Finally! The New Registered Cardiac Electrophysiology Specialist (RCES) Credential: Interview with Christopher M. Nelson, RN, RC
Why was there a need for this new RCES credential? Tell us about how the exam was created. How will it help benefit those in the EP lab?
Two years ago we were approached by Dr. Seth Worley and Letitia Esbenshade-Smith, RCIS (both of Lancaster, Pennsylvania), who inquired about creating a credential for the EP technologist. They shared with us that Electrophysiology Technology is not a recognized profession and that hospitals are finding it difficult to hire and retain individuals qualified to work in this area. The lack of professional recognition also makes it difficult for hospital administrators to negotiate competitive salaries.
Credentialing brings recognition to a field of practice in our case, cardiovascular technology. So, we felt there was justification to begin the process of surveying the field and preparing to create a new credential. In June of 2005, CCI s Board of Trustees approved the formation of an EP Taskforce with Douglas Passey, RCIS, NREMT-P and myself representing CCI. Dr. Worley and Letitia Esbenshade-Smith, RCIS agreed to join the taskforce. After two years of work, the new RCES exam was created. The RCES credential will be similar to the RCIS, RVS (for vascular) or RCS (for cardiac sonography) in that it will serve as an entry level credential for cardiac electrophysiology.
Should all associated professionals in EP take the RCES exam?
We believe anyone who is currently working in EP should be taking this credentialing exam. We realize, however, that there are probably thousands of clinicians who have been working in EP who come from multiple disciplines and have a lot of experience. Therefore, CCI will continue to support those individuals who have received their education and training on the job, and will encourage them to take the credential. Unfortunately, there are very few electrophysiology schools in the US. To the best of my knowledge, none of these programs are accredited. Until we have sufficient educational programs to support the need, we ll continue the qualifications as we ve done in the past (with our current credentials) to allow those individuals who have been educated and trained by their hospitals to demonstrate their competency and sit for the exam.
How does the RCES exam compare with other AP exams, such as the IBHRE exams?
It s not really for me to say who needs to take the RCES. However, it will be similar to our other credentialing exams, so hospitals will need to determine what their minimum expectations are for credentialing of staff. It is really too soon at this point to make any kind of a declaration, though. In working with IBHRE, what we have proposed and what they have supported is that the RCES will be seen as an entry level credential, so this exam would be taken first, and then later one would take the IBHRE s advanced practice examination once they ve gained experience in the field. For those who have already taken the IBHRE s AP exam, they may choose not to take the registry level credential, so long as that does not impede their ability to work (meaning they meet the current education and/or credentialing expectations of their employer). Again, what the RCES does is establish a minimum standard, one that will be internationally recognized.
When will the RCES exam be available?
It should be available in the Fall of 2007; specifically, we re hoping to release in it in October. We ve completed the pilot exam. However, we do have a few more individuals taking the pilot exam so that we can complete our key validation and cut score analysis. Once that is done, the exam will be open to the public.
How can people sign up for this exam? Do you know how long the exam takes to complete?
To sign up for the exam, participants should contact CCI. People can also visit our website at http://www.cci-online.org/. Information on applying will be available on the website; they can download an application book there or call our national office and have an application book sent to them. The application book will contain all of the details and requisite information they need to apply for the exam.
We have candidates taking the pilot exam now we have allotted three hours to complete the exam and the initial data suggests that most have completed the exam in a little over two hours. The RCES exam was used to pilot combining the cardiovascular science portion with the electrophysiology (registry) exam. Therefore, there are a few more questions that are currently built into the structure of this exam, but no more than if you had taken both exams separately. You ll have to check back, because we are still reviewing the data to see how many questions will ultimately reside on the final exam.
What are some of the topics covered? What area has the most concentrated percentage of questions?
From our examination matrix, the content category is as follows: conducting preprocedural activities = 25%; conducting intraprocedural activities = 30%; conducting post-procedural activities = 8%; performing diagnostic studies = 18%; performing therapeutic procedures = 13%; and collecting data = 6%. Percentages for the â€˜communicating with patients and the health care team portions of the exam have yet to be officially determined. For more information, download an application from our website to see the specific items that are under each of those main content categories.
How long will the RCES credential last before recertification or renewal is needed?
The RCES credential will be on a triennial renewal cycle. An individual s first triennial cycle will begin 9-12 months after earning the RCES credential (unless they currently hold another active CCI credential, then their current triennial cycle will take precedent) depending on the date they pass their test. A Registrant must earn 36 CEUs (from approved providers); 30 of the CEUs must be cardiovascular related. An individual may also elect to re-take the exam during their triennial cycle. By passing the examination, their CEU requirements for recertification are met.
For more information, please visit: www.cci-online.org