Becoming A Cardiac Catheterization Lab Nurse

What Is A Cardiac Catheterization Lab Nurse?

Cardiac catheterization lab nurses:

  • Have specialist knowledge related to the cardio system in the human body.
  • Have intimate knowledge regarding the treatment procedures for dealing with the various ailments that can affect that system.

Consequently it is seen as one of the more advanced nursing specialties that you could choose to pursue as you move forward with your healthcare career.

Nature Of The Work/Duties

The role of a cardiac cauterization nurse is a diverse one that carries with it a high degree of responsibility. Consequently this is a line of work that requires great expertise and years of training. The roles that a nurse with this specialty may perform include: providing care in a number of different settings, including Intensive Care Units, Cardiac Care Units or ICU, CCU or the Cardiac Catheterization Lab itself; ad ministering treatments necessary, including intravenous therapy when the patient needs this type of treatment (consequently earning your IV therapy certification can help you on your way to becoming a cardiac catheterization lab nurse); and following the instructions given by the patient’s doctor or physician in terms of administering medication. In addition the cardiac catheterization lab nurse is actively involved in educating the patient about his or her condition.Cardiac Catheterization Lab Nurse


When looking for employment in this sector the best three places for you to start looking are in however, Cardiac Catheterization Labs of hospitals, Intensive Care Units (ICUs), and Cardiac Care Units (CCUs). There are a number of things to keep in mind in terms of employment opportunities in this sector of nursing:

  • This is a fairly narrow field of nursing so you may find it a little difficult to get work.
  • However, because you first must undergo general RN training before you can become a cardiac catheterization lab nurse you will be able to additionally seek employment in areas of nursing that do not require you to have a specialty of any kind.

That being said, there are many specific cardiac catheterization lab nurse jobs available at the moment.

Cardiac Catheterization Lab Nurse Requirements

As with all other nursing specializations you will need to have an RN license that is not limited in any way and that is current and active in order to be a cardiac catheterization lab nurse. There are also a number of legally recognized equivalents for the RN license that can be obtained in other countries. If you hold one of these you can also become a cardiac catheterization lab nurse. In addition to that you will need to have worked as an RN for a period of no less than two years, you will need to have completed at least 2,000 hours of clinical practice in cardiovascular nursing within the last three years, and you must have must have 30 hours of continuing education (CE) in cardiac vascular nursing within the last three years.

Personality Traits

There are three main personality traits that are of pivotal importance in anyone who would like to become a cardiac catheterization lab nurse:

  • You need to be able to conduct yourself professionally at all times while remaining alert to any signs that something is not write in your patient’s health or demeanor.
  • You need to be able to make decisions based on very little information simply by observing your patient.
  • You will also be required to think on your feet and make life saving decisions on the spur of the moment when it is required of you.

An underlying personality trait here is ability and willingness to take control and responsibility for the well being and the lives of the patients in your care and to do what is necessary to help them.

Educational Requirements

The most basic educational requirement is that you must have a high school diploma or an equivalent thereof if you want to eventually become a cardiac catheterization lab nurse. This is because a high school diploma is necessary for entry into a training program. The training programs that you should focus on are those that will allow you to become an RN. These are usually degree programs that can take two to four years to complete. Comprehensive programs will include courses in anatomy, pharmacology, physiology, genetics, biochemistry, nutrition, diagnostic techniques, and other basic nursing techniques. The more advanced the degree is that you choose, the better placed you will be to become certified and to find the perfect job in cardiac catheterization nursing once you have graduated as a nurse with this specialization.


To be a cardiac catheterization lab nurse you need to have an RN license. An RN license is earned in the following way:

  • You will firstly need to enroll in and complete and accredited RN training program and a school or university.
  • Completing all of the course requirements will allow you to apply for licensure form your state board of nursing.
  • Note that there are different application rules between states, so be sure that you know what is expected of you in your particular state before you apply.
  • Once your eligibility is approved you will be able to set an exam date with Pearson VUE in order to take the NCLEX-RN examination.
  • Passing this examination will allow you to become licensed through your state board; they will send you your licensed by mail.

