Purpose and Mission
Cardiac nurses are specialised registered nurses who provide care for patients who have heart and blood vessel diseases. They care for patients of all ages. The geriatric population receives the most care from cardiac nurses, but a few paediatric cardiac nurses further specialise in the care of newborns and children.
The primary responsibilities of cardiac nurses include assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating health care services for patients suffering from genetic problems, myocardial infarctions and vascular conditions. They also work with patients with heart valve problems or abnormal heartbeats or who have fluid buildup and /or high blood pressure. Cardiac patients also frequently have diabetes, respiratory, renal and cognitive problems.
Cardiovascular nurses work closely with doctors to administer prescribed medications and educate patients regarding powerful cardiac drugs.
Cardiac nurses are often employed by hospitals or large clinics. In that case, they may report report to a nursing supervisor or similar mid-level administrator. In smaller clinics, the cardiac nursing staff may be directly supervised by the physicians (cardiologists, cardiac surgeons) on staff.
Many cardiac nurses have notable supervisory responsibilities. Cardiac nurses usually have several years of nursing experience, and a significant percentage move up into management roles or become advanced practiced nurses.
All cardiac nurses are registered nurses (requires a bachelor’s degree). RNs must hold a current Nursing Registration with the AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioners Agency) to be employed as a nurse.
Cardiac nurses work in another area of nursing for a couple of years before additional training and specialisation.
Responsibilities of a Cardiac Nurse
Cardiac nurses work closely with cardiologists and cardiac surgeons to diagnose, treat, and manage problems relating to the cardiovascular system. They also promote preventative measures such as health counseling, screening, and stress tests, as well as cardiovascular disease prevention and management strategies. They also provide care to patients with coronary heart disease and give post-operative care to those recovering from bypass surgery, pacemaker insertion or heart transplants.
Modern cardiac nurses are found in hospital cardiology units, cardiovascular interventional units, and cardiothoracic surgical units. A growing number of cardiac nurses are also needed today in diagnostic, rehabilitative, and long-term care settings.
Some cardiac nurses focus their training on cardiac catheterization to become a cardiac cath lab nurse. Cardiac catheterization labs are most often found in hospital environments, and CCL nurses can work in critical care, emergency care, or acute care.
Other cardiac nurses work in telemetry. Telemetry care nurses monitor a patient’s vital signs with advanced equipment including electrocardiograms. Telemetry nurses typically work closely with CCL nurses, as their job is to provide follow-up monitoring and assessment.
A significant number of cardiac nurses work in electrophysiology labs. These nurses work closely with cardiologists to diagnose the causes of arrhythmias and assist with interventions such as pacemakers, ablation, and medications.
Cardiac nurses are qualified to provide cardiac care to patients across the lifespan, which may include newborns with heart defects or elderly patients with advanced stage heart disease.
Typical professional responsibilities of cardiac nurses include:
Assisting doctors in managing hypertension, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias and other conditions
Evaluating and monitoring heart devices (pacemakers and defibrillators)
Working with patients to undertake stress tests, stress echocardiograms, exercise stress tests, PET/dipyridamole stress tests, and CT coronary angiograms
Undertaking basic physical exams of patients to diagnose chronic and acute cardiac diseases
Working with doctors to interpret laboratory results or cardiac tests
Administering prescribed cardiac medications and other therapies
Educating cardiac patients and their families about nutrition, good health and disease prevention