Jennifer Fink | NursingLink
Do you enjoy delving deeply into a subject? Are you fascinated by the workings of the human heart? Consider a career as a cardiac nurse.
While cardiac nurses focus their practice on one specific body system – the cardiovascular system – cardiac nursing is an extraordinarily diverse specialty. Cardiac nurses can be found on telemetry units, coronary care units (CCUs) and cardiac intensive care units (CICU). They work in cardiac catheterization labs, operating rooms, post-anesthesia care units (PACUs) and cardiac rehabilitation units. Cardiac nurses may also work as patient educators and public health nurses.
Heart disease is the #1 killer of Americans – and stroke, or cerebrovascular disease, is #3 – so the demand for experienced cardiac nurses is likely to remain strong for a long time to come.
The Nitty-Gritty Details
Cardiac nurses develop an encyclopedic knowledge of the heart and vascular system. Cardiac nurses also develop in-depth knowledge of the heart’s electrical system, hemodynamics, common cardiac conditions and cardiac medications.
Cardiac nurses care for patients with a variety of conditions, including heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure and heart dysrythmias. They also care for patients undergoing cardiac bypass surgery, angioplasty, heart valve replacement and pacemaker insertion. Cardiac nurses provide care along the disease continuum. A cardiac nurse may expertly care for a patient complaining of chest pain in the ER before transferring care to another cardiac nurse in the cardiac catheterization lab. Other cardiac nurses may care for the patient before, during and after bypass surgery and in cardiac rehab. Specialized cardiac nurses may also work with the patient post-discharge to help him better understand his disease and any recommended lifestyle or medication modifications.
Some cardiac nurses care for adults exclusively, while others focus their practice on pediatrics.