Welcome to the team

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The following is a letter to those professionals who are just beginning their careers in the cardiac catheterization laboratory.

It is two o’clock in the morning when your pager goes off. The sound of this obnoxious device awakens you from warmth of your bed. You fight the darkness, trying to put your thoughts together to partake in the normally simple task of dialing the phone. The hospital operator informs you that there is an acute MI in the ER that the cardiologist wants to cath emergently. As your heart races from the adrenaline that starts circulating and from being suddenly awakened, you manage to get dressed, get into your car, and drive yourself to the hospital within 30 minutes. As you enter the cath lab area, your teammates have arrived and you all start gathering information on the person you are about to meet and potentially save from death.

The doctor is waiting with the patient at the cath lab door, with the emergency room staff performing CPR and ACLS. The patient is cold, clammy, intubated, and has urinated all over himself. After transferring the patient to the table, prepping his groin, and getting him draped for the procedure, you and the cardiologist work together to effectively treat this patient. You find that he has an occluded left anterior descending artery and after stenting the artery, the patient’s EKG and blood pressure begin to return to normal, as does his skin color.

The cardiologist proceeds to do some touch-up work on the culprit vessel and eventually the procedure comes to an end. After transferring the patient off the procedure table and on to a stretcher, you make every effort to comfort the patient you know a smile and a warm blanket go a long way. He cannot speak because the intubation tube is blocking his throat, but you can see in his eyes that he is scared and also grateful for your help. This is when you realize that what you do makes a difference, and it is because of times like this that you take pride in your ability to help people in extreme need with your expertise.

I would like to congratulate you on choosing a career in the cardiac catheterization lab. I can assure you that this career will be incredibly exhilarating and rewarding. The direct effect that you have on your patient’s lives will be tremendous and the experiences that you will have as you progress through this profession will be everlasting. Look to those with experience for their wisdom and remember that success is built on positive attitudes and great communication.

Scott G. Burgess, RCIS
Cardiovascular Imaging Manager
Providence St. Peter Hospital
Olympia, Washington
Scott.Burgess@providence.org

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