The cardiac/vascular nurse exam, offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), is a certification for nurses who are experienced in the field and are looking to show employers and patients, as well as prove to themselves, that they have the skills and knowledge necessary to provide the highest standards of care. Certification is highly regarded by many employers. In fact, some will only hire employees that are certified.
In addition, certification is highly recommended for those looking to advance in their career as it can bring about promotions and salary increases. The test covers two categories, cardiac and vascular, because these two specialties tend to overlap. Plus, they were combined to increase the number of nurses who are eligible to take the exam
Nurses looking to sit for the cardiac/vascular nurse exam must meet the four following eligibility requirements:
- Have practiced as a Registered Nurse (RN) for the equivalent of two years full time
- Have an active RN license
- Have at least 2,000 hours of cardiac/vascular nursing within the past three years, and
- Have, in the last three years, completed a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education in cardiac/vascular nursing.
Proof of these requirements will be required when you submit your application. Failure to provide evidence of all four of these requirements will result in your application being denied and your payment not returned.
The cardiac/vascular nurse exam is offered throughout the year. Because there are no deadlines, applications can be submitted at any time. Fees vary, depending on whether or not you are an American Nurses Association (ANA). The cost is $270 for ANA member and $395 for those who are not. Other fees may apply, depending on if you cancel or change a test date. The test is computer-based and is taken at one of the 300 testing centers located in the United States. There will generally be one available to you in your local area. The exam consists of 175 multiple-choice questions. Twenty-five of these are not scored, meaning they are included for evaluation and do not count against your total score.
The cardiac/vascular nurse exam covers seven main content areas: Pathophysiology and Manifestation of Cardiac and Vascular Disease, Communication, Provision of Care, Patient and Family/Caregiver Education, Psychosocial Aspects of Cardiac-Vascular Disease, Leadership and Legal and Ethical Issues. At the testing site, you will be given 3.5 hours to complete the exam. However, plan to spend up to four hours at the testing site, as you will need to check in, go over testing instructions and take a tutorial on the computer. The computer program is easy to use, even if you have no prior computer experience. The tutorial given before the test will go over how to navigate through the various screens. Once you complete the exam, you will receive your results immediately and be given a score of pass/fail. A registered Nurse – Board Certified (RN-BC) certification is given to those who successfully pass the exam.
The cardiac/vascular nurse certification must be renewed every five years. This helps to ensure that certified cardiac/vascular nurses are attending regular continuing education classes and keeping abreast of current trends in the field. An application and fees are required.
Cardiac/Vascular Nurse Exam Flashcard Study System
Remember using flashcards to study math or other subjects when you were a child? Have you thought about using flashcards to study for your upcoming cardiac/vascular nurse exam? If not, it’s a study method you should consider. Flipping through a stack of flashcards isn’t just fun and games. It’s a proven effective way to learn and retain concepts and terms quickly and easily. Plus, it’s a lot more fun that reading a textbook and trying to memorize every single sentence, not knowing what to expect on the exam.
Flashcards build upon our brain’s ability to learn through repetition, whereas more traditional study methods force you to memorize obscure facts. Memorization is not effective. Your brain can’t possibly remember entire books or even an entire page. Without using any special techniques, the information will be quickly forgotten anyway. However, with flashcards, you combine repetition with thorough preparation, putting you in a position to pass your cardiac/vascular nurse exam with flying colors the first time around.
Flashcard study systems have many advantages. They are small and portable, making them easy to take anywhere. You don’t need long stretches of time to make use of your studying time. Even small amounts of time – 10-15 minutes here and there – can help you learn the terms you need to know. You can study while in line, waiting for an appointment or while on break at work. Flashcards are also strong and durable. They can be used extensively without tearing. In addition, they are thorough but easy to understand; no technical jargon or short answers. You’ll get a detailed answer without having to conduct any additional research. One of the most exciting benefits of all is that flashcards can be fun. They can be used to engage with others. You can have a friend help you study or make it competition where you test your knowledge against friends or study buddies to see who knows the most about cardiac/vascular nursing.
