Cardiac Nurse Specialist Education and Training Requirements
Becoming a cardiac nurse specialist involves all the training and education that a nurse must normally undergo, plus some additional work in the cardiac specialty. You will need to have put in some prior work as a registered nurse first and will probably need references from within the medical field. This means gaining hospital experience before taking the exam. Entering this field is a long process, but one that is worth it with a number of personal and professional rewards.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing
The first step in becoming a cardiac nurse specialist is to obtain at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. There are many different schools that offer nursing degrees throughout the United States, making it easy to find a school in your area. Additionally, several schools, including Gwynedd Mercy College, Sullivan University, and Walden University, offer nursing degrees that can be earned through online coursework. In addition to grants and financial aid normally available to undergraduate students, the Health Resources and Services Administration has several scholarship programs available to nursing students that you can take advantage of.
Master of Science in Nursing
Following the successful completion of your bachelorís degree, you should consider pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing. Many potential employers will require a masterís degree in order to complete your specialty certification, and receiving this degree will give you valuable skills that will become essential in clinical practice. A Master of Science offers the option of gaining a Clinical Nurse Specialist, or CNS, concentration, and one of the fields you can select for your concentration is in cardiovascular care. In addition to traditional financial aid, you can fund your masterís degree by beginning work with certain hospitals. Many of them have programs devoted to assisting with continued education.
Before gaining the title of cardiac nurse specialist, you will need to complete a certification exam in cardiac vascular nursing. Every state in the US requires that this exam be passed before gaining the title of cardiac nurse specialist. Prior to taking the exam, you will need to have met certain practice goals. While these goals vary from state to state, they are usually made up of at least 600 hours of clinical work and exposure to cardiac cases. You may also need letters of reference from others. The exam can cost up to $395 to take, but this cost can be reduced by joining groups such as the American Nurses Association.
After obtaining your certification, you will need to renew it once every five years. The increased salary that comes with a cardiac care certification will help you with these costs, and some hospitals or schools will provide funds to pay the cost of taking the exam. Once you have completed all the required work and study, you will find a very rewarding career as a cardiac nurse specialist, where your actions and decisions will help people live longer and healthier lives.