What makes a good lab?

We work hard. Really hard. And long hours. Really long hours. What makes a place we want to work hard for long hours?
Teamwork, for one. We need people who will do what needs to be done when it needs to be done for no reason other than because it needs to be done. We need nurses who will come in to the other lab and connect the patient to get that case started sooner. We need techs who will cross over and start the monitor to get the case started. We need anyone who will, to come in and clean after the case. And we need the people who got help to do the same thing when it’s their turn. Because…it will come back to you. Maybe today, you will be the one who does more than anyone else. But over the course of a week or a month, it will all balance out. We all get tired of Dez Bryant complaining about not getting the ball thrown his way enough. But over the course of the season, he made a lot of TDs, right? He got it when it counted. And you will, too. Nurses, please be more than just med-pushers. Please understand that you can pull wires, and you can open catheters, and you can keep up with contrast amounts, and you can watch radiation doses just as anyone else can. And techs? You can watch the monitor and be the first to call out “V-FIB!” at the right time. You can scratch the patient’s nose. You can (yes, you can!) put a bedpan in and take it out. (To be honest, that’s one reason I DIDN’T go to nursing school: I didn’t want to do bedpans!) But when it needs to be done, I need to do it. I like it here, because while I don’t like legs, I do enjoy a good IR case from time to time. So my coworker does the legs and I do the TIPS and Kyphoplasty and whatever else comes along.
Competence is next. Come in and learn your job. Know when to call out “V-FIB!”. Know that an RCA injection may cause arrhythmias. Know that a wire in the ventricle may cause arrhythmias. Know what’s coming next in the workflow. Know the difference between compliant and non-compliant; and monorail and OTW. Know the difference between drug-eluting and bare metal. Be able to differentiate between .014, .018 and .035 wires. Please don’t open a 300 cm wire when we’re using monorail, and don’t open a 180 cm when we’re using OTW. Learn how big to shave the groin. Learn where to put the EKG patches so they’re not in the picture. These are small things, but they make such a difference in how the day goes!
And that’s one thing I like about the hospital where I am now. It’s a small place; 2 labs, 3 techs, 4 nurses (2 in training) and 2 nurses in the recovery area. But everyone steps in to help; the nurses in training are learning fast. Even the doctors step in to make sure they don’t schedule too much for one day (wish we could clone them!). Being a fairly new department, there is no call, so we all stay late to finish cases, but we only get 2-4 hours OT per week. That’s not too bad. The manager (RCIS) lets us do our job with a minimum of supervision but is ready to step in when needed. The director (RT) stays out and makes sure we have what we need. It’s a good setup, and looks to grow at a good pace. It’ll be fun to check in with them in a couple of years to see what’s happened. Hopefully, the upper management won’t get too caught up in credentials and will allow the cath lab management to continue, since they are running the lab efficiently and keeping the employees, doctors and patients happy. And that’s what makes a good lab!

3 thoughts on “What makes a good lab?”

  1. 1. Nurse collegial teamwork is very important.
    2. Secondly a Nurse Manager who is personable and supportive.
    3. Physicians/Surgeons & Nursing Leadership who treat Nurses with dignity and respect.
    4. The opportunity for advancement with increased compensation through a Clinical Ladder.

    I have read that implementing a Clinical Ladders is very expensive to implement. But so is the attrition of a dissatisfied unhappy Nurse is costly too!

      1. Yes indeed I certainly do think my ideas should extend to the Cath Lab Techs. I apologize for my exclusion. The Cath Lab Techs are an integral part of the team. Just like the Surgical Techs who serve in the perioperative areas. Techs should have increased competition and opportunities for advancement. Could be clinical levels of achievement Tech Level 1,2,3,4. Higher the level designates greater proficiency and incentives of increased compensation.

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