The national nursing shortage continues to be a looming healthcare crisis. Healthcare agencies predict the number of graduating nurses will not meet the demand.
Demand for registered nurses (RN) grew by 19% since 2012.
Demand and salaries for telemetry RNs grew at an even higher rate.
What is telemetry? Telemetry uses technology to watch cardiac patients. Nurses then track and report on data received.
RNs monitor the telemetry equipment. They then provide doctors with key data to assess a patient’s progress. The RNs also work at the bedside with patients they are following.
Existing RNs can become telemetry certified through testing. Some hospitals offer telemetry internships.
What Is Telemetry
Telemetry devices are used in software development, meteorology, intelligence, as well as healthcare.
Healthcare professionals use telemetry to monitor patient heart activity.
Telemetry RNs use devices to monitor:
- Blood pressure
- Oxygen saturation
- Heart rhythms
- Other data
Telemetry monitoring requires placing electrodes on the patient’s body. A wire, attached to each electrode, also connects to a small device. The device transmits patient data to a computer.
The patient information displays on the computer.
The RN interprets the information. Primary healthcare providers assess the data to determine patient progression.
Why Is Telemetry Important
Hospitals often face shortages of beds in critical care units. The deficits increase the need for telemetry.
When there are no beds, placing patients in step-up or step-down units is then necessary. These units are not as well-equipped as a critical care unit.
To ensure continuous monitoring, telemetry nurses patients follow these patients.
Telemetry nurses track patients who are critical or may become vital.
Mobile cardiac telemetry tracks seriously-ill patients outside of hospitals. Cardiac patients with problems, such as diabetes, kidney failure, and obesity are of particular concern.
If a crisis occurs, healthcare professionals receive immediate notification.
Progressive Care Nurses
The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) identifies progressive care areas. These areas care for acutely ill patients. Progressive areas include telemetry units.
Telemetry nurses monitor the patient’s cardiac functions and have the following skills:
- Interpretation and treatment of cardiac rhythms
- Basic and advanced life support
- Drug dosage calculation
- Ability to administer IVs
- Observation patients for the effects of medication
- Monitoring of patients before, during, and after surgery and other procedures
- Ability to recognize the signs of cardiopulmonary and respiratory emergencies
- Capacity to start standard interventions
Telemetry RNs also work at the bedside. They administer drugs, perform EKGs, and educate patients and families.
Telemetry RNs have approximately five patients at a time. The job can be intense, and telemetry nurses must make quick decisions.
Telemetry RNs can receive a large number of false alarms requiring no action. The number of alerts can lead to alarm fatigue.
The fatigue can lead to missed or delayed response to alarms.
To reduce the number of false alarms, telemetry technicians monitor the data. They contact the bedside nurse or stop false alerts.
Telemetry technicians, also called monitoring technicians, monitor heart rhythms. They also apply EKG leads to patients.
Technicians are trained to do the following:
- Perform stress testing
- Holter monitoring
- Monitor cardiac-related vitals
- Analyze data for critically-ill patients
From 2010 to 2020, growth for telemetry technicians was 29%. Training to become a telemetry technician is approximately 120 hours.
How to Become a Telemetry Nurse
Currently, no schools or colleges offer majors or certificates in telemetry nursing.
Persons interested in telemetry nursing must go through a series of steps.
The first step is to get a registered nursing license. A nursing degree involves completing a 2-year associate’s degree or a 4-year bachelor’s degree program. If you want to manage a telemetry unit, consider getting a master’s degree as well.
After graduation, you must pass the NCLEX exam to get a license to practice nursing.
The next step is to get your Progressive Care Clinical Nurse Certification (PCCN). The PCCN certification is for nurses providing direct care to acutely-ill adults.
PCCN candidates must work with acutely ill adults to be eligible for the exam. Candidates must complete 1,750 hours of work over two years or 2,000 hours over five years.
When your hours are complete, your supervisor will need to verify this. You can then apply to take the PCCN certification exam. ACCN administers the exam.
ACCN provides workbooks and sample tests to help you through the process.
With PCCN certification, you can work in acute areas such as telemetry. PCCN certified nurses also work in the following areas:
- Intermediate care
- Direct observation
- Transitional care
- Emergency departments
The National Telemetry Association (NTA) offers telemetry certification. This certification advances your credentials as a telemetry nurse.
When hiring telemetry nurses, hospitals prefer nurses with at least a bachelor’s degree. Online associate to bachelor’s programs can help you reach that goal.
Telemetry nurses need technical and data analysis skills. Taking courses in information technology can help.
Minimum nursing skills you need include the following:
- EKG monitoring
- Echocardiogram monitoring
- Vital sign detection
- Wound dressing
- Medicinal administration
You also need extensive knowledge of cardiovascular health. Monitored patients have cardiac conditions. Understanding and interpreting the data received from the devices is key to this role.
Although not required, you can improve your knowledge of cardiovascular health through additional credentialing.
The Cardiovascular Credentialing Institue (CCI) focuses on cardiovascular technologies and knowledge. CCI offers two certifications:
the certified cardiographic technician assessment (CCT), and the certified rhythm analysis technician (CRAT).
The CCT covers fundamental technology skills required by telemetry nurses.
The CRAT focuses on recognizing cardiac rhythms.
You Can Do Telemetry Training Online
As described above, there are currently no programs offering telemetry programs. There are courses offered through continuing professional education. These courses teach specific aspects of telemetry.
NTA offers an online telemetry course preparing nurses for certification.
The course is self-paced and designed for all levels of learners.
Upon completion, students can take the telemetry certification exam.
Telemetry is one of the highest demand specialties in the field of nursing. Salary and employment opportunities continue growing at a faster pace than other specialties.
If you want to learn more about what is telemetry contact the NTA website. We provide training and information for nurses, technicians, and other healthcare professionals.