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Cardiac Nursing

Cardiac Nursing

Jennifer Fink | NursingLink

Critical Skills

Think you’ve got what it takes to be a cardiac nurse? Cardiac nurses need:

BLS certification. All cardiac nurses must be certified in basic life support.

ACLS certification. If you’re interested in cardiac nursing, consider taking a course in advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) now. Most healthcare facilities expect cardiac care nurses to obtain ACLS certification within months of employment – and having your certification prior to employment might give you a leg up on the competition.

EKG skills. Cardiac nurses are required to read and interpret 5-lead EKG strips on a regular basis.

• Excellent assessment skills. Cardiac patients’ conditions can change in a matter of seconds. The best cardiac nurses are in tune with the little cues that suggest a patient may be “going bad” – and respond appropriately. Experienced cardiac nurses also know to look at the patient, not just the monitor. A bad EKG could just reflect a bad connection. A patient that looks bad might be in trouble, even if the monitor tracing looks perfectly normal.

• A desire to keep learning. The field of cardiac nursing continually evolves as new meds and treatments are discovered and introduced into practice. Be prepared to adapt your care to reflect the latest evidence-based standards.


Cardiac nurses should be graduates of accredited schools of nursing. Many have previous experience in adult health (often in med-surg or ER), although some graduate nurses move directly into cardiac nursing after graduation.

Cardiac nurses are constantly learning. They must re-certify their BLS and ACLS skills every two years. Additional continuing education classes and modules, offered by organizations such as the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association and colleges, universities and continuing educations providers, help cardiac nurses stay up-to-date on the latest treatments, medications and cardiac care standards.

Certification programs are also available for cardiac nurses. The American Association of Critical Care Nurses offers certification programs in cardiac surgery, cardiac medicine and adult tele-ICU acute/critical care nursing. The American Board of Cardiovascular Medicine and Credentialing provides certification exams for cardiac nurses and nurse practitioners. The American College of Cardiovascular Nurses and the American Nurse Credentialing Center also provide certification courses in cardiac nursing.


According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for Registered Nurses in 2010 was approximately $65, 000. Specialized cardiac nurses may make even more. According to, the average salary for an invasive cardiac nurse in Maryland is $80, 000. The salary for cardiac nurse practitioners is among the highest in clinical nursing. According to cardiac nurse practitioners make between $65, 000 and $90, 000 annually.

Demand for cardiac nurses is predicted to grow by about 20 percent between 2008 and 2018.

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