Cardiac care nurses are nursing professionals who treat patients of all ages across the lifespan who have been affected by cardiac issues and disorders like cardiac arrhythmias, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, myocardial infarction, unstable angina, congestive heart failure, bypass surgery, and others. While the responsibilities and duties of the cardiac care nurse will vary from setting to setting, they may perform health assessments, stress tests, administer heart medications, assist in defibrillation, or care for patients after operations. These nurses can be found working in cardiac catheterization areas, cardiac stress areas, surgical suites, and telemetry units working closely alongside cardiologists to ensure and expedite quality care.
Some duties carried out by cardiac care nurses include, but aren't limited to:
Cardiac care nurses can expect to find employment in the following settings:
RNs who are thinking about going into the cardiac care nursing specialty will need to gain a bit of experience in the field before they're eligible for certification. Nurses with medical-surgical backgrounds or with experience in acute care setting will be well-prepared to enter the field of cardiac care nursing.
If you're a prospective cardiac care nurse, you will first need to enroll in either a two-year ADN program or a four-year BSN program at an accredited college or university. Upon graduation, you can take the NCLEX-RN exam in order to gain licensure as an RN. At this point you should then gain a bit of entry-level experience in the field. You can then pursue a Master of Science in Nursing in order to become a cardiovascular clinical nurse specialist (CNS), or you can accumulate some experience in the cardiac care nursing specialty, take some continuing education courses, and opt for the Cardiac Vascular Nursing Certification (RN-BC). If your main goal is to rise to the highest ranks in the field, you may want to pursue an MSN.
Cardiac care nurses will need to hold an active, unencumbered RN license and have some experience in the field. The complexity of their duties means that an ADN, at minimum, will be required, though most will hold a BSN or higher.
The primary credential required to become a cardiac care nurse is an RN-BC via the Cardiac Vascular Nursing Certification. In order to be eligible for this certification candidates will need to have fulfilled the following requirements:
Additional certifications that are required of cardiac care nurses include the American Heart Association's Basic Life Support (BLS) certification and the Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) certification.
Cardiovascular problems are some of the most commonly encountered medical issues of our day. Cardiac care nursing professionals play an integral role in today's healthcare industry. As technological advances continue to be made in the cardiac care specialty, and as the baby boomers continue to grow older, employment within the field should continue to grow.
According to PayScale, cardiac care nurses make an average hourly wage of $30.72. Annual salaries will range between $47,708 and $101,816. The amount that a cardiac care nurse will make will depend greatly upon factors like years of clinical experience in the field, credentials or certifications held, the city and state of employment, education level, and the employing organization. If employed full-time, cardiac care nurses can expect benefit packages which include medical, prescription, dental, vision, and in some cases life insurance coverage. These nurses can also expect to receive a bit of paid time off each year.