Vascular Nurses Week Honors Complicated Work

Vascular Nurses Week Honors Complicated Work

This week kicks off Vascular Nurses Week, the annual September celebration of the vascular nursing specialty and the work of nurses in this area.

Vascular nurses work with patients who have different kinds of conditions or illnesses that impact the circulatory system. Because the vascular system is responsible for transporting blood and lymph fluids throughout the body, there’s a lot of ground for vascular nurses to cover. Vascular nurses understand how the veins and arteries in the body work and how the job of bringing fresh oxygen and blood to organs while also removing waste keeps the body functioning in optimal health.

The Society of Vascular Nursing is a great resource as a professional organization devoted to nurses in this specialty. Vascular nurses often work in outpatient settings or in hospitals to treat patients recovering from surgery, undergoing treatment, or maintaining their long-term health. They will see patients who have conditions as varied as blood cancers (such as lymphoma), cardiovascular disease,  or varicose veins. With such a range of conditions, vascular nurses treat patients of all ages and from all backgrounds.

Some patients under the care of a vascular nurse will have minor symptoms (such as some varicose vein treatment) and others will require extensive treatment and rehabilitation (from heart surgery). Vascular nurses are in an excellent position to help patients learn how to recover from a procedure, how to manage on-going symptoms, and to offer evidence-backed education on lifestyle changes.

Whether they are monitoring a patient immediately after a procedure or continuing an on-going relationship with a long-term patient, vascular nurses will check in with patients to see how they are progressing, to ask about how their medication is making them feel and if they have any side-effects, and to find out about current or new symptoms. They may be tasked with giving direction on how to make important lifestyle changes to diet and exercise, or they might help patients who need to learn how to find methods to reduce stress that will work for them. Because some vascular-based conditions, such as hypertension, disproportionately impact traditionally underrepresented communities, nurses should be especially aware of patients who may be at an increased risk.

When thinking about lifestyle changes–whether that’s increasing exercise, following a low-fat or low-salt diet, or reducing stress–nurses will want to really listen to a patient to find out about their typical days and how they live. Changes that work for patients are the ones that consider their particular barriers to following what is instructed. A mom with three kids, a full-time job, and parents to look after may not be able to follow a routine that includes an hour of daily vigorous exercise and time for meditation. She might, however, be able to fit in short bursts of jumping jacks or marching in place–both of which can reduce stress and count as exercise–and longer planned sessions. For a grandfather who hosts lots of family get togethers, where traditional food is an essential part of the gathering, implementing a strict diet will be nearly impossible to follow. In this case, some recipe makeovers can help as can listening to the patient to figure out what other healthy choices could be included to help him balance any heavier choices.

Vascular nurses play a vital role in how their patients navigate the many conditions related to the vascular system. This annual awareness week helps spread awareness and celebrate the work these nurses do.

Marking Vascular Nurses Week

Marking Vascular Nurses Week

September 5 kicked off Vascular Nurses Week, a week celebrated every year in honor of the work vascular nurses do.

The Society for Vascular Nursing helps promote this week which is dedicated to the vascular nurses who assist patients with health, lifestyle, and activity issues surrounding vascular disease.

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.

Happy Vascular Nurses Week!