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Skills Needed to Be a Successful Invasive Cardiovascular Technologist

Updated on August 26, 2014


So you're considering whether a career in cardiovascular technology is for you, but are uncertain if you should go the invasive or noninvasive route. May be you're wondering if you have the ideal personality and natural skills to be a successful invasive cardiovascular technologist. The sole focus of this article is on the skills and personality traits potential candidates should naturally have, as opposed to what a student will learn in their chosen school program.

Being a team player is vital

Invasive cardiovascular technologists work side-by-side with other invasive specialists and cardiologists on a regular basis, whereas noninvasive specialists often work one-on-one with patients and sometimes cardiologists. Sometimes the invasive specialist will work alone if typing up a report, although spend most of their work day in a cath lab with other specialists. Because of the nature of working within a group, invasive cardiovascular technologists find themselves working with a wide range of people with various personality types, beliefs, etc. If you find you don't work well with others (or simply prefer working alone), then choosing the noninvasive track may be a more suitable choice.

You must be able to let someone else hold the reins for you

Unless you are self-employed or have a job where you get to choose when you work and with who, it is typically your boss who gives you assignments. Invasive cardiovascular technologists often work in different labs each day and are assigned to work the procedures that occur within that lab. Some days a cath lab tech can work several procedures in a day and on other days, perform only a couple procedures. The cath lab tech does not get to decide to work other procedures without getting an okay from the lab supervisor or department head. Because invasive cardiovascular technologists sometimes work on patients having a heart attack or are otherwise symptomatic, they should expect to work "on call". In other words, the patients and the people they work with (and when they work) are essentially chosen for the cath lab specialist. If you are more of a go-getter who likes having a little more control over who you work with and when you work (or simply dislike the idea of working "on call"), becoming a noninvasive cardiovascular technologist may be a better route for you.

Cardiovascular Invasive specialists working with a cardiologist to prepare for a cardiac catheterization procedure.
Cardiovascular Invasive specialists working with a cardiologist to prepare for a cardiac catheterization procedure. | Source

Good hand-eye coordination and enjoying hands-on work are ideal traits of an invasive cardiovascular technologist

While most jobs in today's world involves working with computers and digital technologies one way or another, the work invasive cardiovascular technologists do mainly involves being hands-on in a patient's care. Invasive specialists do work with computers in the tools used in creating images of cardiac vessels Because of the precise work involved with procedures that take place in cath labs, it is also important to have good hand-eye coordination. Having poor gross motor skills can be rather drastic in any healthcare profession that involves hands-on patient care. If you do not working with your hands too much and prefer a job that involves more computer work, following the noninvasive track is a better idea.

Having the capability to handle chaos and unpredictability in the work environment is required

Not everything can be predicted (otherwise most of us would have won the lottery by now), nor is anything ever in perfect order. In the cardiac cath lab, there is a lot going on in the external environment and the patient may be close to dying. As a result of this, strong and egotistical personalities are plentiful in this ever chaotic, very demanding environment. One may come across a lot of people talking over each other in the cath lab because a lot of invasive cardiovascular technologists want to have their chance in the spotlight. If you are the kind of person who would rather be in a calmer, more quiet environment, being a noninvasive specialist might be more your calling.

A coronary angiogram displaying left coronary circulation.
A coronary angiogram displaying left coronary circulation.

Doing things in a step-by-step fashion is part of the job

Some tasks require doing things in an orderly, step-by-step fashion. The medical procedures done in the cath lab are completed one step at a time. In this, being able to follow directions closely and in a specific way are required for this field of work. There is little room for error or for experimenting on how procedures are done on the fly, as the patient's life is at stake. While the work environment can be chaotic and unpredictable as far as the patient's condition goes and what can happen during the procedures, the procedures are done in a systematic fashion and the same way every time. If you are the type of person who enjoys having some room for doing things in a slightly different way each time (within reason of course in a way the cardiologist can still know what's going on), being a noninvasive cardiovascular technologist is probably more for you.

A decisive, black-and-white approach is a must

Do you find yourself capable of making decisions fast based on select information? Are you the kind of person who likes to know if something goes one way or the other (more so black and white)? When you make decisions, do you feel 100% confident about the decision you've made? Do your friends and family members accuse you of jumping to conclusions too quickly? Because of the more emergent nature that tends to be involved with invasive cardiovascular technology, decisions must be made quickly and with much certainty. In the case that a patient is experiencing an acute MI (medical term for heart attack), being "black and white" decision-maker is expected. If someone is left jumping to a conclusion about a patient's medical condition too slowly, it can impact how the patient turns out (or doesn't). In short, questions such as "is the patient experiencing an acute MI or not?", and "Do we need to perform a LHC or a RHC or a combination of both?" are asked in the cath lab.

If you find yourself to be more of a "shades of gray" thinker who needs some time to contemplate what they believe is occurring in a patient, noninvasive cardiovascular technology may be a less stressful path to follow.

Which track in cardiovascular technology interests you more (or in which are you currently a specialist?)

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Cardiovascular technologists of both invasive and noninvasive tracks both assist cardiologists with diagnosing and treating cardiovascular diseases. What determines whether someone should follow the invasive or noninvasive track lies in their personalities and some skill sets they already possess. You might be more suited for the invasive track if you enjoy working as part of a team, don't mind letting someone else take the reins for you, enjoy hands-on type of work following a traditional step-by-step method, and prefer a more chaotic environment. Either track you decide to pursue in your career as a cardiovascular technologist, understand both invasive and noninvasive specialists play a vital role in a patient's care. Regardless of whether you are an invasive or noninvasive specialist, it is also important to understand the procedures done by both tracks and understand the concepts behind them.


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