What Are the Duties of a Cardiac Care Nurse?

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Cardiac care nurses play a vital role in the care and rehabilitation of heart patients in a hospital setting. As trained medical professionals, cardiac care nurses usually work under the direct supervision of a licensed cardiologist and undergo additional training beyond what is required for regular floor duty nurses.

About Cardiac Care Nurses

  • Professional cardiac care nurses provide specialized and advanced medical care for patients suffering from various types of heart problems or problems in the cardiovascular area. Patients who are hospitalized due to life-threatening ailments such as coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, angina, heart dysrhythmia and myocardial infarction most always require the more advanced skills of a cardiac care nurse rather than those of a regular registered nurse.

Duties

  • Beyond being skilled in basic life support, cardiac care nurses are also highly trained in a variety of advanced cardiac life support procedures. As a cardiac nurse, you may be required to use a defibrillator on a heart patient (a defibrillator is an electronic machine that gives an electrical shock to a patient's heart. Cardiac care nurses also administer medications and are often required to put in intravenous (IV) lines when deemed necessary by a physician.

Additional Duties

  • A cardiac care nurse frequently performs tests known as electrocardiograms on patients. The procedure, also known as an EKG or ECG, requires the use of electrodes that are placed in specific areas on the patient's body. It is used to measure the electric activity of a patient's heart and checks for any irregular electrical activity. Cardiac care nurses monitor this output and notify superiors of any change. In addition, cardiac care nurses also take vital signs and record output from catheters. These professionals also provide emotional support for patients to help alleviate any stress they may have.

Areas of Work

  • Following any type of cardiovascular surgery or procedure, cardiac care nurses who work in surgical units must carefully monitor patients and provide accurate health assessments to the attending cardiologist. Postoperative care of a patient may involve performing a stress test evaluation to determine how the patient is progressing following surgery. Other cardiac care nurses may work with critically ill patients in an intensive care unit (ICU), a special coronary care unit (CCU), a cardiac rehabilitation facility or a cardiac catheterization lab.

Requirements

  • To work as a cardiac care nurse, you must obtain additional training. You must be a registered nurse (RN) and hold at least a two-year associate's degree. Some states and employers may also require further certification for cardiac care nurses, which can be obtained through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Prior to certification testing, cardiac care nursing candidates must complete at least two years of job experience as an RN and have a minimum of 2,000 hours in cardiovascular nursing and 30 hours of continuing education.

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