Traveling In The Cardiac Cath Lab

A cath lab travel nursing and allied health company that truly understands the nuances of the cath lab is critical to a successful travel assignment. More than any other unit in the hospital – the details matter. Across hospitals, no units are more different in how they operate. Team structures, equipment, procedures… the combinations are endless.

At Phoenix, we make sure to ask every single question that matters. We have over 5 decades of experience – in Cath Lab. Not Med/Surg, ER, Tele, not LVNs, CNAs or other. Not to say we won’t help our hospitals with other modalities (after all, we would never turn away an ICU referral from one of our CCL team members!), but our bread, butter, honey and spice is Cardiac Cath Lab, Interventional Radiology and Electrophysiology.

Why Work with Phoenix?

Unlike other staffing agencies, at Phoenix we tell you the bill rate of your assignment. On top of that, we don't profit on your extra hard work (OT, CBOT, DT, On Call Hours) - we only cover our costs of Worker's Comp and taxes.

We staff both nurses and technologists and we know what the alphabet soup means...

We know RNs can carry RCIS, RCES, IBHRE (both CEPS and CCDS). We know technologists do too. We know some techs have fluoro licenses and some don’t – and we know the states where it matters. We know how tough the ARRT (CI) and (VI) tests are for a Radiologic Technologist. We know it’s offensive to say technician to a technologist. We know what “scrub drive” means. We know how big of a mistake it is when you show up to an assignment expecting 4 person call teams only to find out it’s a 3 person team – with only one nurse (you!).

We can help you successfully navigate the landmines that could quickly derail a seemingly perfect assignment. We have pre-written interview questions to give to help save your valuable time. We know to ask the Cath / IR case mix and structure of the on call teams to name the most basic few. Good staffing agencies will ask these questions for you. The other kind says “and makes sure you ask all of your questions in the interview”. It’s just that simple.

Our approach to staffing for cath lab travel is different. It needs to be different. We can truthfully say that every single one of our recruiters has been in a hospital and viewed cases from start to finish. It’s a required part of our recruiter training. We’re going to approach you as the medical professionals you are…and staffing professionals we are. We know that the beeper could go off at any time and our conversation is over in an instant – so we have a short time to open up and prove our credibility to you.

We have the best Cath Lab relationships in the country and that leads to the best jobs and most successful placements.

We’re calling you because we know that you are uniquely qualified and we know the value of your skill set and the best place to practice, learn and grow.

Why is Phoenix MedStaff a Trusted
Cath Lab Travel Agency?

We're serving the Cath Lab community because we provide value...

There are plenty of healthcare staffing companies that recruit cath lab professionals (both nursing and allied) that we believe are doing a disservice to the work you do. We also believe that each cath lab specialist has a unique set of healthcare skills that came from your medical experience in different labs combined with how you were taught and learned. The combination of those experiences is as unique as a healthcare fingerprint.

When you travel with Phoenix, our value extends further than just helping pick a Cath Lab job...

It’s about working together to make life easier, which makes healthcare better. Once you leave the hospital, you are expected to manage your credential expirations, benefits and more. We believe we offer best in class employee benefits:

  • We pay for your licensures (RN and Allied)
  • We pay for credentials (RCIS, RCES, IBHRE)
  • We pay for CPR (ACLS, BLS)
  • We pay for medical items when onboarding for an assignment

Top Tier Employee Healthcare, PTO & Retirement Benefits...

  • Medical, dental, vision (with free option for single employees)
  • Short term, long term and crisis disability
  • 401K employer match of 5% – vested and starting Day 1
  • Maximum PTO accrual – vested and starting Day 1
  • Legal assistance plans

Experience matters in the Cath Lab...

Too often, we speak with cardiovascular service supervisor’s or director’s that are hesitant to utilize travel staffing due to a bad experience in the past. And when people work with different companies, we hear this all too often – “Why is Rookie Ryan making the same as Pro Patty when Patty has so much more healthcare experience?” Our policy does not allow this to happen. The more relevant experience you have, the more you get paid.

We know every Cath Lab in the United States...

The types of medical equipment, the on call structures, the cardiac department organization…that info is not posted in your typical travel cath lab tech job description but is absolutely critical to you feeling comfortable on your first day or feeling like you’re playing catch up. And these nuances are not as important when you get into floor nursing so a lot of agencies do not focus on it. But the details matter!

Am I ready to travel in the Cath Lab?

What is a traveling cath lab tech? What do they do?

A cath lab tech is an important part of the medical team who assist the doctor in many different roles – panning, scrubbing, monitoring – in non-invasive cardiovascular cases to life saving invasive surgery like Angioplasty, Stenting and Rotablating. During a cardiac catheterization, a cath lab tech will set up their tray with the appropriate guide wires and catheters and assist the physician with the needed equipment for the case.

The difference between a good cath lab tech and a great cath lab tech is the skill set and knowledge a tech brings to each and every case, the ability to anticipate the doctor’s next move, and the ability to adapt and change the direction of the case in an instant. Each job will expect a travel cath lab tech to be able to jump right in. A day of orientation, some time for the individual lab details and a few questions about physician preferences and it’s time to rock and roll.