How To Become A Cardiac Catheterization Lab Nurse

Training, Advancement And Other Qualifications

As an RN you will need to engage in continuing education in order to maintain your RN license. This is the perfect opportunity for you to expand your knowledge in areas related to the cardio system. In addition you will be required to undergo an internship as a cardiac catheterization lab nurse so that you can gain the hands-on experience required in order to become properly certified in this line of work. The topics that you will need to focus on include the anatomy, physiology, diseases and treatments of the heart. This highly specialized knowledge simply cannot be adequately learned from a book and in clinicals and so an actual internship is required in order for you to become a cardiac catheterization lab nurse as you move forward with your nursing career.

Source An Accredited Education Program

Accredited RN training programs are an essential first step in achieving this specialization as you first need to become an RN before you can become a cardiac catheterization lab nurse. Accredited programs can be found by:

  • Visiting the website of your state board of nursing and viewing any lists that they may have of accredited schools; you can also make enquiries about specific schools that you are interested in.
  • Speak to friends who are currently employed as RNs as they must have gone through an accredited program to be where they are today and can therefore point you in the right direction.
  • The school itself will provide this information on its website, but this is not always the most reliable source of information regarding accreditation status and should therefore be double checked.

Earn Your Associate’s Degree

An associate’s degree is enough to get you started on your path to becoming a cardiac catheterization lab nurse. (Note: although this degree is sufficient you may find it easier to seek employment with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing). To earn this degree compile a list of the schools in your area that meet your basic requirements and that offer an associate’s degree in nursing program. Ensure that you have a full understanding of the application procedures for each of the schools in question and apply for them accordingly. You should apply for at least three different schools as this will increase your chances of acceptance. Choose a school from among those that accept you and complete all of the necessary course requirements. Graduating from the program will earn you your associate’s degree in nursing.

Obtain Your Licensure

Your RN license is not enough in order for you to work as a cardiac catheterization lab nurse. There is, in addition, a certification that you must obtain to be registered as a professional in this regard. Here is a summary of what this entails:

  • The Cardiac Credentialing International (CCI) certifies Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialists (RCIS), which is the title you will hold once you have become certified. CCI also places nurses on a registry list upon completion of the required examination. To get this certification you must have a high school diploma, provide proof that you completed an accredited nursing program, and provide proof of your work experience in a cath lab

Consequently it may take a fairly long time to gain this certification, but once you are there you will be able to reap the benefits.

Online/Distance Education Programs

There are a number of advantages to completing a program online, such as the flexibility of your schedule and the possibility of paying less in tuition fees. However you must remember that you need to complete both clinical training in your RN degree as well as internship in order to become a cardiac catheterization lab nurse. As a result it is essential that you attend an online program that is accredited and that makes provisions for you to do your hands-on training at real facilities. This is of paramount importance. Online schools with good reputations and which are either part of or affiliated to brick and mortar schools are always a better option over the more obscure online schools that you may come across when looking for somewhere through which to do your training.

Job Outlook

There are a number of reasons why the job outlook for nurses with this specialization is good:

  • The advancements being made in the technology used in this line of nursing means that the specialization certification counts for more and indicates an ever increasing degree of proficiency and skill.
  • Because you will also have trained as an RN before becoming a cardiac catheterization lab nurse, you will also be able to seek employment in areas of nursing not requiring a specialization.

In order to improve your career outlook further it is recommended that you complete continuing education credits that are in line with your chosen specialization in order to boost your resume and make you a more attractive candidate for nursing jobs in this particular area of the nursing industry.


Because of the high degree of skill and training involved cardiac catheterization lab nurses are paid extremely well. In fact they are eligible to earn in the region of $90,000 a year, which is 27% higher than the overall average salary for all other jobs across the country. The actual amount that you earn may vary depending on a number of factors. For example different states tend to pay different salaries to their nurses. In addition different cities, industries, and employers within the same state may also pay different rates to cardiac catheterization lab nurses. The amount of experience that you have will affect your salary as well as the benefits that you are eligible to receive, and in most cases you will be eligible to earn more money if you have a higher degree. In some cases your gender may affect how much you earn.

This is one of the most advanced nursing specializations that you could choose to pursue as a nurse as it requires a great many years of study and experience before it can be achieved. Being a cardiac catheterization lab nurse is not for everyone. The level of commitment and self-motivation required to complete all of the necessary steps calls for a very special kind of personality. If you have what it takes, however, this is the ideal line of work for you to try to get into as the salary as well as the many other benefits you will be eligible for a extremely good.

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