Professional Certification FAQs

Q: Will program certification require having professionally certified individuals on staff? How will the two certifications affect one another?
A: Professional certification will eventually be a required component for program certification. The integration process will be gradual, allowing time for staff to acquire the professional certification. At this time, the Certified Cardiac Rehabilitation Professional designation is available (Pulmonary Professional Certification is still in development). Individuals who provide Cardiac Rehabilitation services should possess a common core of professional and clinical competencies, regardless of their academic discipline. CCRP EXEMPTION: CCRP Certification is recognized as evidence of professional competency in the Cardiac Program Certification application, and all CCRP certified staff are exempt from the staff competency requirements stated on the Program Certification application for the duration of their three-year certification (and ongoing as long as they maintain their certification by obtaining the required CEUs). However, all other staff who are not CCRP certified, must be able to provide the competency assessments listed on the Program Certification application.

Q: Will there be an opportunity for physicians or RTs or others to appeal to sit for the exam?
A: Per the posted eligibility criteria, physicians have obtained a higher degree in a health care field and therefore are eligible. An established set of criteria will be developed for interested staff personnel who  do not meet the current eligibility criteria.

Q: Will the exam be offered at other locations or regional meetings around the country?
A: For information about the exam locations, please visit our Professional Certification Homepage for a complete list of locations.

Q: Will an exam in pulmonary rehabilitation be developed and if so, can those in cardiac rehab sit for the pulmonary exam and vice versa?
A: Yes, a pulmonary exam will be developed. However, the timeline for development has not yet been established. As long as an individual meets the eligibility requirements, he/she can sit for either or both examinations. The core competencies for each examination will be specific to that service. Therefore, the two examinations will test a different set of knowledge and skills.

Q: I have several years of experience in the field. Why shouldn’t I be grandfathered without taking the exam?
A: There will be practitioners who are ready and able to sit for this new examination without any preparation. There will be others who are new to the field and will need to review some content areas in the test blueprint. All certificants are required to receive a passing score on the examination in order to be designated as a CCRP certificant. The passing score is defined by the predetermined passing score that is derived from the standard setting process. No exceptions are, or have been, made to this policy. This will assure that those who are certified have demonstrated enough knowledge of the minimal qualifications for cardiac rehabilitation to hold the CCRP credential.

Q: Can individuals who hold the RN-C certification as a Cardiac Rehabilitation Nurse (previously offered by ANCC) be grandfathered into the CCRP program?
A: The ANCC examination developed specifically for RNs practicing in cardiac rehabilitation was retired a number of years ago. While the current ANCC examination for cardiovascular nurses includes some questions regarding cardiac rehabilitation, the focus for this exam is for RNs practicing in a cardiovascular setting such as hospital unit or physician practice. It is not based on the published core competencies for cardiac rehabilitation and, therefore, does not adequately reflect the comprehensiveness of knowledge and skills required of a practitioner in a cardiac rehabilitation outpatient setting.

Q: Why is nursing licensure designated as a separate designation from a Bachelor’s degree in a health related field in the eligibility criteria?
A: Nursing licensure is designated as a separate stipulation because it is possible to earn a nursing license without having a Bachelor’s degree.

Q: What is the rationale behind requiring all of the different disciplines in cardiac rehab center being incorporated into one exam?
A: Core competencies define a set of measureable indicators that health care professionals are required to meet within a specific health discipline. Since cardiac rehabilitation is delivered by a multidisciplinary team, the core competencies define a minimally competent health care professional in the field of cardiac rehabilitation and are not specific to a particular discipline. Rather, any person taking the certification examination, whether the person is a nurse, clinical exercise physiologist, physical therapist, or another type of health care professional, would be expected to demonstrate competence in these minimal staff qualifications after obtaining some experience in the profession of cardiac rehabilitation/secondary prevention.

Q: Will the new professional certification put nurses at an advantage and exercise professionals at a disadvantage?
A: In general, this should not be the case. The new professional certification will not make nurses’ knowledge and skills in exercise training and physical activity equivalent to people with an undergraduate or graduate degree in exercise science nor will it turn exercise professionals into nurses.  Cardiac rehabilitation services will continue to be best delivered by a multidisciplinary team of dedicated health care professionals. It is important to realize the exam is based on minimum qualifications as listed in the test blueprint (developed from the published cardiac rehabilitation core competencies).

Q: If I pass the CCRP exam, can I claim CCRP in my credentials?
A: Yes, if you pass the exam you may add CCRP to your credentials.

Q: How/why did AACVPR professional certification come to be?
A: AACVPR conducted a needs assessment among AACVPR members. Based on strong responses of support and need for a profession-specific certification, the organization moved forward with the development of the CCRP.  It was agreed that this will strengthen future assurance of the quality of practitioners providing cardiac rehabilitation. AACVPR is the most appropriate organization to provide certification for the profession of cardiac rehabilitation/secondary prevention.

Q: I have (CES) or (RCEP) certification through ACSM. Does this replace the need for me to seek CCRP certification?
A: The ACSM clinical exercise certifications are an indication of one’s knowledge in the field of clinical exercise physiology. In fact, per the AACVPR Guidelines for Cardiac Rehabilitation/Secondary Prevention (5th edition-2013), these certifications are preferred qualifications for hiring an exercise specialist or physiologist in an outpatient cardiac rehabilitation setting.  However, with the establishment of this certification specific to core competencies of cardiac rehabilitation, the CCRP will further signal to those in a hiring position, the knowledge and skills of a practitioner in this field. Learning is part of one’s professional journey and obligation. Self-improvement is not a finite exercise in cardiac rehabilitation.

Q: I am a nurse. Will my CCRP certification meet the requirements of a Magnet facility?
A: AACVPR is pleased to announce that the CCRP credential has recently been reviewed by American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and has met the criteria for inclusion on their list of certifications included in the Magnet Recognition Program® Demographic Data Collection Tool™ (DDCT).  Hospitals applying for Magnet strongly urge all nurses to be certified within their specialty.  Nurses working in cardiac rehabilitation can now take the CCRP as that specialty certification.