what is a cardiac cath lab nurse?

As a cardiac cath lab nurse, you provide nursing care to patients with heart conditions. You assist cardiologists and doctors during catheterisation and provide cardiac care during surgery. Aside from assisting patients who require catheters, you also prepare patients for surgical procedures. For instance, you examine cardiology patients to ensure they are in proper health for surgery and research their medical history to help the surgical team with preparation.

During a procedure, you help monitor the patient's vital signs. Post-surgery, you take care of patients in post-catheterisation recovery. You work in large hospitals and private clinics that handle heart surgeries. You work in cath labs, which are specialised laboratories where doctors use catheters to examine various parts of the heart. A catheter is a thin tube threaded through a vein or artery to check the blood flow through the heart. Cardiac catheterisation is used to diagnose illnesses or minor invasive procedures.

Working as a cardiac cath lab nurse requires extensive medical knowledge and experience in nursing care. You also need attention to detail to monitor the patient’s vital signs. Being physically fit eases the fatigue caused by working on your feet for long hours.

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average cardiac cath lab nurse salary

The average remuneration package of a cardiac cath lab nurse is $88,500 per year. When you are new in the role, you start with a salary of $82,000 per year. As you improve your experience and educational qualifications, your earnings gradually increase, and you can take home over $141,000 annually.

what factors affect the salary of a cardiac cath lab nurse?

The main determinant of your remuneration package is your work experience. When you have minimal work experience, you are likely to earn less than a cardiac cath lab nurse with extensive experience. Besides, cardiac cath lab nurses with extensive experience can perform some complex procedures, like coronary angiograms. Additional certifications or advanced qualifications in critical care and cath lab procedures also improve your earning potential.

Aside from work experience, the size of the hospital you work for also influences your earnings. Working in public sector hospitals attracts a lower salary compared to cardiac cath lab nurses working in private hospitals. Large clinics and hospitals have many resources and can afford to pay higher salaries compared to mining community health centres and smaller hospitals.

Want to know what you will earn as a cardiac cath lab nurse? Check out what you are worth with our salary checker.


types of cardiac cath lab nurses

As a cardiac cath lab nurse, you are familiar with diverse diagnostic tests done using cardiac catheterisation. For instance, you assist doctors in coronary angiogram tests to look for blocked arteries caused by heart diseases. The procedure also looks for narrowed arteries and assesses the severity of the blockage.

You also perform intravascular ultrasound (IVUS), where ultrasound is attached to a catheter to help a cardiologist examine inside arteries and measure narrowed and blocked vessels. In catheterisation labs, a fractional flow reserve test is used to measure the blood flow and pressure on both sides of a narrowed artery and check its extent or blockage.

women working in a hospital
women working in a hospital

working as a cardiac cath lab nurse

Cardiac cath lab nurses assist in catheterisation processes. If you are interested in this role, explore the duties, responsibilities, and work environments associated with it.


education and skills

If you want to become a cardiac cath lab nurse, start by becoming a registered nurse. Complete a bachelor's degree in nursing approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA), such as a bachelor of nursing or bachelor of nursing science. If you already have a degree, pursue a master's degree in nursing to gain the relevant knowledge. After the clinical placement, register with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency to start working as a registered nurse.

After a few years working as a registered nurse, pursue a postgraduate qualification in interventional cardiology or cardiac nursing. You should also consider courses in Advanced Life Support (ALS) and critical care.

cardiac cath lab nurse skills and competencies

Cardiac cath lab nurses require the following skills and qualities:

  • attention to detail: as a cardiac cath lab nurse, you evaluate patients before catheterisation, and it is important to be attentive to details to notice unexpected changes or symptoms. Attention to detail also involves keeping patient records organised or paying attention to environmental factors in treatment rooms.
  • critical thinking skills: as a cardiac cath lab nurse, you rely on your critical thinking skills to make good judgement calls and decisions in patient care. For instance, if a patient's vital signs change during catheterisation, you discuss the changes with the cardiologist to ensure patient safety.
  • stress management: as a cardiac cath lab nurse, you work in stressful situations, especially during emergencies and complicated medical procedures. Having stress management skills helps you decompress and maintain calm under pressure. Some stress management skills you should practise include meditation and social interaction.
  • communication skills: as a cardiac cath lab nurse, you explain pre-operation procedures to patients, and it is important to communicate clearly. Having good communication skills helps you build trust and relationships with patients and doctors.
  • listening skills: as a cardiac cath lab nurse, you need good listening skills to understand instructions from doctors and other health professionals. Active listening skills help you receive important information from patients.

FAQs about working as a cardiac cath lab nurse

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a cardiac cath lab nurse.

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