EKG interpretation is an excellent skill for any registered nurse to have. Electrocardiograms, or EKGs, show you various measurements of a patient’s heart, which can alert healthcare professionals to life-threatening events like heart attacks or strokes so that they can take quick action when necessary.
Nurses with varying specialties rely on EKGs and rhythm strips as diagnostic tools, especially when monitoring patients that have suffered from a cardiac event. There is a difference between simply “performing” an EKG and “interpreting” an EKG from a medical standpoint. When nurses can interpret what they see on an EKG, they can respond more quickly to the specific threat and get the correct assistance.
How Do Nurses Use EKGs?
An EKG works by placing ten electrodes on the patient’s body. Two electrodes go on the arms, and two go on the legs. The other six electrodes are placed in assigned positions on the chest. Electrodes these days consist of sticky patches that allow the ECG machine wires to be attached. The electrocardiogram machine then displays the heart’s electrical readings on a graph for the nurse or medical professional to interpret.
While interpreting EKGs is not a nurse’s primary job, and many EKG machines offer artificial intelligence interpretations, having this skill can help a nurse provide better patient care by responding to threats more quickly and accurately.
Why Should Nurses Take an EKG or Arrhythmia Interpretation Course?
If you’re a nurse, there’s really no reason you shouldn’t learn to interpret an EKG. Our EKG and arrhythmia interpretation courses for nurses are designed to make electrocardiogram interpretation simple and understandable, no matter your level of medical training.
If quickly and correctly interpreting an EKG could mean the difference between a patient living and dying, then our arrhythmia interpretation course is one you don’t want to miss out on. Here are some of the other benefits that nurses can expect to receive from our course.
Provide Better Care
Even though we mention it above, it’s worth stating again – a nurse’s first priority is to provide patients with the best care possible. While performing an EKG is one thing, interpreting an EKG allows nurses to diagnose patients and take action when necessary more quickly. If taking an 8-hour video course could help you provide better patient care, why wouldn’t you do it?
Accelerate Career Advancement
Although nurses are currently in high demand, there’s nothing wrong with improving your skillset and making your resume more attractive.
While not all nursing positions will require you to understand how to interpret an EKG, many specialty positions and private practices may require a background in EKG interpretation. In addition, the ability to interpret ECGs will set you apart from other candidates when applying for competitive positions.
What Does Our EKG Interpretation Course Cover?
Our arrhythmia interpretation course for nurses is designed to feel like a one-on-one instruction session with Dr. Siegal. The self-paced course is about 8 hours long and features interactive videos, easy-to-follow illustrations, EKG practice tests, and much more. There is also a 2.25-hour course on rhythm interpretation alone. Of course, rhythm interpretation is included in the full 8-hour course, and you would not need to get both courses.
Executive Electrocardiogram Education covers everything healthcare professionals need to know when interpreting patients’ ECGs and cardiac rhythms. The courses are geared for all levels of readers, from novice to expert. Topics include:
The heart is a complex organ with various electrical components, pumping four to six liters of blood every minute. An ECG interpretation course helps nurses determine different cardiac conditions, such as a heart attack and abnormal rhythms like ventricular tachycardia.
The course covers the fundamentals that every nurse needs to know about an electrocardiogram and how to use it to provide better patient care.
Ventricular hypertrophy refers to a thickening of the heart muscle, which often produces ventricular stiffness. Since patients with ventricular hypertrophy may develop heart failure, being able to identify this abnormality on the EKG may give the nurse an advantage when evaluating the patient.
Atrioventricular Blocks and Dissociation
Atrioventricular or AV blocks are conduction delays or barriers to the electrical conduction from the heart’s atria to its ventricles. AV blocks are often related to ischemic heart disease, fibrosis, or sclerosis.
Atrioventricular blocks come in three degrees:
- First degree: Consist of a prolonged PR interval of more than 200 milliseconds with no conduction interruption. This condition is benign.
- Second degree: Mobitz type I second degree is also known as Wenckebach and is the lengthening of the PR interval until the QRS complex drops. Mobitz type 1 is usually benign. Second-degree AV block, Mobitz type II, on the other hand, is recognized by no changes in the PR interval and then sudden drops of the QRS complexes. This condition is serious and requires urgent evaluation.
- Third degree: A third-degree AV block (aka complete heart block) is a total disruption in the conduction of electricity from the atria to the ventricles. This condition is very serious and requires immediate attention and treatment.
