heart. It can be used as a way to diagnose heart conditions, or as treatment. Cardiac Cath Lab Travel Nurses assist doctors performing these procedures. However, as a CCL nurse you can also specialize even further in coronary catherization—procedures that involve coronary arteries, and take place in state of the art labs. In this specialty, you’ll have the opportunity to work with the latest technology in cardiac care.
The responsibilities of a Cardiac Cath Lab travel nurse begins before a procedure and may include educating the patient about the procedure, checking vital signs and administering intravenous medication. During a procedure, nurses may operate medical equipment, such as a ventilator, which helps a person breathe, monitor a patient’s blood pressure and oxygen level and assist the physician as needed.
Like any other nursing specialty, to become a CCL nurse you must graduate with either an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited nursing school. You must also pass your licensing exam to become a registered nurse. Once you accomplish this, the real learning begins. This is because Cath lab nursing is not a specialty where new graduates usually work. Most healthcare facilities prefer to hire a nurse who has experience working in a cardiac care or intensive care unit. Nurses will need to have knowledge of cardiac medications and electrocardiogram monitoring experience. Most facilities also require cath lab nurses to become certified in advanced cardiac life support. After gaining experience, nurses may take an exam in order to earn cardiac vascular nursing certification offered through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Certification has to be renewed every five years.
Although many procedures performed in a cath lab are scheduled during daytime hours, emergencies happen that require Cardiac Cath Lab nurses to be available around the clock. Employment opportunities for CCL nurses can be found in private clinics, hospitals and cardiac catheterization labs. As with most specialties in nursing, salaries will vary depending on years of experience, credentials and geographic area. The average salary for a Cardiac Cath Lab nurse in 2013 was between $65,000 and $83,000 a year according to a survey completed by Springboard Inc.