The CMC Exam

The Cardiac Medicine Certification (CMC) examination is offered by the American Academy of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) as a subspecialty for registered nurses that participate in the direct care of acutely and critically ill cardiac patients. The CMC exam may be taken by nurses that have already obtained a specialty certification in a more general field of nursing, usually in critical care. The examination is a multiple choice test that is usually given by computer at a testing center. The exam requires a fee and a great deal of study time. The examination covers the care of the cardiac patient, the cardiovascular system and how other body systems affect the cardiac patient.

Before being eligible to take the CMC test, nurses must first ensure they are certified in a specialty of nursing. While most nurses taking the CMC exam have certification in critical care, the AACN will accept any nationally accredited specialty certification for the requirement. Nurses must also be sure they have fulfilled the employment requirements as set forth by the AACN and have licensure as a registered nurse in the United States.

The examination is given after all eligibility requirements have been met. Nurses are sent an authorization to test after applying to take the exam, and may then schedule their examination at the testing center. The test is given in a timed, multiple choice format. The examination usually takes place on a computer unless the nurse has requested otherwise.

The examination covers many of the areas the nurse working with critically ill cardiac patients should know as a part of their employment. The examination covers mostly facts about the cardiovascular system, the cardiac patient and other body systems and how they relate to the cardiac patient. Nurses may also be asked to apply their knowledge to problems in some questions.

Forty-three per cent of the exam broadly covers cardiac patient problems. These questions may include material covering acute coronary syndrome, dysrhythmias and other cardiology issues such as trauma, tamponade and cardiogenic shock. Twenty-one per cent of the test covers nursing interventions and how they relate to the cardiac patient. Questions may cover cardiac surgery, pharmacology, assist devices and dysrhythmias interventions. Twenty percent of the exam is devoted to cardiac monitoring and may ask questions concerning invasive monitoring, blood studies, ECG monitoring and interpretation and pulmonary monitoring, such as arterial blood gas studies. The remaining questions may cover other body systems and how they may affect the cardiac patient, including the endocrine system, pulmonary problems, neurological problems and renal function. The nurse must have a well rounded knowledge of many aspects of not only cardiac medicine, but general body systems to ensure a positive outcome on the CMC examination.

The Cardiac Medicine Certification is a subspecialty of nursing and can be earned by nurses that have already obtained certification in a general field of nursing. Registered nurses that are licensed in the United States and have extensive experience caring for critically or acutely ill cardiac patients can qualify to take this examination. Nurses must have an excellent and well rounded knowledge of many body systems, including the cardiovascular system in order to pass this difficult examination.

The Cardiac Medicine Certified Nurse

Cardiac Medicine Certified (CMC) registered nurses work with acutely and critically ill adult cardiac patients, usually in an inpatient setting. As a subspecialty of nursing, these nurses first hold certification in another specialty of nursing, usually in critical care. Nurses holding the CMC subspecialty certification may enjoy increased personal and professional benefits as a part of their certification. Obtaining this certification requires both experience and knowledge, which is demonstrated through testing. The Cardiac Medicine Certified RN is knowledgeable about many aspects of the critically ill cardiac patient.

Before being eligible for certification, the cardiac nurse must first obtain a certification in a more general area of nursing. As the Cardiac Medicine certification is a subspecialty, the CMC credential is awarded as an adjunct to an existing specialty. Most CMC nurses choose to obtain certification first in critical care. As most nurses that work in the area of acute and critical care of cardiac patients while employed in an intensive care or critical care unit, the critical care specialty is the most common among nurses choosing the subspecialty of cardiac medicine. While most nurses do have the critical care credential, the organization that awards the CMC credential, the American Academy of Critical Care Nurses (AACN), will accept any accredited certification as well. After obtaining the subspecialty certification of CMC, the credential is tied to the original specialty credential. For example, a Certified Critical Care registered nurse would have the credential of CCRN-CMC after obtaining the Cardiac Medicine certification.

Cardiac Medicine certified nurses work in areas where patients are the most critically ill with heart ailments. These areas may include the intensive care unit, critical care unit, cardiac catheterization lab and post operative units. The AACN requires at least 1,750 hours of critical or acute care experience in the past two years with at least half of that experience being obtained in the past year. In addition, half of the 1,750 hours must be in direct patient care of the acutely or critically ill cardiac patient. Nurses that work in areas that deal with many types of acute care, such as on medical or surgical units and those in emergency care, probably will not qualify for certification unless the bulk of the care they provide is to those patients with heart and cardiovascular conditions.

The CMC examination is difficult and requires considerable preparation. Nurses must have a vast amount of general knowledge of caring for the cardiac patient as well as specific knowledge of the cardiovascular system. The nurse also needs to understand how other body systems may affect the heart. The CMC examination is mostly knowledge based, however, there may be some application of knowledge required on the examination as well.

The Cardiac Medicine Certified registered nurse works with critically or acutely ill patients that are having heart difficulties. She may work in a critical care unit, intensive care, post cardiac surgery or cardiac catheterization unit. Other specialties may also qualify for obtaining the subspecialty of Cardiac Medicine certification as well, but the nurse is required to have a minimum number of hours in direct care of the cardiac patient. As the CMC is a subspecialty of nursing, the nurse must also first acquire a certification in a main specialty such as critical care before being eligible for CMC certification.

