Cardiovascular nurses must first start out as registered nurses. To become an RN, you can either get an associate’s degree at a community college or you can get a diploma directly through a 2-3 year hospital program. Use the program search application to find a RN program near you.
However, it is highly recommended to get a bachelor’s of science in nursing degree because there is better chance for advancement. You must also be prepared to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).
Once you are a registered nurse, through any of the above means, you’ll need to prepare for the cardiac/vascular nurse certification exam. To do that, there are 30 hours of continuing education within the field as well as completing 2,000 hours of supervised clinical practice. The American Nurses Credentialing Center is where the certification is available through and once you have become certified, you’ll need to renew the certification every five years. One thing to keep in mind is that you must be a registered nurse for two years before this option is available.
Another option is to complete a Master’s of Science in Nursing to become a cardiovascular clinical nurse specialist (CNS) which is an additional two years of education plus recognition by your state’s board of nursing. All paths require both classroom and supervised clinical education.
As a cardiovascular nurse, you should also be certified in Basic Life Support and Advanced Cardiac Life Support.