Cardiac nursing questions

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    I'm in nursing school and will be doing an externship this summer. They've asked me to list my top three areas of interest so they can place me in one of those areas (hopefully). I listed the cardiac floors just because i'm curious. Our Cardiac nurses (float pool especially) make GOOD money compared to other nurses. Can anyone tell me why that is? Would you agree that you make more money than other specialties (with the exception of anesthetists) ?
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  3. 9 Comments so far...

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    Nope. I can't agree with that. In fact, cardiac nurses don't even compare with what CRNAs make!

    In the hospital, floor nurses seem to make the same, regardless of specialty. The difference is years of experience...
    bluesnurse likes this.
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    The Cardiac Float Pool (or is it Modfied Baylor Plan?!) Make $50/hr + time and a half which they most always work a lot of overtime. I've only seen this with the cardiac nurses. In my state, that's a lot of money. The most a very experienced regular full time floor nurse would get is 26-29/hour.
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    You live in a poor paying state. I made more than $30/hr after just 2 yrs experience. Again, speciality didn't matter.

    The Baylor plan is completely different. Has nothing to do with any specialty. Most times I see Baylor only offered to LTC.
    Heather Hoffman RN likes this.
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    None of the hospitals in my area pay any differently based on the unit where you work or specialty certifications.
    bluesnurse likes this.
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    Nurses don't make different pay based on their unit where I work. Pool nurses make more because they are more experienced and have to be able to handle pts on whatever unit they are assigned to. As far as I know we don't have specific cardiac pool nurses at my hospital. The cardiac units hire new grads, so there are a lot of green nurses working in that area (big staff turnover).
    bluesnurse likes this.
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    a.caroline, where do you live? I haven't found this to be the case where I've worked in several different states around New England. All med/surg nurses get paid relatively the same based on experience. As a new grad I started at about $28/hr and have since gone up to the mid-30's range.

    As above posters have said, in most hospitals the main determinant of wage is years of experience.

    Baylors do get paid more (different, generally undesirable, shifts) and per diems typically get paid a little more (no health insurance). Other than that, I've never had the experience of cardiac nurses getting more money.

    I WILL say that if you ever plan on doing travel nursing you may consider starting as a tele/cardiac nurse. A lot of travel recruiters I've spoken to have said that cardiac nurses are often in higher demand when hospitals are looking for travelers. Good luck!
    bluesnurse likes this.
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    Thank you for your input! I understand that Travel Nursing can definitely bring in some good money...but I didn't know that cardiac nurses were really in demand for travel. That gives me something to think about.

    Can anyone share their opinions about what the best heart unit to work on is?
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    Hi a.caroline, I got my first hospital job in 1993 as an EKG tech, then became an echo tech, and finally an RN in 2004. I've tried to change specialties once or twice but have concluded that cardiac is my "thing." I love it. So my advice may be a little biased

    First the money -- I must be in a low-paying area (NC) because I don't make close to $30 an hour. Granted, my job is 8-to-5 so I'd imagine nurses on the floor make a little more. I've worked a few positions for this facility and overtime is universally frowned upon; I only occasionally pick some up by taking call. That said, cardiac experience can be a stepping stone to higher-paying specialties and can give you an edge in future job hunts. I suspect the cardiac nurses you know in the float pool are in high demand among the NMs, and that's why they make more!

    One thing you will find in cardiac is an abundance of adrenaline junkies and driven, type-A personalities. Because cardiac experience is essential in critical care and advanced practice nursing, you will work with a lot of smart, highly motivated people preparing for, or in, advanced degree programs. You will have to be on your toes all the time and know exactly what to do when the worst happens -- and at some point, it will.

    Many of the rest of us cardiac types are just plain geeks. The heart is cool because it's plumbing, electricity, and mechanics. It's math and physics and pressure gradients and med titration. You have to crunch a lot of numbers. And you HAVE to learn your rhythms -- all of them -- up, down, and inside out. Then you move on to 12-leads

    As to "the best heart unit to work on," that's impossible to say because it depends on your strengths and "likes" as a nurse. What's great is that there are so many options in cardiac. A tele unit is the "med surg" of cardiac nursing and the place you're most likely to get hired as a new grad. I also know cath lab, CVOR, and CCU nurses who got their jobs right out of school, usually because they'd made such a good impression as students.

    Aside of the hospital-based career paths, there is office/clinic nursing, cardiac rehab and stress testing, corporate wellness, diagnostic imaging, and research to name a few. But really, the most important thing is that you truly find cardiac nursing interesting and love to learn.

    That, and never forgetting there is a Real Live Patient behind all those monitors

    As for your clinicals, a tele floor is always a good bet, but if there's something that particularly interests you, there's no harm in asking -- as a student, you have that luxury! Good luck with whatever you decide :heartbeat
    sevensonnets and SnowShoeRN like this.
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    Just my experience - I really enjoyed CV step-down (not available everywhere). They hire new grads and you work with surgical patients (open heart, AAA repair, thoracotomy, etc.)
    I started out on cardiac PCU - good starting point as well, you get everything and get to learn your drips before moving to a floor where you do more titrating.
    Just remember to stay up on your cardiac meds and rhythms, as stated above - whatever floor you choose.
    As for money, it's all been said above. As for traveling - eh. The money is not that great anymore - those days are over for now (unless you are very savvy). The travel companies get most of the money. Hopefully things change with that, but I hung that idea up with my last travel offer a couple weeks ago. Let's just say it was less money than I made right out of school (significantly).
    Good luck to the new grads! Cardiology is a great place to start!


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