Cardiac Care Nurse

Cardiac care nurses work with patients who have heart disease. This can include patients of all ages, though they are primarily older people who suffer from high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, or stroke, which are some of the most common cardiovascular diseases. Cardiac care nurses usually work in hospitals in critical care or cardiac care, and under the supervision of a cardiologist. However, they can also work in operating rooms, intensive care units, in rehabilitation facilities, or even with patients in their home.

A cardiac care nurse performs some routine procedures, such as monitoring their patients, performing stress tests, keeping patients’ records, communicating with the family, and administering medications. They might also respond to cardiac emergencies, assist the physician with procedures, perform diagnostic testing, or educate the patient about preventive care, medication, or post-operative care. Reducing stress is also particularly important for these patients, so the nurse’s traditional role of providing comfort and empathy is especially important for the cardiac care nurse in addition to their more clinical duties.

Becoming a cardiac nurse requires first becoming a registered nurse (RN). You can become an RN either by earning a four year bachelor’s degree in nursing science at a college or university, or you can earn an associate degree in two to three years at a community college or vocational school. Once you earn your undergraduate nursing degree, you are required to pass the NCLEX exam (National Council Licensure Examination) given by your state’s board of nursing. Learn more about how to become a Registered Nurse.

Once you have completed your education, you will need to gain some critical care nursing experience. If you have nearly 2,000 hours of experience in the last two years, cardiac care nurse certification may be another logical step to advance your career. Certification as a cardiac nurse is not required, but is a huge advantage should you choose to pursue more competitive positions in the cardiac nursing specialty area. Certification demonstrates to your patients and employers that you are committed to your career, and may help you land a job as well as a higher level of respect on your new job. There are different options with cardiac nurse certification, and more than one certifying organization for cardiovascular nurses. The American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) offers cardiac medicine certification (CMC) and cardiac surgery certification (CSC). Additionally, the American Nurse Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers a certification in cardiac rehabilitation nursing and cardiac vascular nursing. Once you have been working in the field of cardiac care nursing you will gain a better understanding and feel for which of the certifications will best fit your career goals and needs. These exams usually require being a licensed RN, as well as around two years of experience.

According to simplyhired.com, a cardiac nurse specialist earns an average of $53,000. This salary can vary quite a bit, depending on your experience, education, whether or not you are certified, as well as geographic location and employer. Earning more advanced nursing degrees, such as becoming a cardiac nurse specialist, will also greatly increase your salary. Because heart disease is an enormous and growing health problem in the United States, this specialty will continue to be in demand in the nursing field. According to the American Heart Association, in 2004 almost 80 million people had cardiovascular disease. Around 1.5 million heart attack victims enter hospitals each year. The healthcare industry needs well trained cardiac nurses to help meet the demand. If you are interested in cardiac nursing, get started now by pursuing your nursing degree. If your are already a nurse, consider researching the above mentioned cardiac nursing certification options and their requirements as well as advanced practice nursing education opportunities in this field. Learn more about the various master's in nursing programs offered throughout the country.

(SOURCES: Cardiovascular Nursing Education Associates, American Association of Critical Care Nurses, American Nurses Credentialing Center, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

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