The Cardiac Nurse Specialist – The Heart of Nursing
The cardiac nurse specialist is an advanced degree professional nurse. These nurses possess the empathy and compassion of a trained nurse as well as advanced specialized training in cardiac care. Most hospital’s cardiac care units are staffed by these nurses who are trained to deliver extraordinary care to patients with acute or chronic heart conditions. Of all the organs in the body, the heart is counted among the most critical and the right care delivered by skilled nurses can improve a patient’s outcome.
Cardiac Nurse Specialist Job Description & Scope of Practice
The cardiac nurse specialist will provide routine care and monitoring to patients who have heart conditions. This well trained RN may assist the cardiologist in specialized cardiac procedures such as necessary. Because, many of the patients the cardiac nurse specialist sees on a daily basis are at risk this professional is trained to react in case of a cardiac emergency. They monitor stress tests, assure that physician protocols are followed and are help the family and patient better understand the need for compliance with medication and lifestyle changes.
How to Become a Cardiac Nurse Specialist
A nursing degree from an accredited nursing school is a requirement for any nurse planning to enter cardiac care. While an RN with an associate or bachelor degree in nursing can work in cardiac units, most acute and critical care cardiac facilities require an advanced degree and certification for Cardiac Nurse Specialists. The advanced degree and certification allow the cardiac nurse to assist in more challenging procedures and possibly move into supervisory or administrative positions.
Cardiac Nurse Specialist Educational Requirements, Certification and Schooling Programs
The cardiac nurse is a well paid and highly respected member of the nursing team. As such there are stringent requirements for schooling and certification as the patient’s heart is literally in their hands. What follows are some of the most common requirements for the job of Cardiac Nurse Specialist.
- High School diploma or GED
- Successfully accepted and entering an accredited four year nursing program. An RN with an associate degree can often take an accelerated path to a four year Bachelor degree.
- Successful acceptance into and completion of a Master Program for the Cardiac Clinical Nurse Specialist.
- The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers certification accredited by the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification (ABSNC). The ANCC offers two distinctions including Cardiac Rehabilitation Nurse and Cardiac Vascular Nurse. Nurses who successfully complete an examination will earn the Registered Nurse-Board Certified (RN-BC) credential. The exam takes approximately three hours to complete and is offered at several Computer-Based Testing Centers (CBT). A minimum of 2000 hours of clinical experience is required before the nurse is allowed to sit for this advanced examination. Certification is not required for cardiac nurses, but those with certifications are held in high regard.
Cardiac Nurse Specialist Salary and Career Outlook
The demand for nurses is growing throughout the country. Baby boomers are reaching retirement age and expect to live long healthy lives. The cardiac nurse specialist is part of the team that can help these aging individuals remain active and healthy.
The demand for nurses will continue to grow throughout the next 8 years at a rate of 21 to 35%. As medicine and lifesaving techniques improve the expertise required of physicians and nurses grow as well. Many nurses are choosing to specialize in order to advance their career prospects and improve their salaries.
The average cardiac nurse specialist earns from $60,000 and upward, depending upon the employment setting and the location.