Nurse Specialties: Cardiovascular Nursing

Cardiovascular nursing, also known as cardiac nursing or cardiac/vascular nursing, is a sub-specialty available to certified Registered Nurses with at least a standard nursing school degree or diploma. Advanced classes in nursing schools are available for students who wish to enter this specialty, but any professional nurse with an RN certification or higher can take the exam to become a cardiovascular nurse. Examination and certification focuses on patient outcomes, patient education, and disease management or prevention. As with other medical specialties, this nursing career is growing in demand and expected to be stable for many years into the future.

What is Cardiovascular Nursing?

Cardiovascular nurses care for patients with a cardiac disorder, disease, and those who have recently had a procedure relating to the cardiovascular system. Nurses in this specialty work under the supervision of a cardiologist and may perform stress tests and other assessments. They also work to closely monitor patients following surgeries and keep a watchful eye on patients with an unstable cardiac condition. Conditions for which cardiovascular nursing may be necessary include heart failure, dysrhythmias, artery diseases, angina, and others.

The American Heart Association is just one of many organizations that work with and support this nursing specialty. The association’s Council on Cardiovascular Nursing contributes to nursing’s biopsychosocial expertise” as it relates to “AHA’s global agenda to promote ideal cardiovascular health, quality of life, and heart healthy lifestyles and environments.”

The Preventative Cardiovascular Nurses Association (PCNA), a partner of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is another such resource for cardiac nurses, offering assistance in preventing cardiovascular diseases. The PCNA focuses on education and professional training that helps specialty nurses to identify, manage, and suggest lifestyle changes that prevent heart diseases.

Nursing School Curriculum for Cardiovascular Nursing

All cardiovascular nurses are required to complete a minimum, registered nursing program at an accredited nursing school. Registered nurses complete two to four years of college, earning an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in nursing. (Some diploma programs are available.) Once a student has completed the program and certified as a Registered Nurse, study and examination for cardiovascular nursing certification can begin. (Many certification exams are provided through the American Board of Nursing Specialties.)

Specialty training requirements for cardiovascular nursing includes:

  • Assessments
  • Diagnoses
  • Planning Care
  • Educating Patients and Families
  • Organization and the Role of Cardiac Nursing

Following certification, cardiac/vascular nurses are required to continue their education by satisfying continued education (CE) credit requirements. CE classes can vary widely for cardiovascular nursing and may include advanced training in cardiac devices (‘pacemakers’), the impact of drugs and chemicals on the heart, and the development of new research relating to existing cardiovascular conditions.

Careers for Nursing School Graduates with Cardiovascular Nursing Specialty

Cardiovascular nursing is an essential part of the healthcare system in many medical settings. Therefore, nurses with this specialty certification may find employment at hospitals with intensive care units, cardiac specialty hospitals, surgical centers, nursing homes, and more. As with all other nursing careers in which an associate’s degree or higher is involved, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts that this industry will continue to expand for many years to come. For reasons related to the economy and changes in healthcare, more doctors are becoming specialists and specialty nurses will continue to be in high demand.

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