Benefits of Earning the CMC Credential

The Cardiac Medicine Certification (CMC) is a certification that is considered a subspecialty of nursing and is awarded by the American Academy of Critical Care Nurses (AACN). Nurses that have demonstrated their knowledge by passing the CMC examination after having qualified for certification are eligible to use the designation of CMC after their specialty title. Benefits to the certified nurse may include higher pay and greater recognition in their chosen field of nursing, leadership opportunities and a great deal of personal satisfaction. Additional certification can also help to ensure greater patient satisfaction.

Nurses that have earned the credential of CMC have demonstrated that they have a great deal of knowledge of cardiac medicine and understand the proper care of the cardiac patient. They have a vast amount of experience in caring for very ill cardiac patients and have worked in nursing for a minimum of two years. These nurses have also earned a specialty in a general field of nursing before earning the subspecialty credential of CMC. Nurses with this designation have also taken and passed the difficult CMC examination, which tests many aspects of cardiac nursing.

There can be a number of benefits to the nurse to earn the CMC credential. Entering into a subspecialty often means a higher rate of pay for the nurse. Many employers view the initiative of the nurse to achieve a subspecialty certification as a commitment to their chosen field and will reward their employee for this commitment. Nurses who work as members of a union may also find that they have contracted increases for earning a subspecialty certification. Choosing to pursue the CMC as a subspecialty can pay for itself over time with the increased pay that the nurse may receive.

Nurses that have earned subspecialty certification such as they do after passing the CMC examination often also find they have increasing leadership opportunities. Nurses that have obtained certification and subspecialty certification are often chosen for leadership positions in their field of nursing. Potential to work in management is high for nurses that have taken the time and initiative to go through the certification process.

Nurses that are certified in a specialty or subspecialty of nursing have demonstrated their knowledge of their field of nursing and can use the credential awarded after their name and on their name badge. Using the certification designation, such as the CMC, demonstrates to patients and peers that the nurse has a great deal of knowledge during the course of their work. Patients find comfort in knowing that their nurse is well educated and experienced and have greater satisfaction with nurses that have achieved a subspecialty.

There are many benefits to earning the CMC credential for nurses that have taken and passed the Cardiac Medicine Certification exam. These nurses often find that they can earn a higher wage and that their potential for leadership and management is increased. Nurses also can find greater personal satisfaction and find that the patients they serve have greater satisfaction with them. The benefits to earning the CMC designation for cardiac nurses can be great.

The CMC Credential

The title of CMC is granted to nurses that have passed the Cardiac Medicine Certification (CMC) examination. This certification is a subspecialty of nursing and is granted by the American Academy of Critical Care Nurses (AACN). As this field of nursing is considered a subspecialty by the AACN, nurses must first have certification in another field of nursing, usually critical care. Critical Care nursing certification is not a requirement for obtaining the designation of CMC, though the AACN does require that the nurse has obtained an accredited certification in some field of nursing. The CMC credential is then attached to that certification. For example, the nurse that has obtained critical care certification would have earned the right to use the title CCRN. The CMC would then be attached to that title as CCRN-CMC. Obtaining this credential takes experience and a great deal of work on the part of the nurse and shows her employer and patients that she has achieved a great deal of knowledge in her specialty.

The CMC is awarded to nurses that have taken and passed the Cardiac Medicine Certification test. This test covers a wide range of topics that are directly related to cardiac medicine and to the care of the acutely or critically ill cardiac patient. Nurses that wish to pursue this subspecialty should have extensive knowledge of the cardiovascular system, interventions used to help cardiac patients, pharmacology and nursing interventions used to help cardiac patients.

The CMC is considered a subspecialty of nursing. Most nurses that choose to pursue the CMC designation have achieved certification in critical care. Some nurses choose different specialties, but extensive experience with critically ill cardiac patients is required for this sub specialization. Nurses that work in areas of nursing outside critical care where they care for critically ill cardiac patients, such as chest pain centers or cardiac catheterization labs are also eligible to take the certification exam as long as they have met the eligibility requirements. These nurses may seek initial certification in other areas such as emergency nursing or operative nursing. Any certification that is nationally accredited is recognized as eligible by the AACN.

After earning the CMC credential, the nurse is then able to use it as a part of her title. As a subspecialty, the CMC is always attached to the original credential. If a nurse has obtained certification in critical care or another field of nursing, the CMC designation is attached as a hyphenated title to that first certification.

Earning the CMC credential can be difficulty and the nurse must have an extensive amount of knowledge and experience to be eligible to take the CMC examination. Nurses must have a minimum number of hours employed in the direct care of the critically ill cardiac patient and must have learned a great deal about the function of the cardiovascular system and appropriate nursing care of the cardiac patient. These nurses have demonstrated, both through their initial certification and their certification in Cardiac Medicine, that they have a commitment to quality care of the cardiac patient.