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What is Cardiac Nursing?

Cardiac nursing, also called cardiovascular nursing, is a specialization in which nurses treat patients with heart problems. Cardiac care nurses treat patients afflicted with heart problems. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States and that 1.5 million heart attacks take place on an annual basis.

Currently, approximately 80 million individuals in the U.S. suffer from heart diseases and conditions, and this number is continually on the rise. For this reason, the field of cardiac nursing is expanding at a rapid pace. Also called cardiovascular nursing, this nursing specialization is one in which the professional offers various services to heart patients, whether young or old, ambulatory or residing in a long-term care facility.

Equivalent Titles for Nurses: Cardiac Nurses, Cardiovascular Nurses, or Cardiology Nurses

Where Do Cardiac Nurses Work?

Nurses in this field may work in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living establishments, or other medical facilities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for nurses will increase by 9 percent through 2030. Nurses specializing in cardiac care must complete their education at an accredited institution. Then, they earn a license before launching their career.

What Education Do You Need to Become a Cardiac Nurse?

To qualify for nursing jobs in the cardiac field, a person must first enroll in a nursing program at an accredited school. Only registered nurses qualify to specialize in a particular field in most states. For this reason, it is wise for prospective nurses who wish to specialize to first enroll in a quality RN program. This education provides the appropriate foundation of education to build a career.

Prospective nurses may choose to obtain an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree in nursing science or a similar discipline. In most cases, it takes two years to complete an associate’s program and four years to receive a bachelor’s degree. A Master’s degree typically takes six years of full-time study to complete. Students with a bachelor’s degree will find it easier to break into the cardiology field.

NCLEX-RN Examination

After completing a nursing education program, students must take the national certification test. The prospective nurse must first pass the NCLEX-RN examination before they can work independently as a registered nurse at a medical facility. Most instructors recommend taking the test immediately following college graduation, as this increases the person’s chances of passing the examination with an acceptable grade. Depending on the state where you take the test, prospective nurses may have a chance to retake it if you do not pass the first time. Applicants can request a test date by contacting the State Board of Nursing in one’s home state.

Nursing Specialization Certification

Nurses can seek cardiac-vascular nurse certification when a passing grade is obtained on the NCLEX-RN examination. This examination is designed to test a prospective cardiac nurse’s knowledge of the heart and vascular health, diseases, conditions, and syndromes. The approximate cost to take the examination is $400. However, fees are subject to change at any time, so prospective nurses should verify before they schedule the test. The exam can be requested and scheduled by contacting the Preventative Cardiovascular Nurses Association–PCNA–or visiting their website.

Specialization Study Materials

Aspiring cardiac nurses can acquire study guide materials from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Costs vary from one year to the next for such material; however, members of the Association typically receive a discount of approximately 10 percent.

Available Positions for Cardiac Nurses

Cardiology nurse positions are in a variety of settings. These include private practices, home health agencies, community hospitals, private hospitals, long-term care facilities, or assisted living establishments. Those searching for positions in their local area should consider checking with professional organizations, such as the Preventative Cardiovascular Nurses Association.

What Does a Cardiac Nurse Do?

The primary duty of a cardiovascular nurse is to begin cardiac rehabilitation and offer education to help the patient maintain a healthy lifestyle that will ultimately reduce the chances of more heart problems in the future. Patients under the care of cardiac nursing professionals are often recovering from heart attacks. They may also have undergone cardiac procedures such as placement of a pacemaker, bypass surgery, valve replacement, or stent installation.

Cardiac wellness is also a primary focus of nurses in this field, as they must teach coronary disease patients ways to improve their daily habits and create a healthier lifestyle. This includes teaching them how to prepare healthy meals low in cholesterol and fat, decrease stress, and exercise appropriately without straining their heart. Cardiac nursing also involves communication with the cardiac patient’s family. It may include visits to the patient’s dwelling to help with drug monitoring and other issues that may be overwhelming for family members.

What Skills Does a Cardiac Nurse Need?

Cardiac nurses must possess a vast array of skills to care for patients appropriately. These include fast interpretation of electrocardiograph readings and cardiac rhythms. Additionally, they must evaluate data quickly and take appropriate action if they find abnormalities. They must also have an attentive bedside manner. These nurses ease anxiety in scared or upset cardiovascular patients. Keeping records and tracking progress is also an important task that virtually all cardiac-vascular nurses must do.

A Rewarding Field

Because heart disease is such a prominent issue in the United States, there is a virtually unlimited demand for the nursing field of cardiovascular care. Although advances in cardiac medicine and procedures have improved the results of surgery and hastened recovery time, cardiac nursing is still essential to the well-being of coronary heart disease patients.

To begin a career in the cardiac nursing field, you should first find a nursing program. An online search for schools and programs near you is a good place to start. Some start with an associate degree. However, clinical experience to graduate and sit for the state exam. Anyone who chooses this profession will likely discover such work both interesting and rewarding.


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