For 25 consecutive years, the heart program of the Cleveland Clinic Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute has ranked the best in the nation. With this unprecedented reputation, not only does Cleveland Clinic draw patients from all over the world, it continuously attracts highly skilled cardiovascular professionals.
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“As a new grad, I knew I wanted to be with the best of the best, so I took a position in Cleveland Clinic’s cardiovascular intensive care unit (ICU) where I worked with heart and lung transplant patients, patients with ventricular support devices, and more. I was always learning and always on my toes. I was proud to be taking great care of a patient population that I loved in a program that was unmatched,” says Laura Idzior, MBA, BSN, RN, CCRN, NE-BC, who has now worked in the HVTI for nearly 13 years and currently serves as assistant nursing director for heart, vascular and critical care areas.
Idzior is joined by more than 1,000 cardiovascular caregivers who provide care for patients of the HVTI. With extensive education and experience, these nurses treat and manage conditions that affect a patient’s cardiovascular system. Their knowledge covers a wide range of heart diseases and conditions, such as hypertension, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, coronary heart disease and more.
Cleveland Clinic’s cardiovascular nurses work in a variety of care environments – from outpatient and procedural areas to operating rooms, step-downs and ICUs – supporting the institute’s cardiovascular medicine, thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, and vascular surgery departments.
HVTI is one of Cleveland Clinic’s largest Institutes, and includes 12 step-down units, seven cardiovascular and surgery intensive care units, a heart failure intensive care unit, coronary intensive care unit, cardiac prep/recovery unit, short-stay and post-anesthesia care unit, and electrophysiology and invasive cardiovascular laboratories. It also encompasses 22 pre-operative rooms, 21 operating rooms and two pediatric congenital heart operating rooms, as well as numerous ambulatory and outpatient facilities.
Depending on the setting in which they work, typical responsibilities of cardiovascular nurses can include helping devise patient care plans, preparing patients for surgery, aiding in recovery post-surgery, performing cardiac tests, providing physical exams, managing and administering medication and other therapies, evaluating and monitoring patient vital signs using electrocardiograms or other devices, understanding laboratory results or cardiac tests, and educating patients on health maintenance and disease prevention.
“I think one of the most interesting things about cardiovascular nursing at Cleveland Clinic is that our nurses care for patients in so many different settings,” Idzior adds. “While many work in inpatient cardiology, there are also lots of opportunities in ambulatory and outpatient settings, such as diagnostic, rehabilitative and procedural nursing. There’s just a lot of versatility and variety and it’s really exciting.”
Proud to be No. 1
Another thing that fuels excitement among Idzior and her cardiovascular colleagues is working for an organization that has ranked ‘the best of the best’ by U.S. News and World Report for 25 years in a row.
“Being number one in the nation isn’t something we take lightly – everyone within our institute feels an immense amount of pride,” says Idzior. “There is a lot of work that goes into how we treat our patients and how we work together as one comprehensive multidisciplinary team to maintain high-quality patient care and outcomes. Our physician partners and caregiver teams are phenomenal.”
All in a day’s work
Every day, Cleveland Clinic’s cardiovascular teams hold ‘plan of care’ visits with their patients. Idzior says the visits are designed to bring the physician, nurse, patient and patient’s family together to talk about what is important for the patient that day.
She says the visits are an excellent time for all parties involved to voice concerns, challenges or obstacles, ask and answer questions, and review goals and next steps. Through collaboration and engagement, the visits ensure everyone is in agreement on the intended plan of care.
“Cardiovascular nursing requires nurses who will speak up and communicate. You can’t be afraid to call out concerns to your physician partners or bring your thoughts and ideas to the table,” says Idzior. “When dealing with the heart, even the smallest changes in a patient’s condition or status have huge meaning and can result in very significant outcomes. Cardiovascular nurses need to be looking for these changes.”
To help Cleveland Clinic’s cardiovascular nurses stay current on the latest advances and best practices in cardiovascular care, every unit is supported by clinical nurse specialists (CNSs). There are six master’s-prepared CNSs in the HVTI – each of whom is focused on bringing evidence-based practice to the bedside. They educate nurses on new technologies or products, bring in vendors to conduct device training, and provide ongoing education.
“We have a great team of CNSs who support our nurses, which is extremely important. They do an excellent job of breaking down new information into an easily digestible format to ensure we are prepared and ready,” says Idzior.
Additionally, cardiovascular nursing units also have ‘journal clubs’ where nurses come together to review and discuss recently published professional journal articles on varying topics, like patient satisfaction or how to get quality outcomes.
Idzior says preparedness and a willingness to learn are key in cardiovascular nursing because the specialty is extremely fast-paced and always changing.
“We move at the speed of light,” she adds. “No two days are ever the same and there’s always learning to be done. The things we do at Cleveland Clinic are cutting-edge, and we do these cutting-edge things very well. I truly feel I have the most exciting and rewarding career at the best place I could ever work.”
Cheers to cardiovascular nurses
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States.
Join Cleveland Clinic in honoring, thanking and celebrating cardiovascular nurses everywhere for all they do to treat and prevent one of the nation’s deadliest threats. Cardiovascular Professionals Week is February 9-15. Happy Year of the Nurse and Midwife!