Become a cardiac nurse
Cardiac (or cardiovascular) nurses are specialized advanced practice registered nurses who work with besides cardiologists and other healthcare professionals to offer comprehensive care for the patients. They care for patients with acute and chronic heart problems.
An advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) specializing in cardiology practice usually holds multiple specialty certifications in acute care of the specific patient population. Cardiac nurses are highly educated and have much experience allowing them to diagnose, treat and manage conditions affecting the complex cardiovascular system.
Their work entails promoting optimal cardiovascular health among most clients. They promote health by involving screening, stress tests, disease prevention, as well as management strategies. They also offer nursing care to patients who have coronary heart disease and postoperative care to those in the recovery period after a heart transplant or bypass surgery.
Education to Become a Cardiac Nurse
Anyone aspiring to become a cardiac nurse has to start by becoming a registered nurse (RNs). The route to becoming an RN requires a prospective candidate to complete an associate or bachelor’s degree. Nursing diplomas in the past years was a way to qualify to become be an RN, but nowadays diplomas are rare, and it is education that hospitals offer. Associate and bachelor degree programs are now the most common degrees. Programs for these degrees are at post-high schools educational institutions like the junior colleges, 4- year colleges and universities.
Undergraduate Training to Become a Cardiac Nurse
The minimum educational requirement to be a cardiac nurse is an ADN, but since there are many well-educated nurses, many hospitals prefer to hire those with a minimum of a BSN degree. Some colleges offer accelerated programs to students who have a bachelor‘s degree in another academic field. Accelerated programs last between 14 to 21 months. It depends on a program, but nursing degree programs require students to have studied some basic science courses before entry.
Many cardiac nurses are holders of a master’s degree in nursing then proceed to pursue a post-masters certificate in the cardiovascular specialty. Also, some of the cardiac nurses participate in competitive fellowship programs after they receive their MSN degree. Generally, the nurses who want to join cardiac specialization with high chances of qualification should have an MSN degree with a concentration in cardiac care. Nursing practicum supplements classroom learning.
Aspiring cardiac nurses after training must get apply for licensing at the state the will practice before the start attending to patients. Nurses get licensure after earning a bachelor’s degree and passing a national exam and meeting the specific requirement by a state. For instance, in the US, nurses sit for the National Council Licensure Examination.
ANCC (American Nurses Credentialing Center) requires nurses to have full-time experience of two years, 2000 hours of clinical practice at a cardiac nursing setting and 30 hours of cardiac vascular continuing education. The nurse receives a cardiovascular certification to become Registered nurse –Board Certified (RN-BC) after receiving cardiovascular certification.
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Other Skills to Become a Cardiac Nurse
There are common skills to qualify for various nursing job postings. Direct patient care skills are necessary for all nursing jobs.
Another top skill that employers seek is telemetry a skill set to monitor patient vital signs in patients who require acute care with a device such as an electrocardiogram.
The third most essential skill for a cardiac nurse is Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS).
Other additional skills that employers seek in cardiac nurses are:
- Interventional radiology
- Case management
- Treatment planning
- Catheterization laboratory
Cardiac nursing candidates need to refine other soft non-technical skills. Ability to communicate is the first soft skill that employers look for in applicants. Other additional soft skills that those pursuing cardiac nurse positions should have include:
- Critical thinking
- Ability to work in a team and collaborate
- Physical ability to handle the tasks in a cardiology unit
- Research abilities
- Ability to solve problems
- Computer skills
On Job Training to Become a Cardiac Nurse
Cardiac nursing is a specialty area that focuses on treating and preventing heart relating conditions. These nurses are well trained, but they must learn everything that it entails to work in cardiology departments with the right skills. It enables them to master norm cardiac anatomy, knowledge of cardiac conditions, assessment and monitoring skills. They also learn on recommended treatment options and preventive methods for various heart diseases. Nursing education and training enable the cardiac nurses to perform these vital roles in the medical setting:
Telemetry care– telemetry care is monitoring the vital signs using advanced equipment like an electrocardiogram. Telemetry nurses usually work with Cardiac Cath Lab (CCL) nurses because of their responsibility to provide assessment and follow-up monitoring.
Cardiac catheterization labs– Some cardiac nurses focus their education and training on cardiac catheterization to hold the designation of CCL nurse. Cardiac catheterization labs are often found in hospital environments. They can work in critical, acute or emergency care. The type of care that CCL nurses provide is short term and immediate. Some of them offer pre and post-procedure care.
Electrophysiology labs– cardiac nurses in electrophysiology labs, work together with cardiologists to diagnose the cause arrhythmias and provide interventional treatment that might involve medications, pacemakers and ablation.
Career Prospects for a Cardiac Nurse
A cardiac nurse, after all the above education and training, can perform various cardiac care activities. They work in different settings that hire cardiac nurses, including:
- Hospital in ICU or taking care of cardiac patients in wards
- Private clinics
- Home health agencies
- Correctional facilities
- Nursing homes
Cardiovascular nurses can use their certification to move into a specialty area. They can continue their education to be a certified nurse practitioner. Cardiac–vascular nurse practitioners work, including assessing and educating patients about heart diseases as well as treatment plans. They also analyze radiology or lab work result to create a care plan. Cardiac-vascular nurse practitioners can work in private practice clinics. Cardiac nurses can also advance to nursing management positions. They are responsible for oversight, directing and training cardiovascular nurses.
Heart disease and conditions are prevalent, so the demand for cardiac nurses is high. The median annual salary for cardiac nurses is $66,000, but it fluctuates depending on experience level, place and location of employment. Holders of an advanced degree are at the top of the pay range.