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How did you become a... Clinical Nurse Specialist in Cardiac Rehabilitation?

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Have you considered specialising in cardiac rehabilitation? Find out how Sophie took to this role

Name - Sophie O’Connell

Current post - Clinical Nurse Specialist Cardiac Rehabilitation


Why did you became a cardiac rehabilitation nurse specialist?

Prior to becoming a cardiac rehabilitation nurse I had worked on a general medical ward and in coronary care for 12 years. I really enjoyed the health promotion aspect of my job but I was limited by time. Feedback from patients suggested that they needed more support when discharged home. This was a new post for our Trust which was exciting and challenging.


What qualifications do you need?

Essential to the role is an indepth knowledge of cardiac anatomy and physiology, investigations, medical and surgical treatments and medications. I had done the ENB 124: Coronary Care Nursing as well as working in coronary care for several years.

I have also done a basic gym instructor qualification and a Masters in Cardiovascular Rehabilitation, as well as attending several study days run by the British Association of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation.


What do you like about your role?

I love meeting people and supporting them. I am in contact with patients for up to 12 months after their event and it is great to see the progress that they make. My job is flexible and I work fairly autonomously.

Although my base is in the hospital, I do community visits and I never know what each day will bring.


What are the challenges to this role?

I work on an island which can be isolating and mean opportunities to network with other cardiac rehab nurses are limited. It can also be difficult to see people make choices that you know will not benefit their health. Trying to be a good role model for patients is a frequent challenge!


What advice would you offer nurses who want to follow in your footsteps?

Cardiac rehabilitation nursing is one of the most rewarding posts I have worked in. If you are interested in this area of nursing I would recommend that you develop experience in acute cardiology and in health promotion. Good communication and listening skills are essential.

It is also useful to be a regular exerciser or have an interest in exercise.



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