If you’ve ever undergone a cardiac catheterization or angiogram, you were handled by a cath lab tech. These healthcare professionals assist in these medical procedures by ensuring the equipment functions properly, monitoring patients’ vital signs, and ensuring the environment is sterile. Cath lab techs aim to make the process seamless and stress-free for patients, making them especially valuable to any healthcare facility that performs these procedures. This blog post will answer common questions about cath lab techs, including what they do, how to become one, and what to expect once you’re working in the field.
What does a cath lab tech do?
Cath lab techs, or catheterization lab techs, assist cardiologists during invasive medical procedures. They prepare and operate diagnostic and therapeutic catheterization machines, oversee patient care, and inform other staff members. They also monitor patients’ vital signs, such as blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen saturation, ensuring patients are comfortable and safe. Since cath lab techs work with catheters and other invasive equipment, they require close attention to detail and knowledge of various procedures.
What is the education required to become a cath lab tech?
To become a cath lab tech, you need an associate degree in cardiovascular technology. However, many employers require a Bachelor’s degree in a health-related field. You can earn an associate degree in cardiovascular technology at a community college or trade school, and you will be trained in anatomy, physiology, and the basics of cardiovascular medicine. Additionally, you can receive on-the-job training to get hands-on experience and more specific knowledge.
What kind of skills does a cath lab tech need?
It would help if you had a few crucial skills to excel as a cath lab tech. You must be skilled in communication, particularly since you’ll need to interact with patients before and after the procedure. You should also have physiologic monitoring skills and be comfortable working with diagnostic or medical equipment. Being detail-oriented is handy in this field, as accuracy and precision are critical in a medical environment. Other necessary proficiencies include organizational skills, quick response capabilities, and working under pressure.
“What is the employment outlook for cath lab technicians?”
The job outlook for a cath lab tech is positive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projected a 7% job growth from 2018 to 2028 for cardiovascular technologists and technicians. A significant population is aging, and age-related heart disease has increased. That is why doctors are leaning towards stent implantation, balloon angioplasty, and other similar procedures, leading to the need for more experienced cath lab tech professionals.
Job demand: One of the significant advantages of becoming a cath lab technician is the job demand. Due to the increasing prevalence of heart diseases, there is an ever-present demand for skilled professionals. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the employment of cardiovascular technologists, including cath lab technicians, will grow 10% from 2016 to 2026.
Job satisfaction: Working as a cath lab technician can be highly rewarding and satisfying emotionally and financially. Technicians get to help patients receive life-saving treatments and procedures, which can provide a sense of purpose and job satisfaction.
Opportunity for Growth: A cath lab technician is an entry-level position in the cath lab. With adequate experience and further education, the department has multiple advancement opportunities. For instance, you can pursue advanced functions as a cardiac cath lab supervisor, lead tech, or even cardiac cath lab director.
Collaborative work: In a cath lab setting, the result of a technician is not carried out in isolation. Instead, you get to work closely with a multidisciplinary team of cardiologists, nurses, and other healthcare professionals, creating camaraderie and fostering personal and professional growth.
Exposure to Radiation: One of the significant disadvantages of being a cath lab technician is the exposure to ionizing radiation. Technicians often need to wear protective gear, but there is always a risk that they might be exposed to radiation over time, which can lead to adverse health effects.
Long Working Hours: Working as a cath lab technician often translates to long, erratic working hours. Technicians must always be on call, meaning they may have to work weekends, nights, and even holidays.
Emotionally Draining: As is the case with the healthcare industry, dealing with sick patients can be emotionally demanding. Technicians may have to bear witness to the pain and suffering of patients, which can take a toll on their mental and emotional well-being.
High-Pressure Environment: Working in the cath lab can often mean working in a highly stressful environment. Technicians have to assist physicians with invasive procedures, which carry the risk of complications such as bleeding and cardiac arrest. In such cases, it is essential to remain calm and vigilant, which can be mentally and emotionally taxing.
In conclusion, working as a cath lab technician can be a challenging yet rewarding career path. It is crucial to weigh the advantages and disadvantages to make an informed decision. While job demand, job satisfaction, and growth opportunities are some benefits, exposure to radiation, long working hours, emotional and mental strain, and a high-pressure environment are some downsides. Ultimately, the decision to pursue a career as a cath lab technician should be based on one’s passion and capabilities.