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A cardiac lab tech, or cath lab tech, is a person who is trained to assist medical professionals in the diagnosis and treatment of patients who have, or are suspected of having, conditions related to the cardiovascular system. Typically, a person in this position works in a cardiac catheterization lab, assisting cardiologists or those in charge of diagnostic imaging. A person in this field may also assist a head technologist. The exact duties a person in this field may perform depend on the needs of his employer, but they may range from ensuring patient comfort during procedures, such as heart catheterizations, to monitoring patient vital signs.
Cath lab techs typically work under the supervision of another medical professional, and they may be called on to perform a range of duties. An individual with this title may be responsible for preparing patients for procedures, which may include making sure they are reasonably comfortable; cleaning and shaving the area in which a heart catheter will be inserted; and monitoring vital signs, such as blood pressure. Often, a person in this field is responsible for assisting with both invasive and non-invasive procedures. In some cases, a cath lab tech may even administer some forms of anesthesia or assist with the implanting of pacemakers.
A cath lab tech is usually trained to recognize signs of trouble in patients and provide emergency care when needed. For example, a person with this title has usually been trained to use emergency equipment to resuscitate patients. Sometimes a cath lab tech will also assist nurses with caring for patients after procedures. For example, a person with this job may help a head nurse with necessary tasks for patients who have been placed in recovery rooms after cath lab procedures.
The requirements a person has to meet to become a cath lab tech may depend on where he wants to work and the preferences of his prospective employer. Typically, however, a person who wants to pursue this career has to start out by graduating from high school or earning a general educational development (GED) diploma. In many cases, employers may prefer to hire job candidates who have earned associate’s degrees in a related major. Some employers may also prefer those who have earned related certification. In fact, there may be some employers who will only hire individuals who have earned certification, and there are some jurisdictions in which cath lab techs are required to seek licensing.
@JaneAir - I know my local community college offers a cardiology technician program. However, the skills that are taught in that program sound a lot more advances than the cath lab tech job description.
The cardiology tech program teaches the student how to actually perform tests, such as EKG's and Holter monitoring. It sounds like the cath lab tech mostly just assists, and doesn't do too much on their own.
I'm always amazed at how many different jobs are available in the same branch of the medical field. I personally don't know how anyone who works in that field can keep the duties of all their coworkers straight!
Where I live most of the "tech" jobs require a the person the have their CNA. This makes a lot of sense, as a certified nursing assistant is training to perform a lot of simple nursing functions.
CNA's are trained to take vital signs, perform CPR and assist the RN's. All of these skills are required for the cath lab tech job as well.
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