The Ten-Minute Interview with… Karen Tarvid, RT(R)(CV)
- 1 Jan 09
- Posted on: 12/23/08
- 0 Comments
I have worked as a traveling x-ray technologist for Cross Country TravCorps (Boca Raton, FL) since 1999. I have worked in Hawaii, California, Arizona, South Carolina, Nevada, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Florida. I have specialized in the cath lab, electrophysiology procedures (EP) and special procedures (interventional radiology).
Why did you choose to work in the invasive cardiology field?
I chose this field because it is challenging, with opportunities to grow as a professional, as well as the wonderful feeling I get when I am able to help the physician and the amazing high of helping someone to live. I have helped save a life!
This is such a diverse field. There is nothing like it and I enjoy all the opportunities that have come my way.
Can you describe your role in the cardiovascular lab?
I am a traveling x-ray technologist and most of my work is in the cath lab. I also work combo labs and special procedures.
What is the biggest challenge you see regarding your educational role?
Anytime I change assignments, the biggest challenge is to gain the confidence of the physician and the staff in my skills.
What motivates you to continue your involvement with the cath lab?
The cath lab holds the professional growth and challenge I desire. It has its reward in saving lives. It also has the biggest employment opportunity. I graduated and became an RT in 1985. Traveling keeps it fresh for me. It is interesting to see how different labs do the same thing.
What is the most unusual case you have ever been involved with?
With over twenty-something years in my profession, I don’t have to think too hard about this one. I have had funky patients with reverse anatomy and that makes it bizarre! Unique anomalies can include native vessels and grafts. The challenge is to get the best x-ray view, help the physician use the best catheter to engage the target vessel and get the best angiographic view possible.
When work gets stressful and you experience low moments (as we all do), what do you do to help keep your morale high?
Because I am a traveler, I can keep things light-hearted and use humor. I also am an experienced professional who can keep the stress level down in certain cases, because I have experience and can anticipate the needs of the patient and team. I don’t mind doing whatever is needed to help the patient, team and physician. In my off-time, I scuba dive and enjoy underwater photography. Also, due to the large amount of call I typically take… BlockBuster movies are my friend.
Are you involved with the Society of Invasive Cardiovascular Professionals (SICP) or any other cardiovascular societies?
Yes. I am member of the Emerald Coast Chapter SICP and a member of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT). I encourage everyone to become a member of their professional societies. It helps to have guidelines and you support the education of fellow members to achieve a higher professional standard. This ultimately leads to better patient care. The standards of the professional societies protect both the patient and the professional.
I am also on the Clinical Council of my traveling company, Cross Country TravCorps. I started working for them in October 1999. The Council answers questions related to x-ray, and formulates questionnaires and checklists for job skills. I help in-service the recruiter to understand the difference between the registered cardiovascular invasive specialist (RCIS), registered radiologic technologist, cardiovascular-interventional [RT(R)(CI)], registered radiologic technologist, cardiovascular [RT(R)(CV)] and cardiovascular technologists (CVTs).
Are there websites or texts that you would recommend to other cardiovascular labs?
SICP.com, ASRT.org, and Cath Lab Digest (www.cathlabdigest.com).
Do you remember participating in your first invasive procedure?
It was a nerve-wracking experience. I had worked in specials before working in the cath lab. I was familiar with balloons and catheters, but not with the heart specifically. My first case was a diagnostic and it was in the 80’s in California. Everything went fine.
If you could send a message back to yourself at the beginning of your cardiovascular career, what advice would you give?
I have always been more or less happy with everything. I always have asked questions. I did everything I wanted to do. I guess I would share the following with those who are now beginning or having their new experience: 1) Never assume; 2) Always ask questions; 3) Don’t put the Swan wire in the wrong port.
Where do you hope to be in your career when it is time to retire?
I’m there. I think maybe working an outpatient lab with no call right before I retire. Actually, my goal was to retire 10 years after I began traveling, but Hurricane Ivan (September 2004) and the economy changed everything. Hurricane Ivan left me homeless for three years and caused some financial stress. The economy? Well, we are all experiencing this together. Remember the economy also affects the job market and pay. Right now there are less travel jobs and less pay as demand becomes less.
Has anyone in particular been helpful to you in your growth as a cardiovascular professional?
Nurses. I learned a lot when I came to West Florida Hospital in Pensacola, FL. The nurses have taught me many things. You learn a little bit at every facility and you bring it along as you go to the next facility. A traveler especially has to remember there are 100 ways to do the same thing. The facility which has hired you is paying you to do the job their particular way.
Do you see yourself as a mentor?
Yes, I have become a confident mentor. I have trained my replacement in a couple of hospitals. I share the knowledge I have gained with my team.
Where do you think the invasive cardiovascular field is headed in the future?
It is wide open. I think we will be doing more cases in the cath lab. Stenting rather than open heart surgery will continue to become more prevalent, mainly due to a cost issue and the available technology. The field will keep expanding and we will see the amount of patients double in the next 5 to 10 years. I think interventional stenting in coordination with CT cardiac imaging will keep the cath labs very busy. n
Karen Tarvid can be contacted at email@example.com