How to Become a Telemetry Nurse

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Telemetry nurses are registered nurses (RNs) who specialize in treating patients connected to monitoring equipment (for blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygen level, breathing rate, etc.) and those connected to equipment that administers medication. These patients frequently have just undergone major surgery, but no longer need to be in an intensive care unit (ICU). Many hospitals are now creating units for intermediate care needs (between those of ICU and a regular bed), which are called telemetry, step down or progressive care units to fit these needs.

Choose your registered nurse (RN) educational program. There are three educational paths that lead to becoming an RN: a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN), and associate's degree (ADN) or a licentiate. The BSN takes about four years to complete, and is offered through colleges and universities. The ADN will take between two and three years to complete, and is offered at community colleges. The license program (originally developed for those already in another medical field) is offered at many hospitals and takes about three years to complete. Although the BSN is preferred by most employers, all three paths will qualify you for entry-level positions.

Learn all you can about the telemetry field during your educational program by studying books and journals on the subject. Inform your instructors of your interest in the telemetry nurse field, as they can assign you to a progressive care or telemetry environment where you can shadow a telemetry nurse, learn more about the field and gain some firsthand experience.

Take and pass your licensure examination. All states require RNs to pass the national licensing examination, also known as the NCLEX-RN, to become a licensed RN. You can obtain more information about the examination at the National Nurses Association website (see Resources).

Gain professional experience in a progressive care environment to fulfill experience requirement for the PCCN (Progressive Care Certified Nurse) certification. To qualify for the PCCN examination, you must practice as an RN for 1,750 hours (875 hours must be within a year of taking the exam) in a qualifying progressive care unit (telemetry unit, direct observation unit, intermediate care unit, step-down unit, emergency unit or transitional care unit).

Take and pass your PCCN certification examination. The examination consists of 125 questions (100 of which are scored), and you will be given two and a half hours to complete it. You can find detailed information on the certification by downloading the Certification Exam Handbook from the AACN website (see Resources).

About the Author

Marie W received her Bachelor of Science in management and a Master of Business Administration from The University of Maryland, and a master's certificate in project management from Stevens Institute of Technology. The majority of her career has been spent as an IT project manager. She has enjoyed sharing her experiences helping others through freelance writing and her websites for the past 10 years.

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