The flashcard study system covers the main content areas of the exam. Test preparation experts create the flashcards by analyzing the test questions and answers. They narrow down the content of the flashcards to include only the most important terms and processes, so you don’t have to learn absolutely everything about cardiac/vascular nursing. However, you can expect to learn numerous diseases, processes and drugs such as aneurysms, unstable plaques, pathophysiology, diabetes, cholesterol levels, infarction, atrial flutters, nitrates, anticoagulants, diuretics, transplantation, coping strategies, team-building models, patient rights, code of ethics and leadership styles. A set of these flashcards cost around $50. You also receive instructions on how to fully use the flashcards, plus games you can play with them to increase your learning and understanding even more. They also include sample test questions so you can quiz yourself and spend more time using the flashcards if you are deficient in any areas.
It is important to know that a significant amount of time and effort is required to pass the cardiac/vascular nurse exam. Simply buying the flashcard study system will not guarantee positive results. However, if you do put in a solid effort and are still not satisfied with your results, you can usually request a full refund.
Cardiac/Vascular Nurse Exam Preparation
Even if you are a seasoned nursing professional, it can still be challenging to pass the cardiac/vascular nurse exam the first time. That’s why there are many test preparation materials available online to assist you. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), which offers the cardiac/vascular nurse exam, is committed to helping nurses achieve certification so they pursue opportunities in their field.
The ANCC offers many resources to help nurses with their study plan. The test content outline for cardiac/vascular nurses covers all seven main content areas in detail. It also shows the percentage of questions the exam includes for each category so you can see which areas are more important.
The ANCC also has sample questions that nurses that review as a guide to see the types of questions they can expect on the exam. However, the questions do not represent all areas of the exam. For the cardiac/vascular nurse exam, there are 25 sample questions available. You answer the questions and submit your responses at the end to see how well you did. The test is scored and your results are displayed. This is a good method to see which areas you are competent in and which areas you need to improve upon.
The ANCC also offers a resource manual for the cardiac/vascular nurse exam. The Cardiac Vascular Nursing Review and Resource Manual, 3rd Edition is available for purchase for $75-85, depending on whether or not you are an American Nurses Association (ANA) member. The manual includes 17 chapters and covers all the main content areas. You can preview the manual before purchase by reviewing the table of contents and a sample chapter so you can see if this is the right study guide for you. Purchasing and studying this manual qualifies you for 30 continuing education hours, which account for the exam’s entire continuing education requirement. However, if you choose to use the manual for continuing education purposes, the 30 hours must be purchased at an additional cost.
There are also comprehensive study guides available to help you review the main areas of the cardiac/vascular nurse exam. The study guides are easy to use and teach you not only the content you need to know, but also how to study smarter. They teach you how to analyze the questions and answers and look for keywords and other concepts that will help you make an educated guess if you are unsure of the answer. Study guides also teach you how to apply the material to the exam. They often include checklists that help you prepare for the exam and help you come with a study plan so you don’t procrastinate and lose out on time needed to efficiently prepare for the cardiac/vascular nurse exam.
If an online course is more your style of learning, then you can find one for the cardiac/vascular nurse exam on the ANCC website. The course is accessible from anywhere you have an Internet connection by simply logging on with a user name and password. It is available 24/7 and offers 10.5 hours of continuing education credit. The course covers topics within the main content areas, including cardiac and vascular risk, hypertension management, pathophysiologic processes, pharmacology and special situations. The course is available for 90 days and costs $225. You can access it as often as you like during the 90-day period. Technical support is available via phone or e-mail should you encounter any problems.
Cardiac/Vascular Nurse Exam Registration
If you decide the cardiac/vascular nurse certification is the right path for you, you will have to register for the exam. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers the exam and has all the information you need on their website. There, you can find out how to register and move forward with the process.
You can register for the cardiac/vascular nurse exam at any time. There are no deadlines, so you can simply submit your application and the required supplemental materials and fees when you are ready. The application is available on the ANCC website. The form is fillable, so you can either fill it out and submit it online or print it out and mail it. It is recommended that you apply online for quicker processing. You will save a month of wait time as opposed to applying via mail. However, the submission method is based on your preferred form of payment. If you apply online, you must pay by credit card. If you apply via mail, you must include a check.
