What is the Role of a Cardiac Nurse Specialist?
by John Gary
Nursing is a large and varied field, with plenty of opportunities for specialization. Cardiac nurse specialists work with patients dealing with medical issues of the heart in a variety of different professional environments. As medical professionals, they work with doctors and surgeons to make certain that patients receive the best care possible. Unlike doctors and surgeons, however, a cardiac nurse specialist will have a great amount of direct interaction with patients as they oversee their plan of care.
If you’re wondering how to become a cardiac nurse specialist, the simple answer is schooling. These nurses do have specialized training that makes them extra valuable in the medical industry. As a result, trained cardiac nurse specialists have great job opportunities. Here are just some of the important aspects of a role as a cardiac nurse specialist.
Support and Monitor Patients
Cardiac patients are often at a high risk of a cardiac episode, especially if they’ve just had one. As a result, cardiac nurse specialists need to be able to help a patient understand their limits and remain safe and healthy while they heal. Thus, cardiac nurses are often the people who directly support and communicate with patients and their families. This can mean monitoring medication, physical activity, and overall health. Patients depend on cardiac nurses to provide a channel of communication between them and all people responsible for their care.
Meticulous Record Keeping
Hospitals can be hectic, cardiac units especially so. As a result, cardiac nurse specialists play an important role in preventing medical error and harm to their patients. They do this through a process called ‘charting’ in which patient medications, treatments, and symptoms are all thoroughly cataloged. By keeping flawless records, cardiac nurses can help other nurses and doctors stay up-to-date on a patient’s status and prevent medical malpractice.
Patients who have suffered a cardiac episode or had open heart surgery are at great risk for heart attacks and stroke. For some of these patients, a quick intervention can mean the difference between life and death. Since cardiac nurse specialists are present for the monitoring of patient care, they’re often the first people to respond in the event of an emergency. This could include applying a defibrillator, doing chest compressions or providing any support necessary to help stabilize a patient.
Teaching and Training
Whether a cardiac nurse specialist is working in a teaching hospital or not, they’re likely to encounter new nurses and nursing students on a regular basis. Even fully trained graduates can lack practical experience, and nursing students are always looking for an example to follow. As a result, an important role for any cardiac nurse specialist is assisting in the practice and training of newer nurses. By doing so, a nurse specialist can help maintain a high level of care within their unit.