What Is a Telemetry Nurse?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 22, 2021 | Published September 10, 2020

Updated February 22, 2021

Published September 10, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you're interested in pursuing a specialty nursing career where you would work closely with patients, then a job as a telemetry nurse may be right for you. With occasional moments of high-pressure, work as a telemetry nurse can be ideal for nurses who want to gradually prepare to work in an emergency department or ICU. Learning what a telemetry nurse does and the steps that are required to pursue this career path can help you decide if it's a good fit for you.

In this article, we discuss what a telemetry nurse is, their primary duties, the skills necessary for the role, the average salary and the steps that you could take to become one yourself.

What is a telemetry nurse?

Telemetry nurses are medical professionals who work with patients who require special monitoring, such as those who have been recently released from the intensive care unit of a hospital. Telemetry nurses monitor the vital signs of a patient and treat diseases, cardiac failure and other types of heart conditions. They may work with geriatric patients who have diabetes or other acute diagnoses.

Read more: The Telemetry Unit: Guide to Working as a Telemetry Nurse

What does a telemetry nurse do?

Telemetry nurses work with patients who are in need of constant care and monitoring, such as those in critical condition. They are responsible for using advanced medical equipment to monitor a patient's blood pressure, heart rate, breathing and other vitals. Some of their specific duties include:

  • Performing diagnostic tests

  • Administrating medications prescribed by the physician

  • Monitoring the patient's vital signs, such as blood pressure and heart rate

  • Assisting the doctors with procedures

  • Monitoring the output of electrocardiograms and keeping the doctor informed

  • Educating patients about cardiac issues

Related: 10 Nursing Fields to Consider for Your Career

How to become a telemetry nurse

Here is a look at the basic steps you need to take to pursue a career in telemetry nursing:

1. Pursue an education

Telemetry nurses are required to hold a license as a registered nurse (RN). In order to qualify, you must complete a bachelor's degree in nursing. Aspiring nurses could also complete an associate degree in nursing, which usually takes two years, and then complete an associate-to-bachelor's RN program. If a student already holds a bachelor's degree outside of the nursing field, some schools offer "second-degree" programs that allow students to pursue a bachelor's in nursing in a shorter amount of time.

As part of their nursing program, students complete coursework on topics like patient care, microbiology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, nursing research, nutrition and psychology. They are also required to complete clinical work to gain hands-on experience in a hospital or other medical facility.

Read more: Nursing Training Programs and Requirements: Everything You Need to Know

2. Pass the NCLEX-RN examination

After completing their nursing program, aspiring telemetry nurses must sit for and pass the NCLEX-RN examination to obtain their registered nurse license. The test has an average of 119 questions and graduates are given six hours to complete it. If they don't pass, they can re-take the exam after 45 days.

3. Obtain experience

Most employers prefer to hire telemetry nurses with hands-on experience in a medical facility. Because of the shortage of nurses and the need for nurses who can monitor patients in telemetry units, hospitals often offer internships for new graduates or staff RNs who are interested in becoming telemetry nurses.

4. Pursue certification

To qualify for telemetry nursing positions, registered nurses are typically required to obtain the Progressive Care Certified Nurse (PCCN) credential. Aspiring telemetry nurses should also consider certifications in:

  • Cardiac nursing

  • Neonatal nursing

  • Sleep disorders

  • Critical care

  • Neurological issues

A certification in cardiovascular telemetry nursing is available from the American Board of Cardiovascular Medicine. Nurses who are interested in remotely monitoring patients in tele-ICUs might want to consider the Tele-ICU Adult Acute/Critical Care Nursing Certification.

5. Consider a master's degree in nursing

If you think you might be interested in pursuing a management position, you may want to consider pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing. This degree qualifies you for a position as a telemetry clinical nurse manager. This is something to consider if you're looking for ways to increase your income as a telemetry nurse.

Skills telemetry nurses must have

There are several skills that telemetry nurses must have to succeed in their roles, including:

  • Communication: Telemetry nurses must be able to provide information to patients in a way that's easy-to-understand. They also must have strong listening skills to be able to understand the direction given to them by physicians and execute those instructions properly.

  • Attention to detail: They must continually monitor the health vitals of patients and run diagnostics testing, both of which require a strong attention to detail to ensure they notice any changes in patient status.

  • Empathy: Telemetry nurses must be compassionate and empathetic to understand the sympathize with their patients' problems and offer moral support and guidance.

  • Technology skills: In order to successfully monitor the patients in a telemetry unit, the nurses must be proficient in their use of the medical equipment, including the use of electrocardiogram machines to monitor the conditions of patients who suffered heart attacks or who are recovering after cardiac surgery.

  • Medical knowledge: Telemetry nurses must have extensive medical knowledge in order to familiarize themselves with a patient's medical history and be able to answer questions that a patient or their family might have.

  • Multi-tasking: Registered nurses in the telemetry unit are usually responsible for multiple patients at one time, so they need strong multi-tasking skills to make sure all tasks are completed and that patients are properly cared for.

Average salary for a telemetry nurse

The average salary for a telemetry nurse is $52.42 per hour, plus an additional $11,375 per year in overtime compensation. Most telemetry nurses make between $24.15 and $91.25 per hour. Some of the primary factors that impact a telemetry nurse's salary are geographic location and experience levels.

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