EP Education

New Online Professional Certificate in Cardiac Electrophysiology

Letitia P. Esbenshade-Smith, MSEd., RCES, RCIS, CEPS, Coordinator, Cardiac Electrophysiology Program, Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences, Lancaster, Pennsylvania


Letitia P. Esbenshade-Smith, MSEd., RCES, RCIS, CEPS, Coordinator, Cardiac Electrophysiology Program, Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences, Lancaster, Pennsylvania


Beginning in August 2015, Pennsylvania College (PA College) of Health Sciences (formerly the Lancaster General College of Nursing & Health Sciences) will be offering an online Professional Certificate in Cardiac Electrophysiology. This certificate is designed for credentialed staff members who are working in the electrophysiology lab, or in the cardiovascular lab performing electrophysiology procedures, and wish to learn the theory of cardiac electrophysiology and internal cardiac devices. Those holding the following credentials are eligible to apply for the Professional Certificate: RCES, RCIS, RT, RRT or NMT, or an RN license.

The professional certificate is comprised of five three-credit courses, and is designed to be completed in three semesters over one year. Students will take six credits in each of the fall and spring 15-week semesters, and the final three credits in the 12-week summer semester. 

The courses will be offered through the PA College Blackboard course management system, and students will complete all didactic coursework online. The online courses are designed to encourage collaboration, interaction, and discussion with a cohort of no more than 20 classmates. The program is planned as a cohort design with the professional, part-time student in mind. Online assignments correlate to the clinical functions in the lab, and students are encouraged to share their experiences with their peers. 


The Cardiac Electrophysiology Program at PA College of Health Sciences began in 2004 as an in-hospital internship program at Lancaster General Hospital, with 19 graduates over the course of six years. In 2010, the internship was formatted for college credits, and PA College began offering a two-year associate degree and a 14-month certificate in cardiac electrophysiology to students with no experience in clinical electrophysiology. The associate degree and certificate programs include classroom didactic study and a clinical component that allows students to apply classroom theory to clinical practice. 

Twelve students have graduated since PA College began offering this program four years ago. The class size is limited to five students due to the small number of qualified clinical affiliates that can accept students. In 2011, the program’s advisory board identified standards for clinical affiliates that define an approximate volume and mix of electrophysiology cases that the affiliate must perform to provide the student with a good clinical experience. The standards also require that at least one person in the clinical affiliate lab hold either the Registered Cardiac Electrophysiology Specialist (RCES) credential or the International Board of Heart Rhythm Examiners (IBHRE) Certificate. 

Since 2010, all of the PA College program graduates who wish to be employed in electrophysiology are employed in the field of study. The majority of the graduates were employed within 30 days of graduation; some even had secured employment before graduating.

All of the graduates who have challenged the RCES credential examination have been successful. Prior to 2013, students were encouraged to challenge the RCES exam within 30 days of graduation. The 2013 graduating class was the first to challenge the RCES exam prior to graduation, and all were successful. As of 2014, all students in the associate degree or certificate program must challenge the RCES exam prior to graduation. 

The Cardiac Electrophysiology Program at the PA College has been endorsed by the IBHRE. Successful students may be eligible to take the RCES examination offered by Cardiovascular Credentialing International or the certification offered by IBHRE. 

For more information on the new Professional Certificate in Cardiac Electrophysiology, please visit http://www.PAcollege.edu/academics.
For information on tuition and financial aid, visit www.PAcollege.edu/admissions. To contact Lisha Esbenshade, the Program Coordinator, email lpesbens@pacollege.edu or call (717) 544-4767.