Most often, nurses have chosen their career path because of their desire to help people. So it comes as no surprise that many nurses bounce around from field to field in an effort to put their skills to work where they’re needed most.
The cardiac care unit is one of those fields with a growing need for nurses. What does a cardiac nurse do, exactly, and could it be your next career move?
Let’s find out. In this article, we cover the basic duties of a cardiac care nurse, what’s required to become one, and where you’re most likely to find a job.
Table of Contents
- What Is a Cardiac Nurse?
- What Are the Duties of a Cardiac Nurse?
- How To Become a Cardiac Nurse: Sought-After Skills You’ll Want To Have
- Where Do Cardiac Nurses Work?
- How Much Do Cardiac Care Nurses Make?
- What Does a Cardiac Nurse Do on the Road? Learn More — Get Pronto Today
What Is a Cardiac Nurse?
Choosing a career as a cardiac nurse is no small decision. Cardiac nurses work under cardiologists, and are responsible for a number of tasks required to treat acute heart failure, like cardiac arrest, and are required to use tools like defibrillators.
Cardiac nurses also assist surgeons with heart surgery for patients with both acute and chronic heart conditions. Patients with chronic conditions may also require monitoring, assessments, cardiac life support, and catheterization.
With Trusted Nurse Staffing, cardiac nurses have a world of opportunity. We’re always posting job opportunities for cardiac nurses who are interested in travel nursing.
Check out our listings on Pronto and you might just find the perfect cardiac nursing position for you!
What Are the Duties of a Cardiac Nurse?
A cardiac nurse specializes in the care of patients with heart-related conditions and diseases. They play a crucial role in assisting patients with cardiovascular issues and promoting heart health. Their responsibilities can vary depending on the healthcare setting and the specific needs of the patients.
#1: Patient Assessment
Cardiac nurses assess patients’ medical histories, symptoms, and current conditions to determine their cardiac health status. They might perform physical exams, review diagnostic tests, and gather relevant information to create a comprehensive patient profile.
#2: Medical Administration
Cardiac nurses often administer medications prescribed by physicians, including medications for managing blood pressure, heart rhythm, and other cardiac-related issues. They monitor patients for any adverse reactions or side effects and report any issues to cardiologists and specialists for review.
#3: Monitoring Vital Signs
Cardiac nurses closely monitor patients’ vital signs, such as heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, and respiratory rate.
Any significant changes can indicate potential cardiac complications, making this a critical duty for cardiac care nurses.
#4: Electrocardiogram (ECG) Interpretation
They might perform and interpret ECGs to monitor heart rhythm and detect any abnormalities or irregularities. This information helps doctors in diagnosing and treating heart conditions.
#5: Patient Education
Educating patients and their families about heart health, lifestyle modifications, medication management, and self-care is a crucial aspect of a cardiac nurse’s role. They provide information on diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes to help prevent further heart issues.
#6: Cardiac Procedures Support
Cardiac nurses assist during various cardiac procedures and interventions, such as:
- Cardiac catheterization
- Pacemaker implantation
- Open-heart surgeries
They provide pre-operative and post-operative care while closely monitoring patients’ conditions throughout the process.
#7: Emergency Response
In cardiac emergencies, such as heart attacks or cardiac arrests, cardiac nurses are trained to respond quickly and provide life-saving interventions, including CPR and defibrillation.
If a fast-paced work environment is what you crave, cardiac nursing might be the right field for you!
Cardiac nurses work closely with other members of the healthcare team, including cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, nurse practitioners, and other specialized nurses, to provide comprehensive care to patients.
Communication skills are essential to being a cardiac care nurse, as cardiac nurses are often the first point of contact between patients, doctors, and specialists.
#9: Patient Advocacy
Cardiac nurses advocate for patients’ needs, preferences, and concerns within the healthcare system. This includes ensuring patients receive appropriate care, treatment, and information about their condition and treatment options.
Accurate and thorough documentation of patients’ conditions, treatments, and responses to interventions is essential for maintaining a patient’s medical history and facilitating effective communication among healthcare providers. Cardiac nurses must be thorough and accurate to ensure that patients receive the best care possible.
#11: Research and Education
Some cardiac nurses may also be involved in research related to cardiovascular health and contribute to advancements in cardiac care practices. They might also participate in educational programs for fellow nurses, patients, and the community to promote heart health awareness.
How To Become a Cardiac Nurse: Sought-After Skills You’ll Want To Have
Being a good cardiac care nurse requires more than education, it requires soft skills as well. There are the must-have basic requirements as well as a few transferable skills that might help make your job search as a cardiac care nurse much easier.
