Since the mid-20th century heart disease has been the United State’s leading cause of death. Cancer has held second place in leading American deaths since 1951. There’s now a new top cause of death.
COVID-19 earned the top spot during the first week of December 2020. Unfortunately, this will continue to get worse in the coming months. Healthcare providers are seeing long-term damage to the heart following coronavirus recovery.
This increases the need for telemetry units to provide continuous cardiac monitoring. No one knows when the pandemic will end. But healthcare providers know that more patients will need cardiac telemetry.
Keep reading to learn about becoming a telemetry nurse.
Telemetry technology provides continuous recording and transmission of data. This data travels to another location that’s conducting the monitoring. Experts analyze the data and create a plan of action as needed.
In the healthcare setting, cardiac telemetry monitors the electrical impulses from the heart. Each heartbeat relies on the correct pattern of electrical stimuli through the heart. The heart muscles contract when stimulated by this electrical impulse.
The machinery sends a “picture” of the electrical pattern to a telemetry monitoring unit. This picture is the electrocardiogram (EKG). Healthcare professionals learn to recognize normal and abnormal EKG patterns.
They also watch the patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. This allows skilled nurses to quickly identify the onset of possible complications.
Telemetry cardiac monitoring uses a small device connected to electrodes on the patient’s chest. This device sends data to the remote monitoring center. The center may be in the hospital or another location for outpatient monitoring.
What Are Telemetry Units?
Patients may be admitted to a telemetry unit to receive 24-hour cardiac monitoring. Many patients move to this unit following care in the ICU. These patients can have heart problems or other medical conditions.
Many patients receiving treatment or recovering from COVID-19 need cardiac telemetry. This allows the medical staff to identify potential cardiac side-effects quickly. Early treatment often leads to better outcomes.
Patients aren’t connected to a monitor by wires like they are in the ICU, emergency room, or surgery. They can move about freely with the telemetry device in a pocket or attached to their clothing.
Patients may show cardiac changes or symptoms when moving about versus lying in bed. Seeing how the heart responds to physical activity and emotional stressors are key. This allows the provider to develop and adjust the plan of care.
How Does the Coronavirus Pandemic Increase the Need for Telemetry Units?
As of December 31, 2020, there were 20,495,759 cases of COVID-19 in the United States. There have been 355,078 deaths and 12,131,318 patients have recovered.
This means there’s a potential for over 12 million people to develop heart problems. COVID-19-related heart disease may last for years or for the rest of their lives.
Cardiac telemetry care will be key to faster identification and treatment of complications. Telemetry monitoring is vital to improving health outcomes.
The Telemetry Nurse’s Role
Telemetry nurses complete extra training to learn EKG rhythm interpretation. They provide physical, psychological, and emotional patient care. These nurses also analyze the patient’s vital signs, oxygen level, and EKG pattern.
The telemetry nursing role requires competence in working with the machinery. This includes troubleshooting equipment-related problems. Many telemetry nurses are Registered Nurses who have completed the certification.
The telemetry unit is high-paced and needs nurses who can make quick life-managing decisions. They also compassionately care for the patient’s worried family members. These nurses must have the ability to effectively work in this stressful patient care environment.
Since these patients need care 24 hours a day, the nurses must work in shifts. This means you may work days, evenings, nights, and/or weekends and holidays. Many facilities use 12-hour shifts.
How to Become Certified in Telemetry Monitoring
Often, nurses don’t feel like they have the time or energy to work on further training. How can you commit to a class time when your shifts aren’t regular, and you get called to work extra shifts? Education companies have heard these concerns.
You now have the option to take courses online at your own pace. The telemetry nurse curriculum includes:
- Analyzing heart rates, blood pressure, and EKG rhythms using remote telemetry equipment
- Correct and confident EKG rhythm strip interpretation for critical or high-risk patients
- Developing the high-level skills needed to care for critical patients
- Preparation to successfully pass the international accreditation in telemetry monitoring
You also receive reference materials. This includes anatomy and physiology for nurses, physicians, and PAs.
Holding certifications in addition to your Registered Nurse license, bolsters your resume. Employers see that you value continuing education and raising your skill level. This increases your competitiveness in the marketplace and during salary negotiations.
The Telemetry Certification in Cardiac Arrhythmia Interpretation Exam
You may feel anxious about taking the telemetry certification exam. Following is an overview of the test so you know what to expect.
This exam lasts 180 minutes and includes 303 questions. You must score at least 85 percent to pass the test.
If you don’t pass the first time, you’re allowed to take the test three times within three months. After that, you must wait three months before making additional attempts.
Once you begin the exam, you’re not allowed to save and stop taking the exam. This means it’s vital that you’re free of distractions and have a stable internet connection.
Are You Interested in Gaining More Advanced Skills?
A long-term effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is increasing long-term heart complications. Becoming a certified telemetry nurse allows you to work in telemetry units.
The National Telemetry Association (NTA)® offers several packages for you to choose from. Each one is tailored to your experience level. We have comprehensive online courses that teach cardiac telemetry monitoring.
If you have some experience you may choose courses with varying levels of exam preparation. You can also opt to just take the exam. Register today for telemetry training or certification courses.