Cardiac Nurse: Career Summary, Employment Outlook, and Education Requirements
Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in cardiac nursing. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and licensure information. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What is a Cardiac Nurse?
Cardiac nurses are registered nurses or nurse practitioners who specialize in the field of heart health care. They provide nursing care for patients with cardiovascular diseases. This care includes recording patients' symptoms, keeping track of patient records, administering medications and working with patients' families. Doctors may also ask for assistance performing cardiovascular tests, analyzing results and making diagnoses. The following chart gives you an overview of the educational background and credentials needed for this position as well as information about job outlook and salary potential.
|Cardiac Care Nurse||Cardiovascular Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner|
|Degree Required||Bachelor's degree||Master's or doctoral degree|
|Education Field of Study||Nursing||Nursing|
|Key Responsibilities||Provide nursing care to heart patients; maintain patient records; administer medication and treatments||Perform physical examinations; order diagnostic tests and make diagnosis; prescribe medications and treatment with doctor's approval; assist physicians with medical procedures|
|Licensure and/or Certification||Registered nurse (RN) licensure is required; board certification in a number of cardiac specialties is available||RN licensure is required; board certification in a number of cardiac specialties is available|
|Job Growth (2014-2024)||16% for all registered nurses*||35% for all nurse practitioners*|
|Median Salary (2016)||$66,466**||$93,788**|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com
What Would I Do as a Cardiac Nurse?
A cardiac nurse is a registered nurse (RN) who specializes in treating patients with heart disease and other heart-related medical conditions. This also includes providing care to heart surgery patients. As a cardiac nurse, your responsibilities would involve medical, surgical and administrative activities. Your medical duties would include assisting physicians during the examination of patients and administering medications, whereas surgical responsibilities may include monitoring vital signs. Administrative duties may include maintaining patient records, providing patient education and managing support staff.
As a cardiovascular advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP), your duties may include performing physical examinations, making diagnoses and prescribing medications and treatment for heart-related health issues. You may also administer prescribed therapeutic procedures or perform diagnostic testing as well as assist physicians during these procedures.
What Is the Job Outlook?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the job growth for registered nurses was projected to increase 16% from 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov). As of 2016, PayScale.com reported that the median annual salary of a cardiac care nurse was $66,466. Salaries are often contingent on factors such as your experience and your employer. As a cardiac nurse, you could work in a variety of environments, such as hospitals, cardiac rehabilitation centers and cardiologists' offices.
Cardiovascular advanced registered nurse practitioners' median annual salary was $93,788, according to the 2016 data compiled by PayScale.com, while job growth for nurse practitioners was expected to increase by 35% between 2014 to 2024, according to the BLS.
What Education Do I Need?
You would first need to obtain a bachelor's degree in nursing to become an RN. You would receive broad-based training in patient care through clinical and classroom instruction. In addition to liberal arts courses, such as English and social studies, you would have life science coursework in disciplines such as pharmacology, chemistry, anatomy, bacteriology and physiology. Baccalaureate programs are usually four years. You can then seek employment in a hospital cardiac care unit or provide cardiac care in other medical settings.
As an advanced practice cardiovascular nurse practitioner, you would need to earn a graduate degree. It is through this level of training that you would begin targeted coursework in cardiovascular care. This can include obtaining a master's degree and participating in an internship and fellowship. Doctorate programs are also available. Your coursework would consist of clinical and classroom studies in disciplines, such as advanced pathophysiology, pharmacology and cardiac critical care. Through graduate studies and fellowship programs, you would acquire a working knowledge of subjects, such as cardiac risk and assessment, advanced heart failure and device therapy, anticoagulation and cardiac arrhythmias.
Will I Need a License or Certification?
The BLS reports that you need a license to practice health care as an RN in every U.S. state, territory and the District of Columbia (www.bls.gov). Licensing is given upon passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). You must also adhere to state licensure requirements, which vary. Contact the nursing board of your state for more information. Board certification in several cardiac specialties is available through American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Cardiac nursing credentials are a showing of your professional competence and skill, which employers may find desirable.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
There are various kinds of nurses who practice different specializations. These may include addiction nurses who provide nursing care for patients recovering from addiction, critical care nurses who monitor and provide care for patients who have suffered from critical injuries or illnesses, and nephrology nurses that provide care for patients with kidney problems. Aside from RNs and nurse practitioners, individuals may also perform basic nursing care under the supervision of an RN or doctor as licensed practical nurses (LPNs) or licensed vocational nurses (LVNs). Alternatively, a career as a physician assistant (PA) allows individuals to diagnose and treat patients under the guidance of a doctor.
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