Cardiac Nursing Certification and Education Program Options

All registered nurses can specialize in cardiac care by choosing to practice nursing at a cardiovascular health facility. But there are also graduate-level training options for those who want to move into advanced practice cardiac nursing.

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Essential Information

Advanced practice nursing programs, including the Master of Science in Nursing-Cardiac Nurse Practitioner, provide options for both aspiring nurse practitioners, who are able to diagnose, manage and treat a variety of medical conditions, and clinical nurse specialists, who provide specialty nursing care in clinical settings. Both tracks typically offer the option to specialize in cardiac care. Certification for a cardiac nurse practitioner requires a registered nurse (RN) license in the state where the school is located, sufficient work and clinical practice experience, a bachelor's degree and a passing score on a national examination. Programs will often require students to complete clinical experience and a research project or thesis.

Cardiac Nursing Certification

Nurse practitioner programs generally focus on diagnosis and treatment. Courses in a program for prospective cardiac nurse practitioners might include the following:

  • Cardiac nursing
  • Advanced health assessment
  • 12-point lead EKG
  • Advanced pharmacology
  • Common and acute health problems for advanced nurses
  • Disease management

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment for all registered nurses would grow by 16% from 2014 to 2024, which is much faster than the average expected for all occupations ( In May 2015, the median annual salary for registered nurses was $67,490, according to the BLS. Most cardiac care unit nurses earned an annual salary between $44,705 and $95,363, based on figures from in January 2016.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

The American Nurse Credentialing Center offers certification in Cardiac Vascular Nursing. Basic requirements are a valid RN license, a certain amount of work experience as an RN and a passing grade on a national exam. Also, applicants should have completed 2,000 hours of clinical practice and 30 hours of continuing education in cardiac nursing within the past three years.

The American College of Cardiovascular Nurses (ACCN) offers continuing education programs for cardiovascular nurse practitioners, as well as emergency and cardiac nurses. In conjunction with the American Board of Cardiovascular Medicine, ACCN also offers certification programs for nurse practitioners and acute care nurses working in cardiovascular areas. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing also offers educational information and continuing education for professional nurses.

For RNs interested in continuing their education and specializing, a certification in cardiac nursing can provide the necessary training and skills to become successful cardiac nurses.

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