Pulmonary (or Respiratory Nurses) specialize in caring for patients, from pediatrics to geriatrics, who have acute and/or chronic lung issues. These include (not all-inclusive):
These conditions may be caused by smoking, genetics, or infections and are some of the most common patient ailments. Pulmonary nurses, while caring for patients with other co-morbidities, have special knowledge and skills for the particular needs of patients with pulmonary conditions. Pulmonary nurses are specially trained to manage and help treat the various effects of these diseases on the lungs.
Astute patient assessment
Knowledge of respiratory procedures and treatment options
Ability to interpret pulmonary diagnostic tests (example, ABGs)
Effective patient-teaching methods
Acute care settings (ICU, medical-surgical or step-down units)
Home health or rehabilitation facilities
Medical equipment or the pharmaceutical industry
Pulmonary Nurses have the option to advance and organize/oversee outpatient Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation programs. These may include preparing educational programs for inpatients and outpatients as well as guiding patients in progressive exercise programs for post-MI and long-term COPD. Others may lend their expertise to the specialty of Case Management for a pulmonary unit or become a Unit Educator.
Graduate from an accredited Registered Nurse (RN) nursing program with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), or higher
Successfully pass the NCLEX-RN (Registered Nurse)
Possess a current, unencumbered RN license in the state of practice
In addition, Pulmonary Nurses may attain additional certifications in trach care or working with ventilators.
RNs pursuing an advanced practice degree may obtain further education and training with a focus on pulmonary diseases, then become case managers or oversee COPD rehabilitation programs, organizing patient or unit education programs.
Associations and Resources
The American Thoracic Society (ATS) strives to "improve health worldwide by advancing research, clinical care, and public health in respiratory disease, critical illness, and sleep disorders".
The Respiratory Nursing Society and Interprofessional Collaborative (RNSIC) is the "professional association for healthcare providers interested in respiratory health and quality care for those with respiratory disorders".
The Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists (ARNS) was established in 1997 as a nursing forum for the respiratory nursing community. They strive to ensure excellence in practice, influence respiratory health policy and elevate the practice of respiratory nursing care.
The American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) is a professional association whose members include physicians and nurses, as well as other healthcare colleagues. Their mission: "reduce morbidity, mortality and disability from cardiovascular and pulmonary disease through education, prevention, rehabilitation, research, and disease management. Central to the core mission is improvement in quality of life for patients and their families."
This association provides a comprehensive directory of pulmonary rehabilitation resources for pulmonary healthcare colleagues as well as for patients.
The AACVPR Certification Commission awards a comprehensive professional certification in cardiac rehabilitation: Certified Cardiac Rehabilitation Professional (CCRP).
Eligibility (not all-inclusive)
1,200 clinical hours in Cardiac Rehab (CR)/secondary prevention in Cardiac Rehabilitation
Minimum of a Bachelor’s degree or higher in a health-related field from an accredited college or university OR
Current, unencumbered Registered Nurse (RN) license in the state of practice
The CCRP credential has met the criteria for inclusion by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) on their list of certifications included in the Magnet Recognition Program® Demographic Data Collection Tool™ (DDCT).
According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual pay for a Pulmonary Care Registered Nurse in the U.S. is $84,491.
According to salary.com, the average salary for the Pulmonary Nurse Practitioner (NP) in the U.S. is $95,361 and ranges between $87,860 and $102,474.
As pulmonary conditions are some of the most common patient presentations, the need for skilled and knowledgeable nurses in the area of Pulmonary nursing is expected to remain strong.
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