American Heart Month is wrapping up and hopefully nurses have picked up some excellent and innovative heart healthy tips. But heart health is a crucial issue and deserves attention year-round. One of the best ways to improve your heart health and to get your patients motivated to take care of their own hearts is to be educated and up-to-date on all the latest information. It never hurts to have a few new ideas to motivate patients, ease their concerns, or even challenge yourself.

Luckily nurses have a great resource in the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association (PCNA). The organization wants to help nurses, from student nurses to nurse leaders, encourage cardiovascular health and promote cardiovascular risk reduction.

Any nurse, no matter what setting he or she works in or whatever his or her role is, can reap the benefits of PCNA membership,” says Lynne Braun, PhD, CNP, FAHA, FPCNA, FAAN, of the Rush University Medical Center’s Heart and Vascular Institute in Chicago, and a board member of PCNA.

Cardiovascular health affects so much of the body that promoting taking care of your heart is really promoting total health. “The risk factors for cardiovascular disease are risk factors for so many chronic diseases,” says Braun.

Nurses looking for some new ways to promote heart health will find PCNA’s Heart Healthy Toolbox a valuable resource for ideas within their own practices or for their own heart health. The toolbox offers resources for overall professional heart healthy tips and ideas, as well as resources for healthy eating, exercise, and general health to reduce cardiovascular risk.

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PCNA, like many professional nursing associations, also offers opportunities for nurses that aren’t always available in other ways. There are chances to assume leadership roles in local chapters across the country or to present posters at the association’s annual symposium (this year in April).

Continuing education credits are offered on the website through webinars and activities. Scholarships, fellowships, and awards are also part of PCNA’s offerings.

If policy is something you have wanted to explore, the advocacy arm of PCNA is one way to get started, says Braun. Opportunities for involvement can match your available time. PCNA helps nurses contact members of Congress to advocate for heart health and to ask them to act on certain issues.

As with many professional associations, membership with like-minded nurses offers networking and knowledge sharing that’s invaluable to your career. If cardiovascular health is a professional or personal interest, PCNA might be an association that can help you.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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