Registered Nurse – Coronary Care Unit

Being in the field of nursing, it may mean that a registered nurse must have a distinctive area of specialization wherein his or her skills and attitude fit in. Some registered nurses may be generalists while some enjoy being specialists like a coronary care unit nurse. As a registered nurse, have you ever thought of getting into the Coronary Care Unit? Coronary Care Unit by the sound of its term may mean “critical” or “precise”. A nurse in that area may be seen or expected to be very concise in monitoring and detecting signs and symptoms of the heart in particular. With the advances in the health care technology, Coronary Care Unit needs registered nurses open to these sophistication especially in taking care the vital organ of the human body – the heart.

Registered nurses in a Coronary Care Unit are enriched with knowledge, skills and attitude while using the nursing process in this special area. Amidst the beeping machines and indicators, it is a challenge for a coronary care unit nurse to get into what’s really going on the patients whether he responds on the medications or not. Getting into this field may mean a lot of effort in the nurse’s part. Here are some of the steps in entering that specialization:

The Environment

coronary care unit

Coronary Care Unit is a designated area of a health care institution wherein patients are admitted for close monitoring. Critically ill patients get the best care for the whole 24 hours in a day. As patients are very dependent to the nurses in this area, a registered nurse must be ready to be an advocate of the patient. Close observation over the patients can be made possible with a good clinical eye as well as utilizing the latest technology used in monitoring patients with coronary problems. Therefore it is very helpful to be knowledgeable about the latest machines used in the facility. Most machines may include pulse oximeter, cardiac monitor, ventilator, intravenous infusions etc. The place generally may include a serene environment promoting proper rest for cardiac patients.

The Patients

Coronary Care Unit deals with patients with various heart ailments and its complications. Generally, intensive nursing care is needed by these patients. This means that as a registered nurse, it is your responsibility to ensure the safety of acutely and critically care patients. Outmost care may be seen in the progress of the patient, a bed-sore free status and other indicators of quality nursing care. As a registered in the coronary care unit, it is also a must to create an environment for the patient that is stress free as it may lessen also the straining of their heart muscles. As patients may have many contraptions on their body to provide life-support, registered nurses must ensure they are all intact, in good condition and does not irritate the surrounding tissues.

The Responsibilities

Registered nurses in the Coronary Care Unit are responsible of the following activities:

  1. Taking the vital signs hourly or depending on the status of the patient.
  2. Giving the proper diet, most of the patients have nasogastric tubes or feeding tubes. Making sure the patency of the feeding tubes must always be ensured by nurses to prevent aspiration.
  3. Giving intravenous medications whether by push or by infusion pumps. Pharmacological knowledge and medication reactions must also be taken in mind as nurses monitor the status of the patients.
  4. Provide privacy of the patients even though they are unconscious. During procedures, nurses must ensure that only the needed body parts for the said process must be exposed.
  5. Provide a safe and stress-free environment as the patient gains his or her independence.
  6. Going with the patient with all the diagnostic procedures and other modalities on the treatment.
  7. Protect the rights and interests of the patient in the times that he or she is in his or her weak state. The nurse must voice out in behalf of the patient especially in the health care team.
  8. Provide psychological support and glimpse of hope after surviving such coronary operations and ailments.

The Requirements

In order to enter this special area, a nurse must initially pass through the following steps:

  1. Bachelor of Science in Nursing – Taking this course may lead the aspiring nurse to attain the registered nurse status. Examination provided by the Board of Nurses must also be passed after graduation.
  2. Certifications – There are numerous organizations known by hospitals that provide certifications that a registered nurse is fit to work in a critical care unit. For instance, the American Association of Critical Care Nurses has a specified course for coronary care unit nurses.
  3. Critical Care Nursing Experience- Nothing beats experience in the clinical area to teach you the real world of nursing and dealing with acute and critical patients.


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Daisy Jane Antipuesto RN MN

Currently a Nursing Local Board Examination Reviewer. Subjects handled are Pediatric, Obstetric and Psychiatric Nursing. Previous work experiences include: Clinical instructor/lecturer, clinical coordinator (Level II), caregiver instructor/lecturer, NC2 examination reviewer and staff/clinic nurse. Areas of specialization: Emergency room, Orthopedic Ward and Delivery Room. Also an IELTS passer.

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