I began in the operating room back in 1983 as a surgical technologist. After working as surgical technologist for about seven years, I went back to school and became a registered nurse (RN). After a few more years, I went to school again and became a RN First Assistant (RNFA), and worked in all the specialties, including cardiovascular surgery. At that time the cardiovascular lab was short of nurses and my manager asked me to help. I was cross-trained in the OR and the cardiovascular lab.
Why did you choose to work in the invasive cardiology field?
I have always been a technical kind of person, so going to the cardiovascular lab was something I enjoyed doing.
Can you describe your role in the cardiac cath lab?
My role there is special. I work in a department that is equipped and set up to do multiple hybrid procedures (open heart, peripheral vascular, electrophysiology procedures, and cath lab procedures). At any given time I may be asked do any of the aforementioned procedures.
What is the biggest challenge you see regarding your role?
The biggest challenge is being able to keep up with the constant change, new drugs, and new procedures.
What motivates you to continue working in the cath lab?
In all the time I have spent in the cath lab, I have experienced a lot of change, and it has all been an excellent learning experience — that is the way of the future.
Can you describe an unusual case you’ve experienced?
During a permanent pacemaker placement, we had a patient with a subclavian anomaly. During the procedure, we found that the patient’s subclavian did not go across and connect to the superior vena cava (SVC); instead, the subclavian went down to each side of the heart and connected to the inferior vena cava (IVC). After our initial stick on the left side, we could not feed the wire through the needle or advance it. So we tried the right side and experienced the same problem. After several attempts, we came to the conclusion that there was an abnormality. At that time, we decided to inject some contrast and fluoro to visualize the abnormal anatomy, and then we were able to place the permanent pacemaker. The patient did well, but unfortunately came back with a hemothorax in the left chest. The patient was taken to the operating room a few days later to control the internal bleeding, again did well and was discharged. It was excellent experience, and since I float back and forth between cath lab and the CVOR, I was involved with this patient in both the cath lab and the CVOR.
When work gets stressful and you experience low moments (as we all do), what do you do to help keep your morale high?
I take one day at a time, focus on myself and focus on the positive things around me. Life is too precious to spend time on negative things.
Are you involved with the SICP or other cardiovascular societies?
Yes, I am the chairman of the local chapter, the SICP Central California Valley Chapter (CVCC). We have been very successful with excellent support from our members, and lots of encouragement from the cath lab and local cardiologists. I am also a member of the local chapter of Mended Hearts.
Are there websites or texts that you would recommend to other cath labs?
Yes, I would recommend http://www.cardiosource.org and http://www.cardiovillage.com.
Do you remember participating in your first invasive procedure?
Yes, I was asked to go to the cath lab to back up another new nurse on a left heart cath procedure. I remember being very nervous at the time. Lots of things were going through my mind, like what to do in case the patient crashed. I kept my eyes on the monitor the whole time.
If you could send a message back to yourself at the beginning of your cath lab career, what advice would you give?
I would advise myself to take every opportunity and challenges that comes my way. You just don’t know. It could be something you would like the rest of your career.
Where do you hope to be in your career when it is time to retire?
I hope that by the time I retire, I would have accomplished everything I wanted to do. Hopefully I have positively influenced others, especially my family.
Has anyone In particular been helpful to you in your growth as a cardiovascular professional?
Yes, my manager in the cath lab has been very supportive and he is very supportive of the SICP. My colleagues are also very interested in becoming registered cardiovascular invasive specialist (RCIS)/registered cardiac electrophysiology specialist (RCES) certified. Most of our cath lab staff is planning to take a review class, to be held November 3-4th at Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia, CA, hosted by the CCVC of the SICP.
Any final thoughts?
Having worked in other areas, I personally believe this is the way of the future. I have seen the changes in the new technology, and I am really interested in learning other high tech procedures.
Do you know an outstanding cardiovascular professional who should be featured in the “10-Minute Interview”?
Contact Rebecca Kapur at email@example.com.