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Telemetry Nurse

Telemetry nurses care for patients with cardiac conditions and those who have had a cardiac procedure or surgery that telemetry is needed to monitor their cardiac rhythm. Some patients have other medical needs as well. Patients are usually in a step-down unit from the intensive care unit (ICU), on a telemetry floor, or progressive care unit.

Telemetry nurses work to provide bedside care but also use technology to monitor and interpret their patient’s EKG rhythm, track vital signs, and oxygen levels. They also need to pay attention to their patients’ psychological and emotional needs, which can affect a person’s heart function.


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.

Telemetry nurses must be proficient at interpreting electrocardiograms (EKG, ECG).

How to advance/career pathway

Some telemetry nurses start as Med-Surg nurses who train to become Telemetry nurses while others begin as New Grads. 

  

Telemetry nurses must be both BCLS and ACLS certified and become very skilled at setting up and reading EKGs so that they can intervene immediately to assist the patient. 

 

You can become a Certified Progressive Care Nurse (PCCN), Cardiac Medicine certified (CMC) or CCRN (Adult) after completing at least 1,750 hours of patient care in a critical care setting through the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN).

 

With work experience, some telemetry nurses branch into ER or Critical Care nursing as well as other areas such as sleep clinics or cardiac home monitoring care. 

 

Alternatively, you may decide to get your MSN degree with a cardiovascular focus or become a Cardio-Vascular Nurse Practitioner (CVNP).

RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Cardio-vascular patient assessment and telemetry monitoring 
  • EKG rhythm recognition and quick intervention for life-threatening arrhythmias
  • Administer cardiac medications either IV or orally
  • Track cardiac-related labs and other study results 
  • Work with the cardiovascular team of cardiologists and surgeons

MOST COMMON CASES

  • Hypertension
  • Pacemaker, Stent insertions, and Angioplasties
  • Cardio-vascular surgeries
  • Renal failure
  • Heart failure
  • COPD
  • Stroke

How to become a

Telemetry Nurse

  1. Complete an ADN or BSN program in nursing
  2. Pass the NCLEX-RN exam and apply for your RN license
  3. Apply to work on a Telemetry unit either as a new grad or after a year of Med-Surg experience
  4. Get ACLS certified and take classes on electrocardiogram interpretation
  5. Apply for an AACN advanced certification after meeting prerequisites

Specialty Groups and Communities

National Telemetry Association 

  • Mission: “[T]o promote and enhance consumer health and safety by establishing and maintaining high standards of professional practice excellence through certification and renewal for telemetry technicians who maintain lead monitoring of cardiac rhythms for acutely- and critically-ill patients in ICU, CCU or Step Down Units.”
  • Cost: $129-429 certification fee.
  • Perks: An NTA certification will allow you to monitor important health vitals such as blood pressure, heart rate and heart rhythm from the hospital or a remote location on special telemetry equipment; interpret data for critically-ill or high-risk patients in or just out of ICU; establish that you have the skills necessary to provide quality care to your most critical patients; be eligible to receive greater job opportunities like higher pay and more responsibility; and, more.

American Association of Critical Care Nurses 

  • Mission: “Patients and their families rely on nurses at the most vulnerable times of their lives. Acute care and critical care nurses rely on AACN for expert knowledge and the influence to fulfill their promise to patients and their families. AACN drives excellence because nothing less is acceptable.”
  • Cost: $52-78, annually.
  • Perks: Access to unlimited free CEs keep your knowledge – and your license – up to date, AACN’s award-winning journals put the latest news and views at your fingertips, exclusive access to clinical toolkits and evidence-based resources supports optimal patient outcomes, innovative online learning programs hone your skills and advance your career, and discounts for certification, conferences and online products help you maintain your edge, and more.

Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses

  • Mission: “The Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) is the only specialty nursing organization dedicated to the practice of medical-surgical nursing. A dynamic community of more than 13,000 medical-surgical nurses, we're committed to quality patient care through professional development, certification, scholarship, and advocacy.”
  • Cost: $70-101, annually, depending on location and membership status.
  • Perks: Access to a free subscription to MEDSURG Nursing journal, MED-SURG Magazine, at least 15 free Continuing Nurse Education credits per year, and more.

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

  • Can be stressful as cardiac patients may unexpectedly do poorly and need immediate attention
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Personality Traits

  • Critical thinker and interest in technology tools
  • Flexible and calm in unpredictable situations
  • Able to multitask and prioritize 
  • Interest in the mechanics of cardiac function and interpreting EKGs
  • Enjoys patient teaching of cardiac conditions
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Average Salary

Telemetry nurses typically make between $53k - $101k, with a median salary of $63,077. For the most up-to-date salary information, check out Salary Explorer.

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Certifications

AACN certifications

  • Progressive Care Nursing Certification (PCCN) 
  • Cardiac Medicine Certification (CMC)  
  • Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN: Adult)
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Work Setting

Mostly in hospital step-down units, but can also work in clinics or cardiac home care monitoring

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