Specialty Spotlight

Specialty Spotlight: All About Progressive Care/Telemetry Nursing


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For student nurses and new grads considering a career in progressive care/telemetry, Aust has some insights about this high-need specialty, which she shares with NurseZone.com. 

Telemetry nursing is an exciting career option for nurses who have a special interest in technology, and want to combine this technical expertise with interpersonal skills, according to 24-year veteran, Mary Pat Aust, RN, MS. Aust, who is a clinical practice specialist with the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN), has more than two decades of experience in all aspects of critical care nursing, including bedside, education and directorship.  

What can a new nurse in the telemetry specialty expect in the first few months on the job?  

As with any new nursing role, there will be additional education required for this specialty. Nurses caring for progressive care/telemetry patients must be able to demonstrate competence in the following areas:  

  • Basic cardiac rhythm monitoring techniques, interpretation and treatment  
  • Basic and advanced life support  
  • Drug dosage, calculations, administration of continuous medication infusions for drugs such as agents that affect cardiac function and blood pressure, anti-arrhythmic agents and platelet inhibitors  
  • Patient monitoring for patients before, during and after some invasive procedures such as cardiac catheterization  
  • Recognition of the signs and symptoms of cardiopulmonary and respiratory emergencies and initiation of standardized interventions to stabilize the patient awaiting transfer to a critical care unit  
  • Recognition of and evaluation of the patient and family's need for enhanced involvement in the care of the patient to facilitate the transition from hospital to home  

Why is telemetry such a high-need nursing specialty?  

Telemetry is a high-need area because of the shortage of ICU beds. There is often no place to move patients once they’re out of the ICU, so more hospitals are designing progressive care/step-down/telemetry units to move the flow of patients, and there is a need for progressive care nurses to care for these patients.  

What is the most challenging thing about being a new telemetry nurse and how can this be overcome?  

As with any new work environment, fear of the unknown is the biggest challenge for nurses new to progressive care/telemetry nursing. To help overcome this, nurses considering working in this environment might schedule time to shadow a progressive care/telemetry nurse for a shift or two.  

You can also supplement shadowing a telemetry nurse by reading journal articles pertinent to progressive care/telemetry nursing is also helpful.  

It is also comforting to know that no nurse knows how to care for progressive care/telemetry patients without training and allowing themselves time to obtain and synthesize the information. This knowledge can assist in overcoming the challenge.  

How can new grads prepare to advance in their career?  

As mentioned, shadowing a progressive care/telemetry nurse, as well as learning about telemetry nursing topics will help prepare new graduates—and interested student nurses—to advance their career.  

What advice can you offer a new graduate looking for a job in telemetry nursing?  

If student nurses or new graduates are interested in a job in progressive care/telemetry nursing, I would encourage them to use their final time in school to work with nurses in their area of interest. This will help them gain a better understanding of what the progressive care/telemetry environment is like.  

I would also encourage them to join a professional organization such as AACN and take advantage of all the resources available through that organization.  

For more information, visit the AACN Web site. The AACN offers a certification in progressive care nursing, including telemetry.

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