Meet Tricia Nixon, Cardiovascular Technician
My career path was actually pretty much chosen by default. When I first started college I knew I wanted to be in the medical field but I was leaning more toward a career in physical therapy. Following all that procedure I got a degree in biology. When it came to actually applying to physical therapy school I discovered how competitive the program was. There’s about 20 slots for 500+ applicants. And, needless to say, I did not make the cut. So I had to figure out what I was going to do with a biology degree. One of the classes I took in college was an EKG class. And we learned how to do EKGs on ourselves and try to read them and I discovered that I had an abnormal EKG. And that spurred my interest in the cardiac field. So I found out about a program for a cardiovascular tech and I applied to the program and here I am. For a cardiovascular tech you need one year of science and math prerequisites. Anatomy, physiology, biologies and a math course. And then it’s a two-year program that is very specific to what I do now. Very specific to working in a Cath Lab.
The fun thing about my day is you never really know. I come into work and we have a schedule typically but the schedule always changes. There’s emergency procedures that come in any time in the day and you have to be very ready to just drop everything and do an emergency. Scheduled cases will get postponed for those purposes. We also work on different parts of the body. We work on blood flow to the legs, blood flow to the head, the heart. We also work on babies. We do heart caths on babies that are born with congenital defects. Very challenging but important. So you never really know what your day is going to look like, that’s part of the interest that keeps you going.
The best piece of advice I could give someone who is interested in a career in the cardiac Cath Lab, first of all you have to get good grades in your classes that you take. It’s a big focus on sciences and maths. So if those aren’t your strong points you may want to look elsewhere. One of the biggest things I would suggest is if someone thinks you are interested in this field, do some research and find out what really happens in a Cath Lab and try to maybe do an internship. Or a lot of the local hospitals will allow you to shadow a doctor for the day. Shadow a nurse. Shadow a tech. You can actually be in the lab and see what they do. Their daily chores and how they help patients. It’s kind of interesting. You can find out if that’s really what you like.
The best thing about what I do is, when you really get to help someone. It’s very exciting when you have a real emergency that comes into the lab. You have someone who is suffering from a heart attack and they are very serious condition and you get to open a blocked artery for them and you get to help them and you make them better on the sport. It’s immediate gratification. But it keeps it very exciting. The other great aspect about my job is I work with a great staff. Wonderful physicians. Very smart but keep it lively, keep it fun. Everyone knows when you need to work hard and everyone knows when you can have fun with each other and joke around a little bit. And it makes your work environment fun. It makes you want to come to work.