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How to Become a Cardiac Nurse Specialist: A Specialized Medical Role in Heart Health

A cardiac nurse specialist is a specialized field in nursing that you perhaps didn’t realize existed when everything to do with the heart once centered on cardiologists. But heart patients frequently need different evaluations and monitoring that cardiologists don’t typically do in a work day. It’s a reason cardiac nurse specialists exist, because they do many practical heart health procedures that doctors don’t have time to do.

Your should never underestimate how important this career is because it ultimately saves lives, sometimes during emergencies. These nurses also prevent heart issues as well as caring for those who’ve already had heart attacks and still recovering. As part of the job, cardiac nurses frequently work alongside cardiologists to bring more comprehensive cardiac care.

Because this career has everything to do with the heart, you can see it’s not a job consisting of simple tasks. Education requirements are extensive, including gaining national certifications from prestigious medical organizations.

What is Expected of a Cardiac Nurse Specialist?

You’ll work with patients of every age range since heart disease unfortunately isn’t exclusive to those just older. Patient ages go from the very young on up to those over the century mark. Some of these patients may simply need heart tests for determining they don’t have a heart issue. In this case, giving stress tests is usually common and the most basic.

In more complex medical territory, you’ll monitor those with cardiac and vascular disease. This could be those with heart failure, arrhythmia, or those with more complex heart issues. Testing goes far beyond just giving stress tests and into the realm of echocardiograms, and even angiograms. These look deeper into the heart and scope out sometimes elusive heart conditions the patient doesn’t always realize he or she has.

For existing heart patients, the cardiac nurse specialist makes sure any heart device is working correctly. It means checking pacemakers and defibrillators so they continue to function correctly and have no issues while patients are out in a public place.

Since these nurses have expert cardiology knowledge, they’re also given the freedom to interpret certain heart tests. Then they work with the patient on proper treatments, which includes diet and exercise programs.

Cardiac Nurse SpecialistGaining the Proper Education

When getting educated, it goes beyond a two-year associate degree that many nursing careers require. You’ll need a graduate-level degree, and preferably a master’s degree in nursing first. Many medical organizations that hire cardiac nurses prefer you have a post-master’s degree in some level of cardiology in order to take on the biggest medical challenges.

Keep in mind that many of the courses you’ll take when studying go into areas you possibly didn’t think would apply. It includes topics like physiology, pharmacology, project planning, and prevention. All of these are just some of the categories you’ll deal with when treating heart conditions.

Afterward, you can specialize in a specific area of heart studies, including heart failure, or working with those in intensive care. In the latter, you’ll learn how to treat patients who’ve had heart surgeries and getting them back on their feet.

Certification and Salary Prospects

Many cardiac nurses seek national certifications for more prestige and better job opportunities. The American Association of Critical Care Nurses has a couple of certification courses that go into the realm of cardiac medicine and surgery. You also have other certification courses that focus on vascular training, plus heart failure.

All of these are usually done on a computer for your convenience in specific locations throughout the United States. Remember, though, that certifications need updating periodically.

Once you take the national exam and gain certification, you can expect to make close to $90,000 a year, plus extensive bonuses from profit-sharing. You can see why many cardiac nurses often cite significant job satisfaction as a result, especially when saving lives in the process.

Contact us here at Nursing Examiner to find out more about nursing careers and what’s required to succeed.