How Do You Become a Cardiac Care Nurse?

Cardiac Care NurseAs a nursing student, you know that you have a number of options open to you after graduation, but you might decide that you want to become a cardiac care nurse. A cardiac care nurse is a nurse who works specifically with people suffering from heart problems. They might work in an intensive care clinic with patients who recently had a heart attack, at an aftercare center with victims recovering from heart conditions or those recently diagnosed with heart problems. Finishing your education is just one step on your path to becoming one of those nurses.

Finish Your Degree

To become a cardiac care nurse or any type of nurse, you must have a college degree. Some students attend community college or a two-year program, which lets them work in the field as they earn a higher degree. Other students go immediately into a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. Also known as a BSN, this program is open to students of all backgrounds, but you’ll need to take some general education courses in addition to your nursing courses. You do not need a graduate degree to work as a cardiac care nurse, but you do need an undergraduate degree.

Pass the Licensing Examination

The only way you can work as any type of nurse in the country is if you successfully pass the licensing examination in your state. Administered by the National Council Licensure Examination, the NCLEX consists of two different parts. You must schedule an appointment for your examination, pay for a background check, submit your fingerprints for testing and take the test on a computer in one of the testing centers in your state. The test consists of more than 200 questions, but if you consistently answer the questions correctly, the computer will turn itself off and mark you as passing the test. You’ll typically receive confirmation or receive notice of your results within a few weeks.

Get Practical Experience

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that RNs make around $65,000 a year. Those with more experience have the chance to make even more. You can’t expect to walk into a hospital and get a good nursing job right off the street, but you can get a great job when you gain some more experience. Consider taking an internship during your last year in college or spending more time doing clinical rotations in college. That experience will show that you have the ability to work effectively with doctors, nurses and patients.

Apply for Other Certificates

After you become a cardiac care nurse, think about applying for other certificates and credentials. The American Board of Cardiovascular Medicine and the American Nurse Credentialing Center both offer certificates for those working in the field, which lets them seek employment in rehabilitation and other areas. Most certificate programs require that you have an RN degree, a minimum of two years experience working as a nurse and a valid license in your state. After passing the test administered by that board, you receive your new certificate.

Related Resource: Nurse Educator

Cardiac nurses work in rehabilitation centers, hospitals, aftercare clinics and other settings. They administer medications, keep a close eye on patients, take vital statistics and keep those patients comfortable. Finishing your nursing degree will start you down a path that will help you become a cardiac care nurse.