The application requires personal and employment information to ensure you meet the eligibility requirements. You will be asked for your name, address, phone number and social security number. You will also need to fill out your employer name, address, title, phone number and fax number. You will also need to check both boxes stating that you have met the required amounts of case management clinical experience and continuing education hours. If you have a disability that will require special accommodations for the test, you will need to check the box in the third section and call or visit the ANCC website for further instructions. The next section asks for you a record of your personal development. Here, you will list the courses you have taken, the name of the school that offered the courses, the date you took the courses and the number of hours the course counts for. Continuing medical education, academic credits and approved independent study all count toward the 30-hour requirement.
Section 5 asks for your education information. Here, you will check off the boxes that pertain to your level of education. You will also list the schools you attended and the degrees you received. Section 6 asks you to attach a copy of your current Registered Nurse (RN) license, as well as enter your license number, state and expiration date. You will sign the application in the next section. Section 8 will ask you to check a box if you would like to be included on a mailing list that will send you materials related to cardiac/vascular nursing.
The next two sections ask for demographic and employment information. You will be asked questions regarding the facility in which you work, including the size, number of patients, type of area and average patient age. There will also be questions about the number of years of experience you have in cardiac/vascular nursing, the number of hours you typically work, the number of workers you supervise and any organizations of which you are a member. The other information asked of you, such as your age, race and sex, is optional and is used only for statistical purposes.
Once you complete the application, you will need to attach any supporting documents (copy of RN license, copy of membership card if you are claiming a discount, etc.), enclose payment and mail to the ANCC. Fees are $395 for non-American Nurses Association (ANA) members and $270 for those who are members. The ANCC will review your materials and send you an eligibility letter with instructions about how to register for the exam, send a letter requesting additional information or deny the application and send you a refund, minus a $140 processing fee.
Cardiac/Vascular Nurse Test Content Outline
For nurses looking to pass the cardiac/vascular nurse exam, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers a comprehensive test outline that reviews the seven main content areas in extensive detail. The Cardiac Vascular Nurse Board Certification Test Content Outline, available for download from the ANCC website, also lists the number of questions the exam covers from each content area, as well as the percentage. This helps test takers determine which areas they should focus on based on importance.
The first section, Pathophysiology and Manifestation of Cardiac and Vascular Disease, accounts for 26 questions, or more than 17 percent of the exam. This area covers disease process, which includes diagnosis and symptoms. You will need to be familiar with a variety of diseases, such as aneurysms, heart failure, diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, infarction, inflammation, sleep disorder and valvular disease. You will also need to be familiar with these diseases’ symptoms, such as shortness of breath, shock, fatigue, hypertension, ulcers and edema. Within this area is pharmacology, which includes having knowledge of drugs, both prescription and recreational, as well as their indication, interactions and side effects.
The second section of cardiac/vascular nurse exam, Communication, accounts for 10 percent of the exam, or 15 questions. This content area tests your knowledge of interviewing skills, documentation and professional communication. You will also be called upon to see how you would deal with cultural and communication barriers. The next section, Provision of Care, accounts for the largest portion of the exam, with 64 questions or nearly 43 percent of the exam. This section covers four subtopics: physical/psychosocial assessment, disease management, behavioral and lifestyle changes and evaluation and discharge planning. These topics include areas such as equipment use, clinical practice guidelines, interventions, administering medications, handling complications and emergency situations, behavior changes and long-term care needs. You will also be asked about helping patients with lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking or drinking, controlling diabetes, eating healthy, losing weight, exercising and managing stress.
The fourth section of the cardiac/vascular nurse exam, Patient and Family/Caregiver Education, is composed of 16 questions and makes up nearly 11 percent of the exam. This section tests your knowledge of adult learning principles, developing teaching plans and evaluation of outcomes. The next section, Psychosocial Aspects of Cardiac-Vascular Disease, accounts for 11 questions and slightly more than 7 percent of the exam. This section evaluates your knowledge of helping patients cope and adjust to chronic illness and possible death. The sixth section, Leadership, is the smallest section of the exam. It accounts for eight questions and slightly more than 5 percent of the exam. This section deals with quality improvement, supervision and professional development. The final section of the cardiac/vascular nurse exam, Legal and Ethical Issues, accounts for 10 questions, or nearly 7 percent. This section deals with patient rights, risk management and the Nursing Code of Ethics.
This is a comprehensive look at the cardiac/vascular nurse exam. The outline contains many areas to study and review. However, it should hopefully provide you with the information you need to know to obtain a passing score on your exam.