Cardiac Nurse Practitioner Career Guide



Taking care of your heart is the key to a long life. According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular diseases were the leading cause of death, globally. In 2019 alone, it accounted for around 18.6 million deaths around the world. With all this in mind, it is no surprise that HCPs like Cardiac Nurse Practitioners are more important and in-demand than ever.


Read on to learn more about how to become a Cardiac Nurse Practitioner, their regular responsibilities and average income.


 

Overview Cardiac Nurse Practitioners are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) who are trained to give treatment and care to patients with heart issues. These could range from structural and electrical conditions, blood vessel problems or cardiac illnesses. They work to create detailed care plans, with the input of other HCPs like physicians or doctors.


 

Tasks and responsibilities


Cardiac nurse practitioners are trained to perform a wide variety of tasks related to evaluating for and treating the heart, blood vessels and cardiac system. This includes (but is not limited to):


  • Researching on the cardiovascular system

  • Analyzing, implementing and adapting patient care plans alongside other HCPs

  • Helping patients who require ECMO

  • Aiding with the process of cardiac catheterization

  • Carrying out stress tests and interpreting results

  • Assessing and accounting for patient risks for cardiovascular disease

  • Monitoring post-operative patients and applying post-procedure care.

  • Safely applying central arterial or venous catheters

  • Prescribing cardiovascular medication

  • Readying patients for surgeries and procedures like heart bypasses

  • Ordering and performing diagnostics/ laboratory tests and analyzing their results

  • Consulting and counseling patients regarding healthy lifestyle changes


Further Specialization


Just like with any other field, cardiac nurse practitioners can choose between providing general cardiac care and further specializing into specific areas of cardiovascular care, such as:


  • Congestive heart failure

  • Coronary artery disease

  • Aortic aneurysms

  • Arrhythmias

  • Cardiac catheterization

  • Cardiac infections

  • Cardiac surgery

  • Myocardial infarctions

  • Valvular irregularities

  • And more


Work Location:


Cardiac Nurse Practitioners can find employment in a variety of healthcare facilities, including (but not limited to)


  • Electrophysiology practice

  • Emergency room

  • Home care agencies

  • Veterans’ healthcare facilities

  • Hospice

  • Hospital

  • Private practices

  • Extended care facilities

  • Government agencies and health departments

  • Educational institutions

  • Ambulatory care centers

  • Cardiac catheterization labs

  • Cardiac intensive care units

  • Community health centers and public health centers

  • Coronary care units

  • Outpatient cardiac rehabilitation clinics

  • Palliative care


 

Salary


As of March 2022, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) places the median salary for nurse practitioners at $117,670 per year. Adjusted for experience and additional certification, the number in practice can range from $82,460 to $184,180. Although this figure applies to NPs in general, it lines up with Glassdoor’s projected annual salary of $116,804 for cardiac NPs.


Highest Paying States


As per the BLS, the current highest paying states for NPs are as follows:


  • California: $145,970/yr

  • New Jersey: $130,890/yr

  • Washington: $126,480

  • New York :$126,440

  • Massachusetts: $126,050


States With The Most NP Jobs


Salary is only one part of the equation. Some states provide more jobs than others. At the time of writing, the top states in this regard are the following:


  • California

  • New York

  • Texas

  • Florida

  • Ohio


Salary Range According to Experience


Like with most healthcare professions, salary is heavily influenced by experience. Cardiac NPs with more years under their belt earn a higher annual income. Below are the experience-based pay ranges, according to Payscale


  • Entry Level (Less than 1 year): $94,051

  • 1-4 Years: $97,842

  • 5-9 Years: $103,229

  • 10-19 Years: $116,716

  • 20+: $111,407


 

How to Become a Cardiac Nurse Practitioner


Becoming a cardiac nurse practitioner requires years of dedication, education and work experience. If you want to earn your certification, you must be prepared to make a significant personal and professional commitment. To help you along this career path, here are the 7 necessary steps for becoming a Cardiac NP:


Step 1: Become a Registered Nurse by completing an accredited nursing program and passing the NCLEX-RN


Step 2: Acquire at least 2 to 3 years of relevant cardiology nursing experience


Step 3: Earn either your MSN or DNP from an accredited nursing program


Step 4: Pass the national examination to become a certified nurse practitioner


Step 5: Earn post-graduate certification that specializes in cardiology


Step 6: Find your first job as a Cardiac NP


All together, it should take around 11 years to complete these requisite steps. Keep in mind that this time could vary, depending on the types of programs you take.


 

Best Cardiac Nurse Practitioner Programs


There are a number of high quality programs available to aspiring nurse practitioners. However, three schools stand out in particular, for their cardiology-specialized programs: Duke University, the University of South Alabama and Mayo Clinic’s School of Health Sciences in Arizona


Unlike a lot of other schools, their curriculum and clinical rotations are specifically focused on cardiology. The Mayo Clinic’s School of Health Sciences in Arizona in particular is unique in how it offers exclusive Cardiac NP fellowship.


1. University of South Alabama


USA’s cardiovascular subspeciality offers a unique opportunity for aspiring students. Students can choose to take it up alongside another MSN or DNP specialization or they can take it up as certification after graduation. Should you choose to take up this program, you can expect classes like:


  • Diagnosis and Management of Acute CV Disorders

  • Dysrhythmias and the Heart

  • Diagnosis and Management of Complex CV Disorders

  • Foundations of Cardiac Care for the APN


2. Duke University


Duke’s Cardiac NP program is recognized as one of the best in the entire country. Three cardiovascular courses are integrated into the nurse practitioner major itself. Students can also expect 168 hours of cardiovascular clinical experience at the Duke cardiovascular facility located in the Duke Heart center.


3. Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences in Arizona


Mayo Clinic School hosts an extremely competitive Cardiology Nurse Practitioner fellowship. Each year, two fortunate applicants enter a world-class program with a comprehensive curriculum that covers various aspects of adult cardiovascular care. According to the website, this includes “cardiovascular diagnostics, cardiac health and performance, interventional cardiology, vascular disease, electrophysiology, structural heart disease, advanced heart disease failure, cardiac transplantation, adult congenital heart disease, and cardiothoracic surgery.” Meanwhile, the program’s clinical rotations can take place in outpatient or inpatient settings.


 

Certification


Offered by the American Board of Cardiovascular Medicine Inc., the Cardiac Nurse Practitioners Level IV (CVNP-BC) is the only certification exam required for cardiac NPs. Before graduates can take this test, they have to fulfill a number of eligibility requirements:


  • Active, current and unencumbered registered nursing licensure in the US, its territories or Canada.

  • Graduate degree from an accredited program with a concentration in one of the following:

  • Adult (primary or acute)

  • Family

  • Gerontology

  • Women’s health

  • At least of two years of cardiac experience


 

Outlook


Generally speaking, the BLS projects a 45% growth in employment for Nurse Practitioners between 2020 to 2030, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. This roughly translates to 29,400 annual job openings within that timespan.


As for cardiac NPs specifically, demand for them is expected to remain consistently high. Across multiple gender and racial demographics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that heart disease was the leading cause of death. Because of the complex nature of cardiovascular care, Cardiac NPs also expect a lot of job security in the coming years.


 

Continuing Education


Like with most HCPs, Cardiac NPs are expected to stay on top of their continuing education and pay fees in order to keep their license active. Generally speaking, NPs are expected to complete at least 75 CE contact hours of education in their field of expertise.


Specifics will depend on your location, so you want to contact your local state board of nursing to inquire on the minimum CE hours required.


Further Resources:




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