Cardiac Rehab Nursing: A Rewarding Nursing Subspecialty

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Cardiac rehabilitation nursing is unlike any other field of nursing. This subspecialty of cardiac nursing is one of the few areas in the entire field of nursing where you have the satisfaction of watching your patients make remarkable improvements and continue to lower their risk of chronic illness. Huge advancements that continue to be made in cardiac care have improved the odds of recovery from all types of cardiac diseases, creating a growing demand for cardiac rehabilitation nurses across the world.

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Cardiac rehab nurses provide consistent care to patients with cardiovascular disease, including those with coronary angioplasty, recent MI, stable angina, coronary bypass or other cardiac diagnoses. The end goal is to help cardiac patients recover and maintain maximum health and to prevent any associated complications.

As a cardiac rehab nurse, you may work in a hospital, private clinic, long-term care facility, patient rehabilitation centre, home healthcare setting or a community centre. The exact job details may vary depending upon the workplace.

In a larger facility you may focus on monitoring a patient’s heart function and exercise plan while working as part of a team that includes a nutritionist, patient–care associate and social worker. In a smaller facility you may play the role of workout partner, goal setter, heart monitor, diet supervisor, educator and advocate, while continuing to monitor and evaluate the patient’s progress.

As part of the job responsibility, a cardiac rehab nurse may also design and implement customised programs that include nutritional counselling, supervised exercise, emotional support and education about other lifestyle changes that can reduce the likelihood of further complications.

Your typical day would likely include evaluating a new patient’s level of physical fitness by administering a low level exercise test. The results of the test will help you decide at which level they should start their program so that they can achieve their end goal. As a cardiac rehab nurse, you may also be required to run multiple exercise classes for patients and convey their progress reports to their respective cardiologist.

Academic requirements

To become a cardiac rehab nurse you will have to first obtain a BSN degree or an associate degree in nursing. You then have to earn your certification by passing the NCLEX-RN examination. It is a good idea to spend a couple of years in an ICU environment in order to gain some experience in essential skills such as reading heart monitors and learning to recognize when a patient is in distress. There is no nationally recognized individual certification for this subspecialty. Any registered nurse can certify as a general rehabilitation nurse.

Salary

The salary of a cardiac rehab nurse varies hugely depending upon the healthcare setting as well as the years of experience. 

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