Cardiac care nurses specialize in treating patients with diseases and injuries involving the heart and cardiovascular system. Cardiac care nurses often branch off into critical care, in which a patient’s condition is potentially life-threatening, requiring the most vigilant and complex nursing care. They often work in hospital settings, but occasionally work from a patient’s home. Cardiac care nurses also administer heart medications and monitor patients after they have undergone procedures such as heart surgery or coronary angioplasty (a procedure that improves blood flow to the heart by removing blockages). Part of their job involves rehabilitation of the patient after an operation and educating them on heart-healthy habits.
Hospitals that employ cardiac care nurses are typically requiring that they be trained at the bachelor’s level by earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). This is because bachelor’s degrees in nursing provide additional training in critical thinking, communication and leadership and typically expose students to more clinical training than an associate or diploma program, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those who seek a cardiac care nurse position with only an associate degree will need to compensate by having some years of experience in critical cardiac care. Certification will also be important as you go forward in the profession, such as the CMC (Cardiac Medicine Certification) or CSC (Cardiac Surgery Certification).
Cardiac care nurses, if they are certified critical care RNs working in a hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU), earn about $34.19 an hour on average, according to Payscale.com. However, this pay is more typical for someone who has at least two years of experience in the field and for those who have taken the time to get certified. However, many nurses would agree that the most rewarding part of their jobs is doing their part to save lives. As one of the body’s most vital organs, the heart deserves the utmost care, whether its post-op or just managing the appropriate heart meds for a patient.