These specialized nurses typically work in the cardiac care unit of hospitals and treat patients suffering from heart diseases and other heart conditions. Cardiac care nurses are trained in basic life support, advanced life support and various telemetry equipment. If you are interested in a challenging specialty that can possible help you avoid burnout, this may be worth looking into.
Their patients range from all ages, and there is a great deal of opportunity for nurses who wish to specialize in cardiac care. These specialists can be found in emergency rooms, operating rooms, ICUs and anywhere else that specializes in cardiac care. They also instruct their patients on proper preventive measures to ensure there are no repeat visits and to live a long and healthy life.
Cardiac nurses working in Cardiac Care Units (CCU) are highly trained and highly skilled at operating a variety of high tech and specialty equipment. Some of this equipment is as follows:
Cardiac Monitors – These are used to monitor the electrical activity of the heart. Small electrodes with a sticky back are attached to the patient chest and the electrodes attached wires are then plugged into to the monitor to begin recording heart readings.
Arterial Lines – Often called a-lines, these are used to continuously monitor a patients blood pressure.
A-lines are catheters that are inserted into an artery, most often in the wrist, but in some cases the groin or in the bend of the elbow. The monitors for a-lines a very similar to the standard cardiac monitor but have a different wave form on the monitor screen than that of cardiac monitors. Additionally, blood can be drawn from a-line catheters eliminating the need for continued vein punctures.
Swan-Ganz Catheter – The Swan-Ganz catheter, also known as a pulmonary artery catheter is used to monitor and determine how the heart is functioning as well as to determine the amount of fluid filling the heart. This special catheter is inserted and threaded into the heart via one of the large vessels in the neck or upper chest.
Pulse Oximeter – This monitoring device looks similar to a clothes pin and attaches to the patients finger. A smaller version of this device is sometimes used and attaches to the earlobe. The Pulse oximeter monitors the oxygen saturation level in the blood.
Ventilator – More commonly known as a respirator, assists with or totally controls the breathing of patients who cannot breathe on their own. Ventilators regulate the volume, pressure, and flow of patient respiration. In most Intensive care Units, ventilator monitors and their alarms interface with a central monitoring system or information system at the nurse duty station on the floor.
Intraaortic Balloon Pump – The Intraaortic balloon pump is a device that helps reduce the heart’s workload and helps regulate the blood flow to the coronary arteries for patients with such ailments like unstable angina, myocardial infarction (heart attack). The Intraaortic balloon pump uses a balloon placed in the patient’s aorta via a catheter that is connected to the pump’s console. The monitor displays heart rate, pressure, and electrocardiogram (ECG) readings.
Crash Cart – more commonly known as a code cart. The Crash cart is a portable cart containing a variety of portable emergency resuscitation equipment for patients who are “coding.” Coding means that a patient’s vital signs are in the danger range and the patient is very near death. The emergency equipment contained on a Crash cart includes equipment such as a defibrillator, airway intubation devices, a resuscitation bag/mask, and medication box which contains certain special medicines like Atropine, Calcium Chloride, Epinephrine and Midazolam. Crash carts are strategically located in the ICU for immediate availability when a patient experiences cardiorespiratory failure.
There are many more medical devices that that are commonly used by cardiac care nurses than those listed above, and those just serve as a small example of some of what these nurses use on a day to day basis.
Other duties commonly performed by them are such things as administering stress tests, administering electrocardiograms (EKGs), prepare patients for open heart surgery, administer various medications, and monitor the patient’s vital signs. These nurses also are a point of contact and communicate with the patients’ family members and friends to discuss progress, processes of the various treatments that the patient will undergo
Cardiac Care nurses typically have an associates degree of science in nursing, but more often have a bachelors degree as more healthcare facilities are requiring nurses in this field to have the extra education provided with a Bachelors of Science degree in nursing.
Cardiology nurse salaries depending on the sub specialty, but they earn an average of $53,000.00 to $89,000.00 with an annual average median income of around $68,000.00.
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