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Cardiac Nurse Practitioner Career Overview

NurseJournal Staff
Updated May 9, 2022
This advanced practice nurse practitioner role requires an MSN and works with cardiologists and surgeons to treat a variety of heart conditions.
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median annual salary$110,000SOURCE: AANP

If you like the idea of challenging nursing work that lets you save or dramatically improve the quality of patients’ lives, becoming a cardiology nurse practitioner (NP) can be an exciting and rewarding career.

Cardiology is advancing rapidly as a field, and the aging of the United States population is driving demand. Because cardiovascular health is based on lifestyle factors as well as genetic and environmental ones, if you’re good at coaching patients and their families, being a cardiology nurse practitioner will put those skills, as well as your clinical ones, to excellent use.

Cardiac Nurse Practitioner Career in Brief

MSN required
certification optional

Cardiology nurse practitioners provide advanced nursing care for cardiology patients. They work regularly with cardiologists and surgeons and may supervise RNs and CNAs. A cardiology NP may work with patients during their initial intake, before and after surgery, and provide ongoing care to patients with heart conditions.

Key skills and responsibilities include:

Key Skills and Responsibilities

  • Assessing patients with symptoms of heart disease
  • Partnering with surgeons and cardiologists on patient care
  • Monitoring treatment for patients with acute heart conditions
  • Assisting during surgeries and providing follow-up care after surgeries
  • Educating patients and their family on cardiac health and healthy lifestyles

Career Traits

  • Encouraging
  • Empathetic
  • Autonomous

Certification Options: Cardiac Nurse Practitioners Level IV Exam (CVNP-BC)

Where Do Cardiac Nurse Practitioners Work?

Most cardiac nurse practitioners work in hospitals or health systems, but they also work in private cardiology offices and in long-term care facilities such as rehabilitation centers or nursing homes.

  • minusHospital or health system

    In a hospital or health system, a cardiology NP often works in a specialty cardiac unit or an ICU. They may supervise cardiac RNs and CNAs, assist in surgeries, and provide care for patients after serious procedures or heart attacks.

  • minusRehabilitation facilities

    In rehabilitation facilities, a cardiac NP cares for patients who are recovering from a serious heart condition. They monitor patients’ conditions, prescribe or adjust medications as needed, advise patients and their family on lifestyle and exercise, and may supervise RNs and CNAs.

  • minusPrivate cardiology offices

    In some states, a cardiology nurse practitioner may manage their own practice, while in others, they may need to work under or in collaboration with a physician. In these settings, a cardiac NP assesses patients’ conditions, orders tests, and prescribes medication and lifestyle changes.

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Why Become a Cardiac Nurse Practitioner?

Working as a cardiology NP is stressful, as you are often working with acutely ill patients. You must also keep current in a rapidly changing field, learning quickly about new medical and technical advances. However, the work of saving lives is professionally and financially rewarding. The median cardiology nurse practitioner salary is $110,000 and the demand for cardiology NPs is high.

Advantages to Becoming an Cardiac Nurse Practitioner

Disadvantages to Becoming a Cardiac Nurse Practitioner

  • x-circleHigh stress, due to acutely ill patients.
  • x-circleHigher risk of lawsuits.
  • x-circleFast pace of change in the field of cardiology.

How to Become a Cardiac Nurse Practitioner

To become a cardiac nurse practitioner, you must first become an RN, then earn an advanced degree (at least an MSN), and pass a certification examination.

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN)

To earn an RN license, you must have at least an ADN degree from an accredited nursing school. However, if you know you want to become a cardiac nurse practitioner, you will need to earn a BSN or find a cardiology NP program that offers a bridge program.

Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam to Receive RN License

Once you’ve earned your degree, you must take the NCLEX-RN examination, a multiple-choice examination that covers nursing practice, communications, tools and technology, and legal and ethical aspects of nursing.

Gain Cardiovascular Nursing Experience

You will typically need two years of nursing experience to earn an MSN degree. Working in a cardiology unit will help you determine if being a cardiology NP is right for you.

Earn a Master’s Degree in Nursing (MSN)

Next, you will need an MSN from an accredited nurse practitioner program. This typically takes two years of full-time study.

Apply for Cardiovascular Nurse Practitioner Certification (CVNP-BC)

To earn certification, you should have at least two years of experience, though you do not necessarily have to have two years of experience as an NP if you worked in cardiology before. The certification examination has 175 questions and can take up to four hours.

How Much Do Cardiac Nurse Practitioners Make?

The median cardiac nurse practitioner salary is $110,000, according to the 2019 AANP Report. According to the BLS, all APRN jobs (not just cardiology nurse practitioner jobs) will grow 45% between 2020 and 2030, much faster than all other occupations.

Nurse practitioner salaries are highest in California, New Jersey, Washington, New York, and Massachusetts, all states with a relatively high cost of living. The New York, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, and Los Angeles metropolitan areas have the highest employment levels of nurse practitioners. (Again, this covers all NPs, not just cardiac NPs.)

Frequently Asked Questions About Cardiac Nurse Practitioners

How long does it take to become a cardiac nurse practitioner?

It takes at least six years of education (four years for a BSN, two years for an MSN) and two years of cardiology nursing experience are recommended for certification. Many MSN programs require or strongly prefer at least two years of nursing experience.

What types of conditions do cardiac nurse practitioners treat?

Cardiac nurse practitioners treat patients with coronary heart disease, heart attacks, heart failure, valve disease, high blood pressure, and genetic heart conditions. Many of these conditions are caused by a mix of genetics, lifestyle, and environment.

What degree is required to become a cardiac nurse practitioner?

You will need at least an MSN to become a cardiac nurse practitioner. If you do not have a BSN, you will have to enroll in a bridge program for your MSN degree. A bridge program takes three to four years, compared to two years for an MSN.

What is the difference between a doctor and a nurse practitioner?

The difference between a doctor and a nurse practitioner is in education, residency experience, and the scope of practice that the professional license allows. A physician has more education and must complete a residency, and after qualifying, has a broader scope of practice.

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Portrait of Shrilekha Deshaies, MSN, CCRN, RN

Shrilekha Deshaies, MSN, CCRN, RN

Shri Deshaies is a nurse educator with over 20 years of experience teaching in hospital, nursing school, and community settings. Deshaies’ clinical area of expertise is critical care nursing and she is a certified critical care nurse. She has worked in various surgical ICUs throughout her career, including cardiovascular, trauma, and neurosurgery.

Shri Deshaies is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network. Learn more about our review partners here.


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