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Cardiac care nurses, or cardiovascular nurses, play an important role in healthcare. They specialize in caring for patients that suffer from conditions such as heart attacks or chronic heart disease. These nurses not only have to be experts on cardiovascular function, but they must also be knowledgeable about any conditions resulting from heart disease or malfunction and know how to help patients understand their conditions. Experience is a definite advantage in cardiovascular nursing, as these nurses often care for patients facing life or death situations, but it is never too early or late to pursue an career in this field.
Typical Work Environment
Cardiac care nurses work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes. Within the hospital setting, cardiac care nurses are likely to work in units such as the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), the Intensive Coronary Care Unit (ICCU), and telemetry. These nurses also care for patients recovering from heart surgeries, and in some cases may assist with the operations. The work environments of cardiovascular nurses are likely to be fast-paced and to require close monitoring of patients.
Average Salary for a Cardiac Care Nurse
The salaries of cardiovascular nurses vary based on demographics, employer, and experience level. The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics states that, in 2010, the median salary for registered nurses was $64,690 per year. The employment outlook for registered nurses in general is excellent, and demand for nurses specialized in cardiac care is likely to be high due to increasing numbers of people suffering from heart disease and related conditions.
An individual wishing to become a cardiac care nurse must complete an accredited RN program to earn a diploma, associate's degree, or bachelor's degree in nursing. Following graduation, he or she must pass the NCLEX-RN and become licensed to practice. According to Johnson & Johnson, one must get a minimum of 1 year or 2,000 hours of cardiovascular nursing experience and complete 30 hours of continuing education before he or she can take the Cardiac Care Certification Exam to earn the Registered Nurse - Board Certified (RN-BC) . This certification must be renewed every 5 years.
Additional Skills Needed
These nurses must be skilled in administering and reading heart-related tests, such as electrocardiograms and stress tests. They must be knowledgeable about the needs of intensive or critical care patients. In addition, they must be skilled in responding to cardiac emergencies.