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
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
Cardiac Nurse Practitioners can find employment in a variety of healthcare facilities, including (but not limited to)
Home care agencies
Veterans’ healthcare facilities
Extended care facilities
Government agencies and health departments
Ambulatory care centers
Cardiac catheterization labs
Cardiac intensive care units
Community health centers and public health centers
Coronary care units
Outpatient cardiac rehabilitation clinics
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:
New Jersey: $130,890/yr
New York :$126,440
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:
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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)
At least of two years of cardiac experience
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.
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.