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Cardiac Care Nurse

Cardiac care nurses care for patients who have cardiac conditions such as CHF, coronary artery disease, and cardiac arrhythmias. More experienced cardiac care nurses, sometimes called cardiovascular nurses, care for patients who have had an MI or cardiac surgery, and need closer monitoring in the CCU or Cardiovascular ICU. Other cardiac care nurses branch into areas such as Cardiac Cath lab, Telemetry, or electrophysiology labs.

Education Requirements

All nurse specialty areas require an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and successfully pass the state’s NCLEX-RN exam. Some hospitals prefer you to have a BSN but may accept an ADN.

How to advance/career pathway

Cardiac care nurses must be BCLS certified but may also need ACLS certification.  


You can apply for a Cardiac Vascular Nursing Certification (RN-BC) after working full time for two years, obtaining over 2,000 hours of clinical care with cardiac patients, completing 30 hours of cardio-vascular nursing continuing education, and passing the ANCC exam. 


You can also advance by getting an MSN degree with a cardiovascular focus or become a Cardio-Vascular Nurse Practitioner (CVNP).

RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Cardio-vascular patient assessment and monitoring 
  • EKG rhythm recognition and skill using a defibrillator
  • Administer cardiac medications either IV or orally
  • Provide post-procedure or post-surgical care 
  • CCU monitoring and intervention for patients post-MI
  • Work with the cardiovascular team of cardiologists and surgeons

MOST COMMON CASES

  • Hypertension
  • Pacemaker implant
  • Stent insertion 
  • Angioplasty
  • Thrombolytic therapy 
  • Heart Valve replacement 
  • Bypass surgery-CABG
  • Other cardio-vascular surgeries

How to become a

Cardiac Care Nurse

  1. Complete an ADN or BSN program in nursing
  2. Pass the NCLEX-RN exam and apply for your RN license
  3. Have one to two years of experience working as an RN
  4. Apply to work in a Cardiac Care unit
  5. Apply for a Cardiac Vascular Nursing Certification (RN-BC) after meeting prerequisites

Specialty Groups and Communities

American Association of Heart Failure Nurses 

  • Mission: “The American Association of Heart Failure Nurses unites professionals, patients and caregivers in the support and advancement of heart failure practice, education and research, thus promoting optimal patient outcomes.”
  • Cost: $85-120, annually, depending on your membership status.
  • Perks: Benefits begin with a discounted registration to attend their annual conference & workshops, free subscription to Heart & Lung – The Journal of Acute & Critical Care, discounted fees to take the Certified Heart Failure Nursing exam, and much more (the full list can be found here)! 

Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing (CVSN)

  • Mission: “The mission of the Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing (CVSN) is to accelerate the discovery, translation and application of knowledge to promote and improve overall cardiovascular health.”
  • Cost: $81-465, annually, depending on your engagement level and membership status.
  • Perks: Opportunities to network, collaborate, learn, better serve your community, receive awards, and have access to support from experienced professionals.

Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association 

  • Mission: PCNA’s mission is “to promote nurses as leaders in cardiovascular disease prevention and management across the lifespan.”
  • Cost: $85-160, annually, depending on your membership option.
  • Perks: Membership confers a $2,000+ value in access to networking and skill-building opportunities.

The Society of Pediatric Cardiovascular Nurses 

  • Mission: The SPCN is the “only international organization dedicated to expanding nursing knowledge and expertise in the care of children and young adults with heart disease.”
  • Cost: $20, annually.
  • Perks: Some benefits of joining the SPCN include information & collaboration, newsletters, a directory of members, research activities, and an annual meeting/education program at the annual American Heart Association Scientific Sessions.

The Pros

  • Develop close relationships with cardiac patients and their families
  • Become an expert in detecting cardiovascular changes and treatments 
  • Work collaboratively with cardiac team physicians and others

The Cons

  • Focus on cardiovascular patients may limit exposure to other medical conditions
  • Stressful since cardiac functioning is so crucial, patients may unexpectedly do poorly
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Personality Traits

  • Strong problem solver 
  • Acts independently
  • Critical thinker and troubleshooter
  • Research interest
  • Calm demeanor with patients and families
  • Interest in the mechanics of cardiac function and desire to learn how to interpret EKGs
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Average Salary

On average, cardiac care nurse salaries in 2020 range from $55,500 to $105,000. For the most up-to-date salary information, check out Salary Explorer.

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Certifications

Cardiac Vascular Nursing Certification (RN-BC) through ANCC 

Cardiovascular Nurse (CVRN-BC) through ABCM 

  • CVRN Level 1: Non-acute care 
  • CVRN Level 2: Acute care 
  • CVRN Level 3: Cath Lab

AACN certifications

  • CMC (Cardiac Medicine Certification) or CSC (Cardiac Surgery Certification) 

AAHFN certification

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Work Setting

Many cardiac care nurses work in hospitals, but they can also work in free-standing cardiovascular clinics and home care. They may also work in less acute settings such as nursing homes, schools, and correctional facilities.

Interested in learning more about what it’s like to be a Cardiac Care Nurse? We spoke to one to find out. Read What Does a Cardiac Care Nurse Do?