If you are exploring areas of nursing specialization, you may be wondering how you become a cardiac nurse. The prevalence of cardiac problems in the United States makes this a very important specialization. Cardiac nurses can play a key role in diagnosing and helping to treat patients suffering from heart issues. They can also help patients learn more about maintaining a healthy lifestyle and preventing cardiac problems.
Like any other nursing specialty, to become a cardiac nurse you must first become a registered nurse (RN). While there is more than one acceptable path to becoming an RN, most potential nurses begin by either obtaining a two year associate’s degree in nursing or a four year bachelor’s degree in nursing. Whichever level of education you complete, you will need to go on and take the national licensing exam for nurses (called the NCLEX-RN). Once you have passed the exam, you are qualified to work as an RN.
If you have an interest in pursuing work as a cardiac nurse, it will be good to get as much experience with cardiac patients as you can, according to the Houston Chronicle. This might be in a doctor’s office or in a hospital or clinical setting. You will need to complete a minimum of 2,000 hours of cardiac related nursing and take continuing education courses for 30 hours related to cardiac nursing before you can sit for the certification exam that you must pass. Once you have the credential of a cardiac nurse, you will need to stay abreast of the field and its requirements because you will need to renew your credential every five years. The American Nursing Credentialing Center (ANCC) is a good place to start your research into initial or ongoing requirements.
Roles and Duties
Cardiac nurses play a number of important roles for cardiac patients. Sometimes they act as educators who help patients and their families understand the issues surrounding heart disease and its treatment. If a patient does not yet have heart disease, but is at risk for such disease, the educating role can be especially important since nurses and doctors can help patients learn to live a heart healthier lifestyle and prevent significant problems later. Nurses can also play a role in helping doctors to diagnose heart ailments. Their duties may include things such as giving stress tests, checking vital signs, giving medication, helping patients get ready for heart surgery, or monitoring them after surgery.
Related Resource: Hospice Nurse
While many cardiac nurses are RNs, you can also specialize in cardiac nursing as an advanced practice nurse (APRN). If you go on for a graduate degree and become a nurse practitioner, cardiac care is one of the many areas of specialization you can pursue. As either a cardiac nurse or cardiac nurse practitioner, you can be sure of playing a significant role in the life of patients at risk or suffering from heart disease. If that sounds like a fulfilling task, then it might be worth your while to further explore how to become a cardiac nurse.