When people think of nurses, they often imagine ICU or emergency room nurses like the ones seen on TV on shows like Nurses or ER. However, there are several different types of nurses within the field. One of the lesser-known roles is the telemetry nurse.
In this article, we will dive into an overview of telemetry nursing.
We will cover:
- What is a telemetry nurse?
- What does a telemetry nurse do?
- What are the duties and responsibilities of a telemetry nurse?
- Where do telemetry nurses work?
- What skills does a telemetry nurse need?
- How do you become a telemetry nurse?
- What are the salary and job outlooks for a telemetry nurse?
What is a telemetry nurse?
A telemetry nurse is a healthcare worker who specializes in using medical tools to measure a patient’s health.
This might not sound that different from a typical nurse’s role. Yet, telemetry nurses work with equipment that most nurses and doctors may never use. Their ability to operate this type of medical equipment makes them a vital component to any medical team.
What does a telemetry nurse do?
Telemetry nurses work with patients experiencing cardiovascular issues. Specifically, they work with patients who have:
- Heart conditions
- History of stroke
- Heart failure
- History of heart attack or chest pain
- High blood pressure
They record and monitor the output of electrocardiograms (EKGs). The EKG machine transfers the heart’s electrical impulses into a rhythm the telemetry nurse can understand. The telemetry nurse can then tell when rhythmic changes need medical attention and if a doctor needs to be alerted.
Moreover, the telemetry nurse helps keep track of vital signs such as blood pressure, oxygen levels, and more. They can also help with cardioversions to restore the heart to a regular rhythm—and other cardiac emergencies.
What are the duties and responsibilities of a telemetry nurse?
Some other duties a telemetry nurse may be responsible for are:
- Conducting diagnostic tests
- Administering medication as needed
- Tending to patients with cardiac pain
- Checking vital signs including blood pressure, breathing pattern, and oxygen levels
- Teaching patients and family members about cardiac health
- Helping doctors with procedures and treatments for cardiac issues
- Performing complete patient history and physical assessments of new patients
Where do telemetry nurses work?
Telemetry nurses tend to work in the telemetry and ICU units of a hospital. However, they can also work in:
- Home healthcare
- Nursing homes
- Outpatient surgery centers
- Long-term care spaces
Telemetry nurses can work as full-time employees or independent contractors. If the telemetry nurse has all the right qualifications and certifications, they can choose their work capacity.
What skills does a telemetry nurse need?
The telemetry nurse provides a specialized role within the nursing field. Accordingly, they must possess a specific skill set to best meet their patient’s needs. Some traits that telemetry nurses may want to possess:
- Technological savvy: People who have a knack for technology and can interpret data might consider telemetry nursing. Every day, a telemetry nurse works with technology such as EKG machines and other instruments to measure a patient’s health patterns.
- Excellent communication skills: Telemetry nurses work on a team of nurses, doctors, and other healthcare members. To achieve success, there must be consistent, effective communication. Also, telemetry nurses have to communicate with patients and family members, often on complex issues.
- Organizational aptitude: Nurses within this field often juggle more than five patients at any given time. It can prove stressful. Telemetry nurses must prioritize and organize their shifts to best meet all their patients’ needs.
How do you become a telemetry nurse?
Becoming certified within telemetry can take a long time. The process includes four important steps.
Obtain a nursing degree:
The first hurdle you have to jump through involves obtaining a degree. This is standard for any nursing specialty. You can choose to earn an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Many positions only require an associate’s degree, though some require that you enroll in a BSN program.
Transition to a registered nurse (RN):
In order to become a registered nurse, you need to pass the National Council Licensing Examination (NCLEX) for Registered Nursing. Passing this exam will grant you eligibility as a registered nurse and allow you to continue on the path toward telemetry.
Obtain a nursing license:
After passing the NCLEX, you must apply for a license with your state’s nursing board. The requirements vary by state and may include additional steps, such as a background check.
Gain Relevant Experience:
To become a telemetry nurse, you need about one to three years of relevant experience working with telemetric tools and patients who need them.
Become telemetry certified:
Two types of certification exist within telemetry:
- The Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) course takes about two days to complete and covers topics such as recognizing respiratory arrest and performing basic life support.
- The Progressive Care Certified Nurse (PCCN) is a specialty certification for nurses who provide direct care to acutely ill adult patients regardless of their physical location. There is a two-year (usually for nurses who work fulltime) and a five-year option (usually nurses who work parttime). Both have their own requirements.
After earning the certifications, it’s crucial to keep up with their renewals. The ACLS requires renewal every two years and the PCCN renewal period is every three years.
To renew your certifications, you will need to complete a certain amount of training hours and continuing education units to stay current with the field’s standards.
What are the salary and job outlooks for a telemetry nurse?
The need for telemetry nurses will always exist. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the need for RNs will grow by at least 7% which is faster than the national average. The telemetry nursing field pays competitively. According to the National Telemetry Association, this occupation has a median salary between $55 – $70K, but these nurses can earn up to $90K. This largely depends on the level of education, experience, and location.
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