There are many different specialties of nursing, but some aspiring registered nurses find what a cardiovascular nurse does to be particularly rewarding. A cardiovascular nurse is a type of registered nurse (R.N.). These nurses have the specialized skills and knowledge to work with patients with cardiovascular conditions – conditions relating to the heart and blood vessels.

What a Cardiovascular Nurse Does

Cardiovascular nurses, or cardiac nurses, most often work in hospitals. Often, they spend much of their time in settings such as operating theaters, intensive care units (ICU), cardiovascular intensive care units (CVICU), cardiac medical or surgery wards and coronary care units (CCU). They might also be needed in cardiac rehabilitation centers or in clinical research positions.

Often, cardiovascular nurses provide care for patients who have undergone heart surgery, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They may also work with patients who are suspected to have had cardiovascular complications like heart murmurs or blockages and may even prepare patients to undergo heart surgery, the Houston Chronicle reported.

An important part of what a cardiovascular nurse does is administer diagnostic tests and medications. For example, a cardiovascular nurse may perform tests known as electrocardiograms (EKGs or ECGs) to check the activity of your heart. This test can reveal conditions such as heart attack, heart rhythm problems, enlarged heart and other heart abnormalities. Besides providing care to patients directly, cardiovascular nurses often act as the liaison who communicates important medical information from the doctor to the families of cardiac patients. These families are often anxious and upset, so it’s important that cardiovascular nurses have plenty of compassion, emotional stability and communication skills.

How to Become a Cardiovascular Nurse

It takes a good deal of knowledge to do what a cardiovascular nurse does. First, you will need to become an R.N. This requires a college education – most commonly, an associate’s degree, which you can complete in two years, or a bachelor’s degree, which takes closer to four years. It’s important that you earn your degree from an approved nursing program, according to the BLS. Once you finish your nursing degree program, you will need to attain a nursing license from your state. All states require this license to work as a nurse, the BLS reported. Typically, graduates from a nursing degree program must successfully complete the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

To set themselves apart from the competition, aspiring cardiovascular nurses should attain the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Cardiac Nursing Certification. Getting this credential requires candidates to have two years of experience working as a registered nurse and a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical training in the specialty of cardiovascular nursing, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Heart disease is a serious condition, and hospital patients who are suffering from the condition often need a great deal of care. What a cardiovascular nurse does isn’t easy, but their work can make a big difference in the lives of the patients they care for and their families.

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