Cardiac Nurse Career Overview
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Cardiac nurses, or cardiovascular nurses, specialize in cardiovascular heart health. Heart disease continues to affect millions of Americans, and cardiac nurses help treat patients with various heart conditions by administering different medications and therapies.
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What Does a Cardiac Nurse Do?
Cardiac nurses work under cardiologists, and take on many tasks to treat both acute and chronic heart conditions. For patients with acute heart failure, like heart attacks or cardiac arrest, they use tools like defibrillators. Cardiac nurses may assist surgeons with heart surgery as well.
For patients with chronic conditions, cardiac nurses may monitor and assess heart conditions. They carry out or help with various treatments, like advanced cardiac life support or catheterization laboratory.
- Advanced cardiac life support
- Patient care
- Critical thinking
Where do Cardiac Nurses Work?
Cardiac nurses find employment in many types of healthcare facilities, including hospitals, intensive care settings, medical clinics, and rehabilitative or long-term care facilities. You can find out how cardiac nurses' roles differ in these various settings below:
Cardiac nurses in ICU units may need to administer certain drugs or use a defibrillator after cardiac arrest or heart attack. They may use hemodynamic or telemetry monitoring, and they use intracardiac devices like catheters and balloon pumps. Many Cardiac ICUs also recover patients after surgeries.
Hospital Cardiology Unit
Monitor patients' heart activity and electrocardiograms, administer medication and other treatments, and educate patients and their families about their condition.
Hospital Surgical Unit
Prepare patients for surgery, assist the surgeon with any tasks during surgery, and help patients recover post-op.
Why Become a Cardiac Nurse?
If becoming a cardiovascular nurse appeals to you, make sure to evaluate the pros and cons of the profession before you decide whether to pursue this career.
Advantages to Becoming a Cardiac Nurse
Nurses who focus on chronic health often build relationships with their patients, which can make their work fulfilling.
Nurses who work in critical care settings save lives in imminent danger, which can also be fulfilling.
Potential for career growth; cardiology nurses can earn graduate degrees and become cardiac nurse practitioners.
Job security and stability; Heart health remains a huge issue in the U.S., which means cardiac nurses are needed for critical roles in the industry.
Disadvantages to Becoming a Cardiac Nurse
Stress and burnout â working in the cardiology unit can lead to physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion.
Cardiac nurses may find themselves working long hours and going to the hospital while on call at non-typical hours.
As much as some patients are appreciative, others can be difficult to work with.
Taking care of some of the sickest patients in the hospital.
How to Become a Cardiac Nurse
Pass the NCLEX-RN to Receive RN Licensure.
Gain Experience in Cardiac Nursing.
Consider Becoming Certified in Cardiac Nursing.
Advance Your Career With a Graduate Degree.
Certification Options for Cardiac Nurses
Cardiac Vascular Nursing Certification (CV-BC)
Cardiac Surgery Certification (CSC)
Cardiac Medicine Certification (CMC)
Basic Life Support (BLS)
Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS)
Featured Online MSN Programs
How Much Do Cardiac Nurses Make?
Cardiovascular nursing salaries vary based on factors like experience, location, and education level. Payscale data shows that these professionals earn an average base salary of $88,646. Total pay for cardiovascular nursing salaries ranges from $51,000 - $90,000, according to Payscale.
The job outlook for nurses in general remains optimistic as well. The number of RNs could increase by 9% from 2020 to 2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That amounts to nearly 194,500 projected RN job openings each year on average. With the number of aging baby boomers and the prevalence of heart disease in the U.S., the healthcare system will likely see an increased need for cardiovascular nursing jobs too.
Frequently Asked Questions About a Career as a Cardiac Care Nurse
How many years does it take to become a cardiac nurse?
If you decide to pursue certification, then it can take 4-6 years to become a cardiovascular nurse. This depends on multiple factors, like whether you pursue a two-year ADN or a four-year BSN and whether you enroll in these programs full- or part-time. In addition, although cardiac nurses need a minimum of two years working specifically in cardiovascular health before they can apply for certification, it sometimes takes longer to gain enough experience.
How do cardiac nurses work with other healthcare professionals?
Cardiovascular nurses sometimes work in teams with their fellow nurses. They also work under the direction of cardiologists and heart surgeons, assisting these physicians with complex medical tasks.
What are the advantages of becoming a board certified nurse?
Board certification demonstrates that nurses possess the expertise they need to work in cardiology units. Although not necessary to find a job, it can give job seekers an edge over uncertified candidates. It can also lead to opportunities for career advancement and add leverage in negotiations for higher salaries.
Are cardiac nurses in demand?
Overall, the BLS projects the registered nurse profession could grow by 9% between 2020 and 2030, which is promising for a nurse in any speciality. Cardiovascular health also remains a particularly in-demand part of the healthcare system. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports heart disease is the leading cause of death for Americans — in fact, heart disease accounts for 1 in 4 deaths in the U.S. In other words, cardiovascular nursing jobs remain needed in the industry.
Resources for Cardiac Nurses
Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association (PCNA)The PCNA aims to promote nurses as leaders within the cardiovascular health field. Members can participate in professional development opportunities, like the annual seminar and online learning sessions. The organization also offers Cardiac/Vascular Certification. Job seekers can utilize the PCNA's job board and take part in networking opportunities.
American Heart Association (AHA)Established in 1924, the AHA operates as a nonprofit organization advocating for advances in cardiovascular health. The site publishes several resources for people suffering from heart disease and cardiac health care professionals. Individuals who sign up for professional membership receive subscriptions to the AHA's journal and other publications, and they may attend conferences and other events.
American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (ACCN)Critical and acute care nurses — including those specializing in cardiovascular health — may join this organization, which grants certification within the field. Members can access webinars, conferences, and events. The association also grants scholarships for professional development and excellence awards to outstanding nurses.
American Association of Heart Failure Nurses (AAHFN)This organization connects nurses who work within a specific area of cardiovascular health: heart failure. Members can attend conferences and continuing education courses, and they can access nursing resources too. AAHFN gives out Nightingale Research Grants for individuals and scholarships for nurses who wish to further careers with a master's degree.
Page last reviewed January 25, 2022
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