Nursing can be different because of the medication and charting. Across the country, no two hospitals are alike. Pyxis logins, Epic trainings…sometimes there is more required than the tech jobs. But there is one common thread – once you hit the lab, it’s go time.

Nurse or tech, cath lab is demanding. But the most demanding jobs are always the most rewarding!

How does travel cath pay for cath lab jobs compare to say… my EP lab tech salary?

RN or lab tech jobs can be very lucrative, but travel agencies generally don’t use the term “salary”.  So how do we compare staff jobs to travel jobs?  In order to properly compare a salary position to a travel job, you need to compare what gets deposited in the bank, less any extra expenses (like a second place to live while you work in another city).

Let's break it down...

Travel cath lab technologist pay, for example, would include compensation buckets for the following:

  • Taxable wages (most commonly compared to your earning hourly wage at a hospital)
    • Separate rates for regular hours, OT hours, CBOT, DT and On Call
  • Stipend (tax free amount used to cover living / work expenses below)
    • Usually capped by the weekly days or hrs worked
    • 4 10-hour shift schedule will be capped at 40, while 3 12’s would be capped at 36
  • Sign on or extension bonuses
  • Employer paid benefits (health insurance premiums or 401K matching)

Additionally, some extra expenses to include in your comparison:

  • Extra rent
  • Food
  • Parking or other professional services

As a healthcare facility staff member, your lab tech salary is primarily comprised of:

  • Taxable wages determined by clinical ladder
  • No tax-free stipend
  • Sign on bonuses available on occasion, but not regularly

Travel jobs are able to bestow tax benefits as some of the funds are used to cover secondary living expenses used in the course of work, however it makes rates hard to compare.  The best way to compare a salary job to a lab tech travel job is converting the salary to an hourly rate and “grossing up” the stipend to compare all-taxable hourly rates apples to apples. 

  • Salary of $120,000 = ($120,000 / 52 weeks / 40 hours per week) = $57.69
  • Travel Job with $35 taxable per hour and $1000 stipend per week
    • $1000 = $1000 / 40 hours per week = $25 / hour
  • We want to know how a $25 / hour nontax rate compares to a taxable rate
    • $25 nontax = $25 / (1 – tax rate)
    • Tax rate includes payroll taxes, income taxes (state and fed)
    • $25 nontax = $25 / (1 – 25%) = $33.33
  • To properly compare the staff wage of $57.69, the travel position pays a comparable rate of $68.33 ($35.00 plus $33.33)

Travel jobs usually refer to compensation as the “Gross Weekly”.  This is the amount that is all of your working hours multiplied by all of the wage rates, but does not include any additions for on call, OT, or CBOT because these are all “unscheduled” hours and you haven’t worked yet so the “Gross Weekly” estimate is just the scheduled hours (just regular hours).

When compared to a hospital job paycheck, the actual amount that gets deposited into your bank account is considerably higher due to the tax advantages of the stipend. 

Where are the best travel lab tech jobs?

The age old question! And of course, it comes with a two part answer:

Historically, the highest rates for jobs in the country have always come from the West Coast, and California in particular. The highest rates are typically in Electrophysiology departments looking for someone with mapping experience, with Interventional Radiology at the lower end of the range.

Since Covid arrived, the rest of the geographic jobs markets have caught up and can now exceed cath lab travel jobs in California, especially when considering the lower cost of living in these other areas. Additionally, the increase in stroke programs has made IR RNs and lab techs more specialized so jobs have increased there as well.

The longer answer is….how can you say what the best is? Every single cath lab tech has their own preferences for the types of cases and equipment, the size of the lab, the patient demographics, what they’re allowed to do (circ, monitor, scrub, run the stim, etc).

The best advice is to travel with a company that knows the details about the labs or at the very least, will fight with you to get all the information.

How do I know which travel cath job is right for me?

The better question is…what can you get from the jobs that are on the job boards? Not a whole lot when it comes down to the nitty gritty. When it comes to cath lab, talking on the phone with one of our lab advisors is a big help.

Maybe you’re looking to gain some experience with rotablators or want to shoot for dedicated EP jobs. Maybe this time you want to look at a job that give you a little more outdoorsy life, whereas another job lets you see family in the city. Every single time you search cath lab jobs is an opportunity to gain new life experiences, both personal and professional. And we’d love to be there for the ride!

Talk to a Cath Lab Advisor - it’s free and we love to chat lab gossip!

For days and days…the lab gossip never stops.  And we love to hear about the fun stories from the pre-Covid days!  If you want to know any back stories or get the real deal info on a lab, give us a call.  We cherish the chance to hear about your experiences and to share ours (without violating the Privacy Policy of course).  It’s how we get better!

Interview, interview, interview!

Take a few interviews and hone the skills. See how different healthcare facilities run their travel staffing programs. Each manager will ask different questions, so practice makes perfect!

So, what are you waiting for?

Join the flock and get in touch with a recruiter today!

Apply Now