Are you a new nurse who’s interested in a career in the cath lab? Whether you’re an experienced nurse looking to expand your skills so you can take a travel position or just want to learn more about this specialty, read to see if the cath lab is where you want to work. If you do decide that it’s for you, visit our travel nurse jobs board to search open positions and then connect with a Triage recruiter.
What is the Cath Lab?
If you’ve never worked in a cath lab, you might be wondering exactly what it is. It actually stands for cardiac catheterization lab. In the cath lab, people undergo a number a cardiac procedures, including catheterization, angioplasties, recently implanted cardiac defibrillators, pressure studies, insert, remove or replace pacemakers, AV node ablation, rotablation, TEE cardioversion, thrombectomy and stent placement. These procedures don’t require a full operating room, but these nurses help with them and monitor patients afterwards.
In a normal workday, a cath lab nurse typically cares for patients on a 1:1 basis. They may scrub in and assist a physician with any of the procedures and then care for the patients afterwards by monitoring and helping with medications and supplies.
Cath lab nurses may specialize in electrophysiology or interventional radiology, if the hospital has those departments. IR nurses use ultrasounds, X-rays and other radiology equipment. In the IR, patients are typically not fully sedated because the patient needs to be able to communicate any changes in their condition or move as the physician performs these procedures. A nurse with EP experience helps circulate the room, administer drugs, monitors rhythms and helps with supplies.
Cath lab nurses may be floated to an IR or EP position, but only if they have experience in those positions.
Cath Lab RN Requirements?
Now you know what these nurses do, but how do you become a traveling cath lab RN? Of course, you’ll need a degree in nursing and then you’ll need to pass the NCLEX exam. Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to complete at least two years of experience working full-time in a cath lab. It’s likely that you’ll need to complete the Basic Life Support and Advanced Cardiac Life Support certifications. You will also likely be encouraged to complete the Cardiac Vascular Nursing certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
Listing Your Travel Cath Lab Nurse Resume Experience
When you’re looking for a position as a travel cath lab nurse (or any other travel position), you’ll need a resume. Lots of nurses wonder how they should list experience in their resume, especially since they go to up to four different facilities in a year. Rather than list each facility as its own job, many people list their specialty as their job, then list each facility with dates as a bullet point underneath the job. So if you’ve traveled to five different facilities, you can create your resume like this:
Cardiac Catheterization Lab Nurse (Dates)
- Facility 1, dates of assignment
- Facility 2, dates of assignment
- Facility 3, dates of assignment
- Facility 4, dates of assignment
- Facility 5, dates of assignment
Finding Cath Lab Nursing Jobs – United States
If you’re looking for a travel nurse cath lab job, you’re in luck. Triage currently has more than 100 jobs throughout the country for these nurses, though this can change at any time. If you’re looking for a travel nurse cath lab job, the best thing to do is to talk to a recruiter who can help you find one. Your recruiter will have a conversation with you and talk through what you’re looking for, including location, pay and everything else that comes along with finding a travel job.
If you’re a staff nurse looking to move into a position in the cath lab, you should first contact the cath lab department in your facility. If there’s an opening, you may have the chance to cross-train to learn some new skills in the lab. Remember, before you can travel as a cath lab RN, you’ll need at least two years of recent experience in this specialty. This is because these travelers don’t get much time in orientation and training and need to be able to hit the ground running when they step on the floor. When you’re dealing with sick patients who require a great deal of care, you’ll need to know how to handle these procedures and situations without help from other nurses.
Cardiac Cath Lab Nurse Salary Potential
How much does a travel cath lab tech nurse make? Like many other nursing specialties, the traveling cath lab tech annual salary depends on location and even the time of the year since census needs can change depending on time of year in some locations. Currently, weekly rates range from $1500-$4000 a week, meaning a cardiac cath lab nurse daily salary rate ranges a great deal.
If you work the full year without taking any breaks, a traveling cath lab tech annual salary ranges from $78,000 to over $200,000. For instance, a travel cath lab nurse salary in Texas can average well over $100,000 and over $150,000 in Montana. (Boring, obligatory disclaimer. These rates are current as of January 2023 and are always subject to change.) A travel cath lab nursing director salary could be even higher, but those jobs may be quite rare.
To find a travel nurse cath lab job, check out our travel nurse jobs board and chat with a recruiter today.