Cardiac Telemetry Unit (Plus How To Become a Telemetry Nurse)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated September 2, 2022 | Published February 25, 2020

Updated September 2, 2022

Published February 25, 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.

The telemetry unit of a hospital can be an essential location for patient medical care. It's where professionals, like telemetry nurses, monitor cardiac patients remotely through the use of sophisticated telemetry equipment. This can help patients in their recovery processes after surgeries, procedures and other cardiac treatments or interventions.

In this article, we describe what the telemetry unit is, explain what a telemetry nurse is, describe what they do and list steps on how to become one.

What is a cardiac telemetry unit?

The cardiac telemetry unit of a medical facility is typically a group of patient rooms that have medical equipment set up, such as electrocardiograms (EKGs) and heart monitors. They often contain additional equipment used for monitoring patient vital signs. Vital sign monitors continuously transmit vital data to a nearby station that telemetry nurses can monitor. These nurses receive special training specific to the equipment so they can monitor aspects of a patient's health remotely.

The telemetry nurse monitoring the telemetry unit can provide cardiac intervention or other immediate medical care should conditions in a patient's vital signs change, worsen or otherwise become unstable.

Related: 12 Healthcare Jobs That Pay Well

What is a telemetry nurse?

telemetry nurse works with patients who suffer from heart disease, heart failure and complications associated with cardiac conditions. Telemetry nurses may also provide medical care to patients recovering from cardiac procedures like coronary bypass surgeries or stent placements.

Telemetry nurses often work with patients in the telemetry unit of a hospital after being transferred from cardiac and intensive care units. It is also important to note that telemetry nurses use specialized equipment to monitor patients' progress and provide cardiac intervention methods in the event of an emergency.

Related: 10 High-Paying Nursing Jobs (And How To Get One)

What does a telemetry nurse do?

Telemetry nurses provide medical care for many kinds of patients who might suffer from cardiovascular issues, renal failure, heart failure and even cancer. Working as a telemetry nurse can require a variety of skills to succeed in the role.

Common responsibilities for a telemetry nurse include:

  • Caring for cardiac patients and patients suffering from other correlated health problems like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cancer

  • Using medical devices and equipment like EKG and breathing machines to evaluate and monitor patient heart and respiratory rhythms

  • Administering IVs, medications and other medical treatments

  • Providing treatment and care plans and helping patients follow them

  • Educating patients on diagnoses and treatment methods, medications, records and other medical information

  • Monitoring telemetry units of hospitals, recovery facilities, outpatient surgery centers and other medical facilities that use cardiac telemetry equipment

  • Recording patient vital signs like temperature, breathing and blood pressure and monitoring patients for changes in health status

  • Assisting cardiologists before, during and after cardiac procedures

  • Using diagnostic tests to evaluate a patient's cardiac health

Telemetry nurses may also complete tasks and take on other common nurse medical responsibilities. For instance, telemetry nurses may provide basic care like performing routine wellness checkups and monitoring patients' symptoms.

Related: Interview Question: "Why Do You Want to Be a Nurse?"

Where do telemetry nurses work?

Typically, telemetry nurses work in the telemetry unit of a hospital to provide care to patients transferred out of the intensive care unit (ICU) but still require consistent monitoring. While most telemetry nurses work in the telemetry units of hospitals, they might also work in outpatient surgery centers and long-term care facilities.

Telemetry nurses can also choose to work as independent contractors in home health roles. Here, the nurse may work with patients who need constant monitoring, are recovering from cardiac procedures or need continuous use of vital sign monitors and equipment.

Related: How To Write a Telemetry Nurse Resume (With Template and Example)

How to become a telemetry nurse

If you're interested in becoming a telemetry nurse, here are some steps you can take:

1. Complete a nursing degree

Before you can work as a telemetry nurse, you must first complete an Associate's or Bachelor's Degree in Nursing (ADN and BSN, respectively). While an Associate in Nursing is the minimum most employers require for RNs and telemetry nurses, many medical facilities require you to possess at least a BSN. Getting a higher degree can qualify you for more advanced positions and make it easier to transfer into different nursing specialties, like telemetry.

Related: BSN vs. ADN: What They Are and How Their Programs Differ

2. Obtain RN certification

Once you have obtained either your Associate in Nursing or Bachelor's in Nursing Degree, you can take the National Council Licensing Examination for Registered Nursing (NCLEX-RN) to obtain your nursing certification. Typically, to qualify for certification in the telemetry field, you are required to have at least one year of nursing experience.

Related: Nursing Certifications: What You Need To Know

3. Gain work experience

Since the certification requirements for telemetry nursing can require a minimum number of years of nursing experience, after obtaining your RN certification, it can be a good idea to gain one to three years of work experience in the profession before completing any certifications in the telemetry field. You can often discover nursing opportunities online. Look at the education and experience requirements to see which opportunities align with your qualifications.

Related: Top 20 Nursing Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

4. Earn a certification in the telemetry field

There are two primary certifications that nurses can pursue to work in Telemetry. Getting one, or both, of these certifications can qualify you for roles in the telemetry unit. The first certification, The Advanced Cardiac Life Support certification (ACLS), you can get through the American Heart Association. Participants receive approximately two days of training for a certificate that lasts two years.

The Progressive Care Certified Nurse certification (PCCN), from the Association of Critical-Care Nurses, has several specific requirements that may take longer to meet than the ACLS certificate. Two requirements you may need to meet include working a minimum of three to five years as an RN and working a set number of hours in acute patient care.

Related: What Can You Do With an Associate Degree in Nursing?

5. Adhere to certification standards

Both the ACLS and the PCCN certifications require renewal every few years, typically through continuing education or training credit hours. The ACLS is a two-year certificate that can require seven hours of continuing education to renew each period. The PCCN certification is renewable every three years, and you may be required to complete continuing education or training hours.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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