As Vascular Nurses Week comes to a close, the impact of the work vascular nurses perform each day is clear. Vascular nurses work with patients who have vascular disease or who may be at high risk for vascular diseases including everything from blood clots to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease to circulation problems.
Patients depend on nurses in this specialty to help them treat and manage their diseases and so will turn to them for education about how to recover from surgery from having a stent or how to manage high blood pressure or peripheral vascular disease. Vascular nurses are also excellent sources of information on how to live with chronic conditions such as varicose veins. For patients whose family history shows a strong genetic predisposition to vascular disease, a vascular nurse will work with the patient’s team to help educate them about medication and surgical options, lifestyle changes and choices, and even symptoms to be especially mindful of.
As a career, vascular nursing offers extensive options and nurses can find the career track that fits their interests, pace, and preferred schedule. Nurses who choose to work in this specialty will see a range of patient ages and conditions, and they have the ability to focus in on specific populations with the choice of work location and setting. Nurses can work in hospital settings where they may assist with surgery, lead patient preparation and recovery from procedures, and be on the medical team with emergency situations. Vascular nurses can also work in outpatient settings and clinics where they will see patients who are coming for routine blood work, post-surgical care, and scans to help diagnose or monitor any problems. Other options can include home care.
These nurses work with a complex network of veins and systems that can change quickly. They need to be current in all the latest evidence-based practices so they can treat patients with the most current knowledge and also let them know about potential treatment options that are on the horizon.
As with other nursing specialties, career choices such as membership in a professional association is especially beneficial. Nurses can look into all the resources the Society for Vascular Nursing offers including mentorship options, patient resources, and conferences. Many nurses use annual conferences as a way to connect with other nurses all across the country and to learn about new developments in their specialty. They can bring those ideas and the energy from the conference back to propose potential improvements in their own workplaces.
For continuing knowledge, obtaining certification is an excellent career move. the Society for Vascular Nursing (SVN) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offer the Cardiac Vascular Nursing Certification (CV-BC) which gives nurses the professional knowledge and recognition of expertise in the field.
Vascular nursing requires nurses who are dedicated to patient care, lifelong learning, and who have a passion for helping patients live the healthiest lives possible. Rates of vascular diseases continue to rise and the industry needs more nurses in this specialty, so the job outlook remains strong.
Nurses in this specialty have a particular interest in the circulatory system and how it operates and impacts so many aspects of patient health. A vascular nurse’s role is hands-on and allows for direct patient care and interaction. Nurses in this role may work in a specialized office, a hospital, or in various outpatient settings. They work with patients who have received a new diagnosis and those who have been managing their vascular disease for decades. As patients age, their needs and conditions will change and that requires vascular nurses to understand disease progression over a lifetime.
Patients who need treatment from vascular nurses might have a variety of simple or complex health challenges. Within the spectrum of vascular diseases are conditions that impact the arteries and veins such as arterial diseases, blood clots, aneurysms, or varicose veins.
Vascular nurses work with patients to help treat their conditions, manage their symptoms, and educate themselves about vascular disease. Nurses who are interested in this path will need to obtain their RN license and then will want to work within the cardiovascular field to gain an understanding of the circulatory systems and how vascular disease can change health.
As nurses work within the field, they can seek certification in vascular nursing or cardiac vascular nursing. This kind of advanced credentialing helps nurses provide the best patient care and will also boost nurses’ confidence. Certified nurses are the experts in their fields and the additional knowledge gained from preparation for the exam will serve patients best. Certified nurses are current on the most recent evidence-based practices and so can offer the kind of patient care that is progressive and based in rigorous practices. And, as in most nursing specialties, advanced degrees help professional nurses move their careers ahead faster and have more options for nursing practices.
One of the primary goals of a vascular nurse is to educate patients on vascular diseases and the changes they can make to have positive outcomes wherever possible. Lifestyle changes can have a big impact for some patients, so teaching about the benefits of exercise on improving blood flow and elasticity of veins or the benefits of losing even a small amount of weight to help lessen pressure and stress on the circulatory system can reap huge rewards. When patients implement positive changes and begin to see the results they want, nurses are rewarded by seeing the direct impact of their work.
Not all patients can improve their conditions with lifestyle changes, so vascular nurses are able to talk with patients from a point of true empathy to understand the discomfort, lifestyle impacts, and fear that vascular disease can bring. Vascular nurses need to understand medications such as blood thinners, co-morbidities including diabetes, and the impacts of activities like smoking on the circulatory system. With this broad approach in mind, they can help vascular disease patients thrive.
This week’s Vascular Nurses Week (September 9-15) recognizes the important role vascular nurses play in the health of patients with vascular conditions or disease.
Requiring a broad skill set, vascular nurses care for patients in their home setting or can assist in surgical procedures. Their specific expertise is required for anything ranging from varicose vein surgery to amputation procedures to cardiac stent placement. In the course of a day they can care for those with leg ulcers or those suffering from peripheral artery disease. Their treatment and care can range from education about vein health. They educate about lifestyle factors that can improve it to helping patients and their families understand infection prevention and control.
Vascular nurses work as part of a team to care for patients, so communication, collaboration, and attention to detail are essential skills for them to have. Because they might work in emergency situations, they must have excellent critical thinking skills. Those will help them quickly assess what’s going on and determine how they can help.
To provide the best possible nursing care and to follow the highest of standards in care, obtaining a certification is an excellent career move. Offered through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the cardiac/vascular certification is valid for five years and offers an excellent way to advance your knowledge.
Because vascular nurses see patients for a variety of conditions, they gain experience on how other conditions add to the complexity of patients’ vascular care and treatment. Diabetes and heart disease are a big influence on vascular health as are lifestyle choices like diet, exercise, and smoking. Being overweight can also have an effect on the proper function of vascular systems.
Vascular nurses are tasked with providing patients with educational materials about preventing the development or worsening of vascular disease, but also how to care for themselves if it has developed. Given that vascular disease cuts across all demographics and locations, vascular nurses encounter many cultures and attitudes that are closely entwined with the very things that impact health. Knowing the cultures and habits of populations served is important. By having cultural competency, nurses will be able to help develop care plans that will work with the patient’s beliefs and traditions and therefore, be effective.
With this partnership approach, nurses have the opportunity to develop close relationships with their patients and see the positive impacts of their care. Many vascular diseases are painful and being able to see improvement in a patient’s comfort is rewarding and inspiring.
If you think vascular nursing is a good career match for you, check out the Society for Vascular Nursing to find out more about joining a professional network or learning more about training and education.
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