Bundle Branch Blocks and Fascicular Blocks
The bundle branches and the fascicles are like superhighways that conduct electricity from the AV node into the ventricles. Bundle branch blocks and fascicular blocks are like road construction on these highways, disrupting traffic flow. Just like the traffic will have to get off the highway and take side streets to get to their destination, the electricity in the heart must take a different path, too.
This may cause the right and left ventricles to beat out of sync. Complete disruption of this system may also cause problems, and the patient may require a pacemaker. During this course, nurses learn how to identify these conduction blocks and understand how they occur.
The QT Interval, Systemic Abnormalities, Electrolyte, and Drug
Generally, a normal QT interval has a duration between 390 and 450 milliseconds for males and can be slightly higher for females. A longer-than-normal QT interval may make a patient prone to Torsades de Pointes, a type of ventricular tachycardia.
A prolonged QT interval puts the patient at risk of dangerous arrhythmias leading to serious complications or even death. Many common medications or electrolyte abnormalities can cause a prolonged QT interval. Throughout the course, nurses will learn how to read and interpret QT intervals and why this is important.
Ischemia, Injury, Infarction, and St & T Wave Changes
Blockages in coronary arteries can reduce blood flow, causing ischemia, injury, or infarction to the heart muscle. Ischemia is a reversible problem, whereas infarct may be permanent. The changes from these conditions look different on an ECG, and being able to identify these changes on an ECG is a valuable tool for any nurse.
Normal and Abnormal Rhythms
The heart is a complex yet sensitive organ that maintains a steady rhythm. An abnormal rhythm can indicate a cardiac issue that often requires immediate treatment. The course will teach nurses to read the EKG and identify normal and abnormal heart rhythms to be ready to act when necessary.
Nurses will also learn to name the rhythm based on its origin of impulse and cardiac activity.
Wolff Parkinson White (WPW)
WPW is a congenital condition due to a bypass tract between the atria and ventricles. Clues of this bypass tract are often seen on an ECG in the form of delta waves. WPW may make a patient prone to fast, abnormal heart rhythms. This course covers how to identify WPW.
Lead Reversal and Pacemakers
The most common error on an EKG is “lead reversal, ” which leads to misdiagnoses. These days, many patients have pacemakers or defibrillators with pacemaker capabilities. This course covers how to recognize lead reversal and common properties of pacemaker rhythms.
Practice ECG Interpretation
The best way to become an expert in ECG is with practice. Our EKG interpretation course for nurses allows medical professionals to test their knowledge and skills through images and hands-on activities. Nurses will walk away from the course confident in their interpretation
knowledge and with new skills to improve patient care.
Who Will be Teaching the ECG Course?
Executive Electrocardiogram Education is created and instructed by Dr. Scott Siegal, a board-certified cardiologist with over 20 years of experience in cardiology and medical education. Dr. Siegal created this program out of his interest in electrocardiography and his passion for helping others navigate the complexities of professional health care.
Dr. Siegal started his academic medical career in Boston, MA, earning his undergraduate degree at Boston University. He then went to medical school at the University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, Missouri. Dr. Siegal continued his education with his internship and residency with the Consortium of Graduate Medical Education and Training in Detroit, Michigan.
With board certifications in Nuclear Cardiology, Echocardiography, and Cardiology, Dr. Siegal has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field. He has work experience in states across the country, including Texas, New Jersey, Colorado, and Missouri.
Dr. Siegal’s passion for heart health leads him to a career in ECG interpretation education for various cardiology fellowships and residency programs. Today, he continues to share his passion for practicing informed medicine and critical thinking with other healthcare professionals by helping them learn how to interpret ECG readings and provide better care for their patients.
Sign Up for Our EKG Interpretation Course for Nurses Today
If you’re a registered nurse that wants to provide the best possible patient care, there’s no reason you shouldn’t take our online arrhythmia interpretation course for nurses. In just about 2 hours, you will learn the essentials of interpreting normal and abnormal rhythms without getting into the detailed ECG interpretation.
If you’re looking to take it a step further, you can also sign up for our ECG Gold Course. In this course, you will learn everything about arrhythmia interpretation as well as a more detailed approach to ECG interpretation. At Executive Electrocardiogram Education, we help nurses better serve their patients, grow their skills, and achieve career advancement goals by becoming experts at EKG interpretation. Click here to sign up for our ECG interpretation course for nurses today. Or, you can click here if you’d rather try our free ACLS rhythms course to get a feel for our courses.