Cardiac Nurse Practitioner: Education and Training Program Info

Registered nurses interested in cardiac health leadership can complete a master's specializing in cardiology. Master's degree holders can enroll in a cardiology nurse fellowship program or pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree with a cardiac research focus.

Essential Information

Master's degree programs in nursing often offer a specialization in adult cardiovascular care. In these programs, nurses study different types of cardiovascular diseases and their treatments and gain hands-on clinical experience. Graduates can qualify to apply for nurse practitioner certification, which requires passing an examination in addition to completing a master's or post-master's program.

A cardiology nurse fellowship program is a 1-year course of study for nurses with master's degrees. These programs generally have no classes; the training is in a clinical situation, working with cardiac patients for the duration of their hospital stay. In addition to learning to care for the patients, nurses also develop their communication skills with physicians and hospital staff as well as the patients and their families.

In a doctoral program, nurses with graduate degrees develop their leadership and clinical skills. Even if a program doesn't specifically offer a concentration in cardiovascular nursing, there are usually many options for pursuing this specialty. Doctoral students develop their research skills and analyze various aspects of health care through independent research and projects.

In terms of admissions requirements, a bachelor's degree, GRE/GMAT scores and a letter of recommendation are required for entry into a master's program, a master's degree as a nurse practitioner is required for a fellowship and a master's degree as a nurse practitioner and licensure is required for entry into a Doctor of Nursing program.


Master of Science in Nursing

Individuals interested in attaining a nursing master's degree can specialize in adult cardiovascular care. This program teaches students how to treat cardiovascular disease and to understand the effect of treatment on patients. Various cutting-edge techniques for alleviating and treating cardiac distress and disease are taught, as well as a review of the theories of older methods and medications. Relevant courses offered in these as well as most general nursing programs discuss:

  • History of cardiovascular disease
  • Treating cardiovascular disease
  • Nursing practices and theories
  • Mentality of a patient

Cardiology Nurse Practitioner Fellowship

This highly exclusive postgraduate fellowship teaches participants about cardiovascular diseases; specifically, students learn how to diagnose them and the most cost-effective ways to treat them. Participants do not have a typical class schedule in this program; they work four shifts of about 10-12 hours each week at the hospital. In this hands-on approach, students will work with patients incurring cardiovascular problems and their respective physicians or surgeons. Not only do fellowship enrollees learn all the steps of the diagnosis and treatment cycle, but they will also learn communication skills and how to interact with the patients and their families.

Doctor of Nursing Practice Program

This program teaches those who already have graduate school experience to become more qualified to work in high positions of health care. Professionals learn to analyze, create, and change health care policies, procedures, and surgical methods or tools for current and future treatments. Some programs offer a cardiology concentration that teaches students specifically about cardiovascular disease and treatment. Independent research and projects then focus on the cardiac field. Courses also prepare students to work in all areas of nursing, with diverse populations in terms of age, ethnicity, and class. Even programs that do not offer a cardiac nursing practitioner specialization provide courses about cardiovascular functions and disease, potentially addressing:

  • Risk assessment
  • Advanced adult cardiovascular nursing
  • Pediatric heart health
  • Electrocardiography

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to a report published by the BLS in May 2015, nurse practitioners in general earned a median of $98,190 a year. The number of employed licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses was expected to increase 16% between 2014 and 2024, notes the BLS, which was faster than the national average.

Continuing Education

Those interested in becoming certified as a nurse practitioner can take the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program's National Certification Examination. These exams are made up of 150 multiple-choice questions. Upon successful completion of this test, nursing practitioners can cite a NP-C next to their name on resumes. In order to gain acceptance to this test, individuals must have graduated from an approved master's or post-master's degree program. Certification is available in the areas of family, adult, and gerontological nurse practitioner.

Training for cardiac nurse practitioners is available to registered nurses, with or without a master's degree. The level of study required, depends on a nurse practitioners current qualifications; master's holders can undertake a fellowship or study towards a doctorate program.


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