A cardiovascular nurse is a Registered nurse who tends to patients with heart related ailments. They specifically take care and aid patients suffering from angina, heart diseases, atherosclerosis and congestive heart failure.
They are also involved in patient education on preventable heart complications and heart attacks. Theses nurses are also trained to rehabilitate post- surgery heart patients and how they can change their lifestyle habits for better management of their conditions.
Although it may sound impressive, Cardiac Nurse Specialist education and training takes commitment and dedication. Only those with those ingredients can usually successfully qualify.
Minimum Requirements for Cardiovascular Nurse Education
Prior to taking a specialty, cardiac nurses are usually Registered nurses who have taken advancement in their education. To practice as a cardiac nurse specialist, you must have earned a Master of Science in Nursing with a concentration in cardiovascular nursing concepts.
RNs that already have a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing usually have a direct entry to a MSN. Those RNs who only have an Associate of Science in nursing degree must consider upgrading their education levels to a BSN before enrolling for a specialist nurse training in cardiology.
Cardiac Nurse Specialist Courses
A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a specialty in cardiology has a curriculum that covers topics inherent from cardiac nursing concepts. Like every nurse specialist, you will earn credentials to become an advanced practice RN. The key courses covered as part of the cardiovascular nurse specialist curriculum are:
- Cardiovascular diseases
Nurse trainees are made aware of the different types of cardiac ailments and their preferences to different subsets of patients e.g. the elderly, children and the middle aged.
- Cardiac abnormalities
Future cardiac nurses are taught how to monitor and give projections on the health of cardiac patients. They are trained to learn at what situation cardiac patients are more likely to develop complications.
- Differential diagnosis in cardiac care
Here, nurses are trained on how to accurately diagnose suspected cases of heart ailments. Correct diagnosis is the key to saving lives in cardiac nursing.
- Health risk assessment in cardiac care
Students must learn to predict what conditions puts cardiac patients at higher risks of developing new cases heart attacks. Students are equipped with skills of advising patients to avoid health risks that would make their conditions acute.
- Family education on lifestyle changes
Many cardiac complications like atherosclerosis, congestive heart failure are inherent from lifestyle eating habits and poor nutrition. Students are therefore trained on public health education that would help patients and their families reduce chances of developing heart complications. Good nutrition devoid of bad saturated fatty acids and excessive cholesterol helps mitigate atherosclerosis; a big contributor to congestive heart failure
- Postoperative cardiac patient care
Post-operative rehabilitation is important in the healing process of cardiac patients. Students must learn methods of calming cardiac patients to prevent further shock and heart attack. They are taught patient psychology and how to counsel patients
- Monitoring of vascular readings
Many heart patients are kept under critical care; where respiration is supported by medical equipment. As such, cardiac nurses must learn to monitor vital signs like heartbeat and reading heart supportive machines. Any deviation from the norm should be reported to the doctors in charge
- Critical care and resuscitation techniques
Cardiac patients are prone to acute heart failure and heart attacks. This is a very critical situation and the student nurse must be in the position to give the breath of life when possible. Resuscitation techniques and heart shock-up are therefore key elements of cardiac nurse training
- Clinical practicum
This is part and parcel of every nursing degree program and cardiac nurses are no exception. Most states require a minimum of 600 hours of direct patient-student interaction. However, this requirement differs among any given states.
Duration of Study for Cardiovascular Nurse Specialists
Just like any other specialist nurses, cardiac nurse specialists take a minimum of two years of graduate studies but duration may also differ depending on the training program chosen. Full time programs take less time as compared to part time study programs
The Certification of Cardiac nurses
Cardiac nurse graduates must sit and pass the cardiac nursing specialist exam. This exam is facilitated by the American Nurses Credentialing Center upon which, successful nurses are obtain a license to practice. This license however, must be renewed every five years or according to your states guidelines.