Why did you choose to work in the invasive cardiology field?
Critical care nursing is one of the most stable positions when compared to any other nursing job. After 11 years, a change seemed in order. Cardiology was always a favorite subject and this appeared to be a great way to combine patient care with new technology.
Can you describe your role in the cath lab?
I first worked in the cath lab for 12 years as nurse, monitor and scrub, and electrophysiology nurse, monitor and scrub. I had been helping with charge entry and supplies when our lab lost its data and supply manager. I was asked to cover this void. Four years after I assumed this position in the cath lab, a void was open in our interventional radiology (IR) department. We were not a combined lab at the time, but the equipment was similar. I had been coding for cardiology for years and IR coding looked like a good challenge. I now have a full-time position coding, billing and purchasing for both departments.
What is the biggest challenge you see regarding your role in the lab?
To provide the best patient care with the latest equipment and technology while maintaining a good budget for both units. Our vendors are great, and we love to have them inservice our physicians and staff on what is great equipment for better patient care.
What motivates you to continue working in the cath lab?
My wife, my mortgage and a new Boston Whaler!
Why is important to form educational opportunities in the cath lab?
It was the dream of three people to bring an SICP chapter to our area. We presented it to the 5 area cath labs and decided to become the Emerald Coast Chapter of SICP. It is a means of providing education to the staff, a showcase for our vendors and a way of saluting the great care we give.
When work gets stressful and you experience low moments (as we all do), what do you do to keep your morale high?
I am a manager of one. The piles of paper on my desk are my incentive and Friday at 3:30 is my reward. I am very lucky that I get pats on the back from management and staff for my work.
Are you involved with the SICP or other cardiovascular societies?
I have been our chapter treasurer for the past 2 years and this year, I am the chapter president. It is a great contribution for a resume and should be a milestone for any cath lab employee.
Are there websites or texts that you would recommend to other cath labs?
Zhealth.com is a good resource for coding. Our vendors are always helpful in supplying classes for coding and other cath lab topics.
Do you remember participating in your first invasive procedure?
Me, my wife, and a friend, Anne Bailey, all came to the cath lab as nurses at the same time. As we could not all be ‘the nurse,’ we needed to learn other jobs to be on call. I learned to scrub first. I had worked in the surgical intensive care unit for 6 years and this helped a little. The first day, I watched the scrubs work with the physician and the equipment. On day 2, I had my first hands-on experience. I got to scrub with one of our great cardiologists, Dr. Pickens. He taught me that the scrub table is like a football field. The playbook changes with each physician. It was my job to clean the wire and pull the catheter back after it was removed from the artery. The scrimmage line changes with each play. Just watch for the ball and don’t drop it.
If you could send a message back to yourself at the beginning of your cardiovascular lab career, what advice would you give?
Don’t be afraid to try new experiences. Learn every role in the cardiovascular (CV) lab. Be a part of every new piece of equipment. It can really help you to be the “go-to” person. Remember everyone has something they can teach you. Don’t let opportunities go by.
In the Boston Whaler! I am very content to just retire from here.
Has anyone in particular been helpful to you in your growth as a cardiovascular professional?
I am blessed to have worked with wonderful physicians, staff and management over the years. Dr. Aycock has been a personal friend and someone who has been helpful with cardiology knowledge throughout my role in the CV lab. Even though we are at competing centers, patient care comes first.
Where is the invasive cardiology field headed in the future?
With all of the advancing technology in stents, medicine and imaging, it can only get better for our patients!