By deciding to pursue a career in cardiac nursing, you can offer many benefits to cardiac patients improve their health, reduce their risk of having a recurring cardiac event, and potentially saving their life. Do you feel you can have an impact on the lives of cardiac patients? Fantastic! This guide will explain what a cardiac nurse does and how to become one. Let us get this guide rolling!

Become a Cardiac Nurse Guide
How to Become a Cardiac Nurse Guide

Quick Summary

The cardiac nurse or (heart nurse) is a highly specialized nurse within the field of nursing. The cardiovascular nurse is a registered nurse who has a nursing specialty of working with acute patients that suffer from cardiovascular conditions.

A cardiac nurse works collaboratively with a cardiologist, heart team specialists, or a cardiovascular surgeon and follows a physician-approved patient plan of care to help patients manage and recover from cardiac events.

Recommended Degree Level: Bachelor Degree in Science with a concentration in Nursing (BSN)

License required: Registered Nurse (RN) License

Certification Available: Cardiac-Vascular Nursing certification is available from the American Nurses Credentialing (ANCC). Or you can obtain certification from Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) for the critical care nurses certification.

How much does a Cardiovascular Nurse make? The Median annual salary is $67,490 annually.

Table of Contents

What does a Cardiovascular Nurse do?

The goal as a cardiac nurse is improving patients’ health and reduce their risk of experiencing a new cardiac event. Cardiac nurses educate patients about their disease along with counseling patients on recognizing the signs and symptoms of heart failure. As a cardiac nurse, you will provide a full range of services for patients that suffer from cardiovascular health-related issues.

The patients you will treat will suffer from cardiovascular conditions or will be recovering from a cardiac event. As a cardiac nurse, you must become familiar with common cardiovascular diseases and how best to manage cardiovascular disorders.

Your experience and training will often dictate where you will work coupled with what level of care you provide. Cardiac nurses with more experience may work with critically ill patients and use specialized interventions to help monitor patients with congestive heart failure.

Some cardiac intensive care (ICU) nurses work with patients that have undergone open-heart surgery to provide post-operative patient care. Other cardiac nurses may be part of a medical team that is dedicated to using the latest technology and advances to help diagnose future and current patient diseases.

Some specialty cardiac units are more demanding and complex than other units are. If you work in a hospital with hospitalized cardiac patients, some patients will need around-the-clock monitoring after they may have received a pacemaker or implantable device.

There are different types of heart nurse sub-specialties, and they can work in separate units of a hospital such as intensive care, cardiac treatment recovery, operating rooms, or cardiac intensive care units.

Cardiac Nurse Studies

Cardiac Nurse Responsibilities – Job Responsibilities

Cardiac Nurse Responsibilities Job Responsibilities include:

Establish a Nursing Care Plan for Cardiac Patients – making a cardiac plan of care that can improve the patient’s current prognosis. Cardiac nurses may make this plan based on their current cardiac risk factors by recommending therapeutic lifestyle changes. This program will need approval by a physician.

Understand the use of Diagnostic Tools – You will need to assess the patient’s Current Health Status Your responsibilities will also include learning how to perform and interpret diagnostic tools. If you have an interest in this career, then start learning to familiarize yourself now.

As a nursing student, the tools you will want to know really get to know is the electrocardiogram (EKG) machine. This device is used to monitor the patients’ blood pressure and heart rate. You will use other test equipment to check the patient’s lungs capacity and heart functions and more.

Maintain Patient Records – Your job may include keeping the patients file up to date and accurate. You will include in the patient’s file what medications the patient is taking, their current recovery state, a recommendation if the patient’s plan of care may need adjusting based on their current health status.

Phone Duties – There will be plenty of days where patients are calling in needing their prescription refilled and changed. It is best to familiarize yourself with heart medications and their side effects and potential reactions. Part of your duties will include answering patient calls returning calls.

Patient Counseling – You will provide prevention techniques and recommended lifestyle changes to empower the patient. This can be one of your toughest challenges is to help educate the patients because many don’t realize how important it is to make the necessary lifestyle changes to prevent a relapse of their cardiac condition. You will provide this education and counseling to patients as well as to their families.

Follow-Up Care– The patients will need ongoing care your job will be to follow up with patients. Your job will require you to be able to keep the physician you work with a regular update.

Cardiac Nurses Also Provide Care to Patients in Their Home Environment

Cardiac nurses can sometimes provide treatment for chronically or terminally ill patients within their home setting. The nursing treatment promotes patient healing and recovery for patients who have a difficult time traveling.  Cardiac nurses make home-care visits for patients that have continued needs or long-term health problems.

Such patients require specialized care from cardiac nurses who possess active rehabilitation, home care, care management, and strong assessment skills. Some cardiac nurse treatments may include wound care management or specialized cardiac therapies.

Educating patients are vital towards patient recovery

Cardiac nurses provide nurse-managed care. Nurse-managed care includes educating patients about the importance of healthy lifestyle choices, healthier diet selections that include low-salt diets with the importance of exercising.

Additionally, they emphasize the importance of patients taking their prescribed medications on a regular and timely basis. Cardiac nurses possess strong medical backgrounds in leading cardiovascular diseases in conjunction with best ways for treating them.

Cardiac Nurse Education

What Education will I need to be a Cardiac Care Nurse?

To become a cardiac nurse you will need postsecondary education, which includes a 4-year bachelor’s degree in the field of nursing. Once you have your BSN, you will be eligible to apply and take your nursing exam to become a Registered Nurse (RN) and start working to gain experience as a nurse.

Next, you will need to apply and take the cardiac certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (AACN). The AACN requires you to have at least two years of practice as an RN. They additionally need 2,000 clinical hours in the cardiac nursing area and have at least 30 hours of continuing education units (CEU).

Career Outlook

The Centers for Disease Control has reported heart disease is the number one disease both men and women fall victim to. Additionally, the CDC website states 1 in 4 people die every year of heart disease. Many people that have cardiac conditions are heavy users of healthcare. This creates a huge demand and a real need for experienced cardiac nurses to help victims who suffer from cardiovascular conditions.

The outlook for all nurses appears bright according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Especially those going into specialty nursing positions such as Cardiac nursing.

Check out our other Nursing School Guides.