Best way to break into cardiac nursing

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    I am set to graduate from an ADN program in May and have my sights set on cardiac nursing. I had clinicals on a cardiac stepdown floor last semester and loved it. I would love to work somewhere like that, or a CVICU, or possibly a heart failure clinic. I am not expecting to nab my dream job right out of school and am more than happy to pay my dues. What I'm wondering is, what's the best way to get started and get some relevant experience as a new grad? I'm a PCT on a Med-Surg floor right now... would experience on that floor (we get mostly urology pts, some neuro, and lots of status post mastectomy pts) help me at all? I was planning on applying there and on a Med-Surg/Tele floor. Is there anything else I haven't thought of that would help a new grad get experience relevant to cardiac nursing? Thanks in advance!!

    Just a quick note - I've looked into internships in my area (DFW) and there isn't too much that's specific to cardiac, but most of those internships only accept applications from BSN graduates.
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  3. 14 Comments so far...

  4. 1
    SugarMagnolia,

    It is very hard to get on to a specialty unit as a new grad. However, there may be some internship opportunities avaiable close to the time you complete the program. If that is not the case, it is good to work on a med-surg floor and develop your nursing skills, especially your assessment skills. Med-surg is the foundation of nursing, specialty areas just add to the knowledge that you already have. I have been nursing for 17 years and 6 of those years was on a med-surg floor. I now work in the CVICU and I can tell you that I value the time I spent on the med-surg floor. When you start out focusing on a particular specialty, I think it takes the focus off other important aspects of patient care. So develop your nursing skills and your assessment skills, give yourself a year and then transfer to a specialty unit.

    Good Luck to you! When you finally get to a cardiac unit, I promise you will love it!!
    carltjm3 likes this.
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    Thanks! I figured Med-Surg was the place to start to get some experience under my belt, but I wanted to make sure I could be marketable to cardiac units when the time was right. Do you think Med-Surg/Tele would still be too specialized, or would that be a good place to start out?
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    I started on a Med/Surg Telemetry Unit and I think that is the best place for you to start. You get your general med surg experience with a taste of cardiology as well and it would be perfect for the goal you are trying to reach. I did 6 months on that floor and that was it. I applied to a big cardiology practice and the manager thought my résumé to be attractive since I had med surg and cardiac experience. Now I've been working here a year, we have 10 providers and have follow up clinic, lipid clinic, amiodarone clinic, Coumadin clinic, we do echo's, stress tests, abi's etc. Love cardiology and wish you the best of luck!!
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    If you can find a position in a Nurse Residency type program you may be able to get a start directly into cardiology. I got hired into a nurse residency program and they essentially started us as float nurses to get our feet wet. We rotated throughout all the units in the hospital for 7 weeks (including cardiac areas) and then got to pick a top 3. I happened to get my #1 and land in the cardiovascular step-down unit. I love my job, but it is extremely demanding both mentally and physically being a new RN and trying to manage basic nursing time-management-type things as well as critical cardiac and post-op cardiac issues. Best of luck, anything is possible if you're dedicated enough!
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    Having had clinicals on a cardiac stepdown will help, imo. As PPs have stated it is hard to get onto a specialty unit as a new grad nowadays, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. I had my senior practicum on a cardiac stepdown/vascular ICU and on a whim I applied for a progressive care job...was offered an interview then offered the position. I think having my practicum in an area similar to that unit really helped. I say apply and see what happens because you never know! If you don't have any luck, then med-surg telemetry would be your next best bet because it will expose you to cardiac monitoring and getting to know your cardiac rhythms. Best of luck to you!
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    Jump in with both feet! I was lucky enough to be hired as a new grad to a Cardiac step down unit and I'm absolutely loving it. Learning something new everyday and checking the cardiac nursing board on here on my nights off to read about everyone's experiences. Good luck to you!
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    I think if you want cardiac step down and can get into it, to go for it, you have nothing to lose for trying, and since you had clinicals on a step down unit, you know what to expect. I am a new grad from May, started in ER for 5 months and just now got hired in a cardiac step down--it is possible Good luck!
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    Thanks for the input y'all! I have an interview this week for a PCT position on a cardiac floor and another manager told me to stop by & meet with her so we can talk about the unit & their internship program that starts in May. Luckily, I already work at this hospital so it may be easier for me to get my foot in the door. Here's hoping!! Let me know if y'all have any tips for these meetings I've got this week!!
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    That's true. It is possible. I graduate in May 2012. Passed NCLEX in August. Got hired in September at an LTC. And on February 12 I started my orientation in the Cardiac Pavilion.


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