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Cardiology Stepdown, 8 South VUH

Sarah DawsonHello and welcome to our unit!

I’m Sarah Dawson, BSN, RN, manager of the Cardiology Stepdown unit, also known as 8 South.  We are located on the 8th floor at Vanderbilt University Hospital.

The environment on our unit is fast-paced and characterized by phenomenal teamwork.

We care for adult patients aged 18 years and older who are being treated for various vascular disorders such as aneurysms and amputations, as well as patients with congestive heart failure, myocardial infarction, arrhythmias, and pre and post-op cardiothoracic surgeries.  8 South is comprised of 22 patient rooms dedicated to cardiac stepdown patients; however medical stepdown patients are also incorporated into our patient population. Our cardiac patients’ diagnoses range from STEMIs, CHF exacerbations, pacemaker exchanges, and transplant workups. Vascular surgeries include pre- and post-operative care for Coronary Artery Bypass Grafts.  All 22 rooms have bedside monitors.  Staff is alerted to significant changes in patients’ cardiac rhythms by monitor techs.  The unit's nursing station is also equipped with cardiac monitors that allow staff the ability to intervene early to assess and detect abnormal arrhythmias.  

Our patients are unique because they are treated by multidisciplinary teams of specialists who are trained in evaluating and diagnosing problems originating from the valves and coronary vessels all the way to the periphery of the vascular system.

One of the perks of working on my unit is that the nursing leadership team encourages individual growth while fostering a team centered environment. Our goal as leaders is to provide coaching that allows for personal growth and advancement along with safe, quality patient care. Our unit is also supported by a nursing education specialist, who offers ongoing learning opportunities and ensures we are up to date on evidence-based practice.

Our nurses are successful because they are dedicated to fostering and coaching new nurses to succeed in their unit orientation sessions to become fully functioning Vanderbilt nurses.  New nurses are given 7-9 weeks of unit-based orientation with weekly check-ins with their corresponding Clinical Staff Leaders to ensure their success during their formative weeks. We provide them with the resources that they need to be successful such as classes, clinical training, shadowing, and simulations. 

Our unit is in the Adult Cardiac Stepdown track of the Nurse Residency Program.

We encourage professional growth.
If your career goal is to experience and be successful in the vascular nursing field, then the 8 South Cardiology Stepdown unit can help with this by providing you with the opportunity and resources to take care of this specific patient population.

If you have any questions about my unit, please email me at or visit Nursing Careers at Vanderbilt to explore open nursing positions.

beds = 22
ratio = 1:3 or 1:4
certifications - ALS
- Basic Arrhythmia
perks Vanderbilt
join us Nursing Careers at Vanderbilt

“After almost three years on 8 South, I have watched our unit change in several ways. It has been an honor to be a part of a staff that strives to continually improve for the sake of our patients. The diversity in our patient population enriches our knowledge and pushes us to keep asking questions. Through staff driven initiatives such as Falls Committee and Unit Board, we are able to make meaningful impacts on our unit processes and patient outcomes. I could not be more proud to work on a unit that is so devoted to advancement and adaptability.”
Kate T., BSN, RN II
Relief Staff Leader
Unit Board Co-Chair