To improve your chances of becoming a cardiac nurse, you’ll want to consider achieving one or more of the following certifications:
- The CMC (Adult Cardiac Medicine Certification) or the CSC (Adult Cardiac Surgery Certification), offered by The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses
- Cardiac Rehabilitation Nursing Certification or the Cardiac Vascular Nursing Certification, offered by the ANCC (American Nurses Credentialing Center)
- Certification in acute cardiology care, non-acute cardiology care, and catheterization laboratory nursing, offered by the American Board of Cardiovascular Medicine (ABCM)
Nurses gain a plethora of skills and experience throughout their careers. Some of the skills and experience that may be considered especially valuable in cardiac nursing include:
- Acute care
- Patient care
- Life support
- Critical care
- Treatment planning
- Catheterization Laboratory
- Advanced cardiac life support (ACLS)
Nursing isn’t limited to medical expertise and certifications. Nurses wear many hats and are often expected to excel in other areas, such as:
- Physical ability
- Research and planning
- Critical thinking
- Computer literacy
- Organization and time management
Where Do Cardiac Nurses Work?
As a cardiac nurse, you’ll have many options to find work in your field. Whether you like the hustle and bustle of an emergency ward, or you prefer the quieter pace of a long-term health facility, job listings are always opening up for a good cardiac nurse.
Some common places where cardiac nurses work include:
- Hospitals: This is the most common setting for cardiac nurses. They can work in different departments within hospitals, such as cardiac intensive care units (ICUs), cardiac step-down units, cardiac catheterization labs, and cardiac surgery units. In these settings, cardiac nurses monitor patients, administer medications, assist with procedures, and provide postoperative care.
- Cardiac Rehabilitation Centers: These centers focus on helping patients recover and improve their heart health after cardiac events or surgeries. Cardiac nurses in this setting develop exercise and lifestyle plans, monitor patients during their rehabilitation sessions, and educate them about managing their heart conditions.
- Clinics and Cardiologist Offices: Cardiac nurses may work in outpatient clinics or private cardiologist offices. They assist in diagnosing heart conditions, performing assessments, conducting screenings, and educating patients about their heart health.
- Home Healthcare: Some cardiac nurses work in home healthcare settings, where they provide care to patients who are recovering from cardiac surgeries or managing chronic heart conditions. They may administer medications, provide wound care, and educate patients and their families about managing their conditions at home.
- Emergency Departments: Cardiac nurses can work in emergency departments, where they assess and triage patients presenting with acute cardiac symptoms. They play a crucial role in identifying and responding to cardiac emergencies.
- Research and Clinical Trials: Some cardiac nurses work in research settings, assisting with clinical trials and studies related to cardiac care. They may help collect data, monitor patients participating in trials, and ensure research protocols are followed.
- Teaching and Education: Cardiac nurses can also work in academic institutions as educators, training future nurses and healthcare professionals in the field of cardiac care.
- Telemedicine and Virtual Care: With the advancement of telemedicine, some cardiac nurses provide remote care and support to patients with heart conditions through virtual platforms.
- Long-Term Care Facilities: Cardiac nurses might work in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, where they care for elderly patients with chronic heart conditions and provide ongoing monitoring and support.
- Community Health Centers: Cardiac nurses may be involved in community outreach and education programs, promoting heart health and preventive measures within the local community.
Depending on where you choose to work and your level of specialization, the specific roles and responsibilities of cardiac nurses can vary.
How Much Do Cardiac Care Nurses Make?
While average salaries for every field of nursing may not be offered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they do provide a glimpse into what you can expect to make as a registered nurse in the U.S.
On average, registered nurses earn $77,600 per year, however, this may be affected by the following factors:
- Hours worked
- Night shift vs. day shift
However, travel nurses can sometimes make considerably more than staff nurses because in addition to their regular salary, they may receive:
- Higher salaries
- Medical benefits
- 401k with matching
- Housing, food, and travel stipends
- And more
According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for a travel nurse is $105,021 — a whopping 26% higher than the average staff nurse’s salary.
What Does a Cardiac Nurse Do on the Road? Learn More — Get Pronto Today
Cardiac nurses who travel are expected to have the same set of skills and expertise as staff nurses but are also required to adapt quickly to new surroundings.
As a travel cardiac nurse with Trusted Nurse Staffing, you may choose from our flexible 6, 8, and 13-week contracts, which means you could be working at as many as eight different locations within a given year.
That’s why we reward our cardiac travel nurses with the highest pay rates in the industry and an extensive list of benefits that might make travel nursing just the career change you’ve been looking for.
For more information, or to view cardiac travel nurse positions, check out our listings on Pronto!