Cardiac rehab careers provide extensive challenges and opportunities for incredible growth as an individual. Cardiac centers throughout the country are seeking out specialized providers who can work with patients overcoming a wide range of heart-related rehabilitation including surgeries, coronary procedures, and even transplantation. Nurses working with these high-risk patients must be detailed, hardworking, and incredibly insightful when taking care of patients. Though not easy, there are numerous reasons to participate in a career field such as this one.
Types of Careers
Cardiac nurses work in a range of situations. Their goal is to help patients to reduce the risk of maintaining a chronic illness and to improve the overall quality of life. This is done through a method of constant work and control over risk factors. Those who work in this field can work in various types of environments providing assistance to those with heart-related illness.
The initial step for many patients who have had a significant cardiac event, such as a heart attack, is to overcome the frailty they initially feel and to provide the heart with an opportunity to strengthen. This is often done within a hospital setting. The goal here is to ensure the patient attains the goals set by the doctor prior to discharge. Nursing focus here includes:
•Maintaining monitors and testing to ensure cardiac function is improving.
•Reduce strain or other risk factors in an immediate fashion.
•Provide the patient with aid in how to change lifestyle or minimize further complications from heart-related illness.
All of this is done within the hospital setting. Cardiac nursing careers, which nearly always require a specialization in the field, are some of the most important jobs since patients are at a high-risk level.
In some cases, patients will need to enter a step down facility or a recovery type facility prior to being able to go home after a heart-related procedure. For example, in patients with significant valve replacement, transplantation or other invasive procedures, recovery time needs to be longer than a hospital stay can provide. In step down facilities, the goal of the nurse is to ensure the patient can improve enough to go home. Nursing tasks will include:
•Maintain communication with doctors and family.
•Teaching the patient how to maintain heart-health and reduce heart related factors.
•Working to provide physical therapy, encouragement, and medications that are prescribed by doctors to improve heart function.
Often, regulation of such medications is critical at this stage. Patients may enter into this type of program due to the need to adjust medications that could have high potential side effects in a stable environment. Nurses must provide constant monitoring and information to doctors as a result.
Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities
Some cardiac nurses focus their skills on patients with the most need, such as those in nursing homes. These patients are often dealing with complications from heart disease that is chronic or likely to extend for years. They may have a weakened heart that causes significant limitations on their lifestyle. Patients with conditions including congestive heart failure, end stage cancers, and advanced coronary artery disease may need constant and ongoing care. Some patients are not elderly, either. In this situation, nurses provide a range of care for patients including:
•Maintaining overall health through constantly monitoring the patient’s well-being, providing medications timely and ensuring any lifestyle changes are met as required
•Avoiding high-stress situations that may cause blood pressure to rise to high levels that could put the patient at sizable risk
•Aiding patients with heart-related concerns, maintaining communication with families and reporting condition changes to doctors
In this environment, cardiac rehab nurses still have the goal of helping patients improve both physically and emotionally for going home. However, in this type of facility, the goal is often to do so with a focus on longer-term and ongoing care until that is possible.
Cardiac rehab careers require nurses to aid patients in walking the fine line between pushing the heart effectively to improve and minimizing risk factors for complications. Though this process is not easy to do, those nurses with a focus on rehabilitating patients from heart-related conditions often find their job rewarding as these patients often have the highest risks and the highest possible benefit if they recover effectively.