Cardiac Nurse Job Profile

Cardiac nurses are specialist registered nurses working in the area of heart treatment. This is a particularly demanding area of technical nursing, requiring considerable personal application and dedication.

The work environment

Cardiac nurses work within clinical care environments dealing with cardiovascular diseases, coronary conditions, and other cardiological conditions. Their role involves providing a combination of services:

  • Emergency care response
  • Cardiac patient management and care
  • Cardiac care procedures, including defibrillation
  • Administration of medication
  • Patient monitoring
  • Testing for cardiac conditions
  • Post operative services

Cardiac nurses are in some ways the primary caregivers for patients outside the actual cardiac procedural scenarios. Their advanced specialist training and experience are critically important in terms of dealing with patients who are suffering from serious conditions. Cardiological procedures often involve major surgery and strict care regimes for patients, often for considerable periods of time.  The cardiac nurse, as a specialist, is able to deal with a range of related preoperative and postoperative complications arising from these serious medical conditions.

Patient monitoring is one of the most important roles of the cardiac nurse. Cardiac procedures include complex issues which are often specific to the individual patient. No two procedures are identical, because no two patients are identical. A procedure may require that a person who is very unwell undergo a procedure which would be less of a risk to a healthier person. In some cases major surgery, by definition, is a serious issue. Most, if not all, heart surgery involves major procedures. The individual situations of patients therefore require constant checking of the patient's condition by a specialist. 

Areas covered in monitoring include:

  • Patient vital signs
  • Cardiac monitoring
  • Infections
  • Wound healing
  • Arrythmia issues
  • Neurological issues in some cases
  • Pain management
  • Support issues like IV drips, nutrition, personal hygiene, etc.

This is a holistic care management process, and cardiac patients require direct clinical support for some time after their procedures. Cardiac nurses also function in the traditional nursing role, assisting family contacts with information, advice and in many cases explaining the issues related to the patient's condition concerning care and outpatient situations.

As registered nurses, cardiac nurses may also be engaged in training roles, and in some cases administration roles within their units.

Wages: $30 per hour for experienced nurses, may vary depending on nature of position and seniority.

Hours: Usually shift hours, may include considerable overtime, and a requirement to be available under certain conditions.

The career environment

Cardiac nurses are very much in demand. This is a career track where supply rarely meets demand. The specialist training of the cardiac nurse provides valuable support for all cardiology practices at all levels. Cardiac nurses do have considerable job mobility, but as advanced practice nurses, career considerations may necessitate particular career paths.

Basic career progression develops from experience, qualifications, and areas of expertise. A cardiac nurse undergoes the same rigorous career training as all registered nurses, and the career progression through organizations tends to be promotional.

Some cardiac nurses may specialize in particular areas of cardiology, like cardiovascular diseases, or other cardiac conditions, after undergoing additional training and accreditation in these fields. These specializations provide a "niche" career path, which often create opportunities for good career advancement.