The job profile of telemetry nurses involves working with patients who are critically ill and need the use of sophisticated monitoring devices to track the rate of heart, blood pressure, breathing rate, and level of oxygen. The monitoring is required to be done by nurses at the patient bedside and they are also expected to carry out normal duties like providing medicines and any other care required by the patient. The nurses are responsible for monitoring the vital signs of the patient, ensure proper transmission of data is done through mobile telemetry if so required and to alert attending physicians in case of patient distress. Nursing practitioners, including clinical nursing specialists, may choose telemetry as a sub-specialization, most often combined with other sub-specializations such as critical or acute care. The American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) classifies telemetry nurses under the progressive care nurse category.
The Need for Mobile Telemetry
A telemetry nurse will usually be attending to patients who are critically ill and need constant monitoring. The patients could be progressing from a less critical to a state that is more critical as in those going in for surgery or the vice versa when patients come out of surgery or those who are diagnosed with having a condition that is life-threatening and progressive. The importance of mobile telemetry has become more in recent times as the number of beds available for critical care has not kept pace with the ever-increasing number of patients requiring such services.
The hospital units that telemetry nurse work in are known by different names such as intermediate care units, telemetry units, direct observation units, transitional care units, step-down units, etc. Whatever be the name, the sole purpose of these units is to provide patients requiring continuous monitoring with critical care. The usual reasons include cardiac surgery, congestive heart failure, heart attacks, advanced cancer, neurological diseases, COPD, and renal failure.
Essential Skills for Telemetry Nurses
Nurses who choose to specialize in telemetry nursing need a wide-ranging set of skills that encompass ability to connect the appropriate telemetry devices to the patient, providing the required degree of life support, knowledge of techniques for monitoring cardiac rhythms, data interpretation and relevant treatment. A vital aspect of the duty includes monitoring patients who need to undergo surgeries, as well as those patients who are undergoing invasive procedures or recuperating from such procedures.
Nurses are also required to recognize the symptoms of respiratory or cardiopulmonary emergencies and initiate standard interventions in order to stabilize the condition of the patient. Telemetry nurses are also required to have in-depth knowledge of calculating the dosage of drugs required by patients, administering the infusion of medication on a continuous basis, and subsequently monitoring the patient to study and report the medication effect. The website of Mobile Telemetry LLC offers exhaustive information on various aspects of applications of telemetry.
Since telemetry is a sub-specialization for nurses in advanced practice, typically skills relating to telemetry are gained while employed as a clinical nurse. Usually hospitals will employ nurses who have acquired a nursing degree in a four year bachelor’s course that usually equips them with skills required for handling sophisticated equipment and interpreting data. There are courses that impart skills in advanced electrocardiogram (EKG) that are useful for nurses wishing to pursue careers in cardiac telemetry. Candidates that are MSN-prepared are preferred for filling senior positions in telemetry nursing.
Most hospitals will seek certifications in Basic Life Support (BLS) as well as Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) from nurses seeking telemetry positions. The American Heart Association, among other organizations, conducts short courses covering a host of issues such as recognizing emergencies that are life-threatening, administering CPR, the use of automated external defibrillator (AED), and how to relieve choking. The ACLS course gives more training on advance critical care techniques.
Nurses in possession of a RN license that is unrestricted can seek certification from the AACN Certification Corporation to achieve the designations of Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN), Tele-ICU Adult Acute/Critical Care Nursing Certification (CCRN-E), and Progressive Care Critical Nurse (PCCN). All certification are valid for three years and can be renewed by earning one hundred CERPs (Continuing Education Recognition Points). These points can be earned by taking classes on continuing education, work experience as well as professional activities. Advanced certifications are also available from AACN such as Critical Care Nurse Specialist (CCNS), and Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNPC). Aspiring cardiovascular telemetry nurses can also obtain certification from the American Board of Cardiovascular Medicine and Credentialing.
Author bio: Michael Turner is the senior marketing manager at Mobile Telemetry LLC, a leading services provider in mobile telemetry.