Cardiac nurses care and comfort patients who suffer from heart attacks and heart disease. They perform stress tests, administer medication and help patients recover from bypass, pacemaker and angioplasty surgeries. Cardiac nurses work with physicians, surgeons, pharmacists and dietitians in hospitals, specialty heart clinics and outpatient medical facilities across the country.
Duties and Responsibilities
Cardiac nurses are trained to respond to medical emergencies, such as heart attacks and cardiac arrests, and must understand a range of cardiovascular disorders. They need to operate heart monitors, EKG machines and pacemakers and are expected to educate patients on heart disease risk factors and the health benefits of diet and exercise. Cardiac nurses play a pivotal role in the recovery and long-term health of patients with moderate to severe heart diseases.
Registered nurses work part-time or full-time, often in eight- to 12-hour shifts. Cardiac nurses in outpatient facilities and specialty clinics work more stable schedules than those in hospitals. In a hospital setting, cardiac nurses work all times of the day and night, on weekdays, weekends and many holidays. You must be able to handle high levels of stress and be able to think on your feet to assist patients of all ages to be a successful cardiac nurse.
Cardiac nurses must obtain either a two-year associate's or a four-year bachelor's degree and pass the National Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-RN. Although generally not required, many nurses become certified in cardiac care to increase the likelihood of employment and promotions. The American Nurses Credentialing Center offers a certification exam for RNs with two years of experience, 2,000 clinical hours in cardiac care and 30 hours of continuing education classes.
Salary and Employment
In the United States, registered nurses earned an average salary of $69,110 in 2011, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Cardiac nurses in hospitals made $69,810, slightly more than average, while those in specialty medical facilities took home $74,310, according to the BLS. Employment for cardiac nurses and their colleagues in other specialties is predicted by the BLS to grow by 26 percent between 2010 to 2020, nearly double the expected increase for all professions over this period.
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