CES-A Certification

Adult Certified ECMO Specialist (CES-A) Exam

The American Society of ExtraCorporeal Technology (AmSECT) and the International Board of Blood Management (IBBM) are pleased to announce the first Adult ECMO Specialist Certification Exam. The exam is intended for RNs, RRTs, and other allied health professionals monitoring adult ECMO procedures and circuits.

The Adult Certified ECMO Specialist (CES-A) Exam is offered three times a year (plus at the AmSECT International Conference). Please see below for application and exam dates, prerequisite requirements, application requirements, and additional information.

Application Dates:
March 20 – April 20, 2020
June 19 – July 20, 2020
September 21 – October 21, 2020

Exam Dates:
May 13- May 15. 2020
August 19- August 21, 2020
November 18- November 20, 2020

Adult Certified ECMO Specialist (CES-A) Job Description

The American Society of Extracorporeal Technology and the International Board of Blood Management define the role of Adult Certified ECMO Specialist© (CES-A) for the purpose of offering a certification exam recognizing minimal acceptable mastery of the knowledge, skills, and abilities listed in the CES job description. The ECMO Specialist is an integral member of the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) service team working primarily in intensive care units and participating in the transport of ECMO patients between care areas.

Knowledge Statements – The Adult Certified ECMO Specialist:

  1. understands the principles of a safe and effective ECMO shift hand-off to another specialist
  2. completes all related documentation and ECMO patient record keeping
  3. understands patient and circuit pressure monitoring during ECMO
  4. completes safety checks, identifies erroneous outputs, and recognizes malfunctions
  5. understands ECMO oxygenator function, control of blood gases, and pH
  6. can describe the physiology of veno-arterial and veno-venous ECMO support
  7. can apply the basic principles for troubleshooting the interface between the ECMO circuit and the patient
  8. understands daily issues associated with ECMO patient pump and gas flow
  9. understands and troubleshoots issues associated with daily ECMO patient management
  10. understands ECMO membrane oxygenator gas exchange physics and physiology, oxygen content, O2 delivery, consumption, and shunting

See more knowledge statements

Skill Statements – The Adult Certified ECMO Specialist:

  1. Evaluates the ECMO patient by physical inspection of the circuit and monitoring related parameters
  2. Connects, calibrates, and verifies safety equipment is tested and active
  3. Possesses the interpersonal communication skills necessary to work with peers, physicians, patients, family, and community professionals
  4. Ensures compliance with clinical policies and best practices to assure a safe environment for patients and providers
  5. Works in collaboration with Perfusion to manage ECMO cannulation, decannulation, and stabilization procedures
  6. Assembles extracorporeal circuits using aseptic technique
  7. Transports patients on ECMO support to diagnostic or surgical procedures
  8. Is able to initiate extracorporeal life support safely after cannulation
  9. Complies with medication administration policies and procedures
  10. Identifies damaged tubing, membrane oxygenators, connectors, and other circuit components

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Ability Statements – The Adult Certified ECMO Specialist:

  1. Manages anticoagulation by interpreting monitored parameters and laboratory data
  2. Demonstrates strong critical thinking skills by making appropriate clinical decisions
  3. Monitors circuit integrity throughout the ECMO procedure
  4. Works in conjunction with the bedside nurse to ensure that the ECMO patient has adequate end-organ perfusion, adequate ventilation, and maintains acid-base balance
  5. Monitors and communicates status of ECMO circuit blood flow and venous return
  6. Participates in patient care rounds and provides recommendations
  7. Monitors and communicates clinical lab values to bedside nurses and physicians
  8. Performs appropriate circuit interventions per physician orders and established guidelines
  9. Adheres to aseptic technique and infection control standards for assembled circuits and stored supplies
  10. Complies with blood product verification and administration procedures

See more ability statements

The Adult ECMO Specialist exam plan

What are the requirements / prerequisites to apply for the adult CES Certification Exam?

  1. Anyone with an interest in advancing their career as an adult Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Specialist can take the exam
  2. The candidate should be employed in the job description “ECMO Specialist” as confirmed by their employer, ECMO service Medical Director, or ECMO Coordinator / Manager
  3. The board recommends the candidate has two years experience as a specialist
  4. The candidate must provide the name of a proctor to monitor their on-line exam experience
  5. To take the exam the candidate must fill out the profile application and pay the exam fee during the application period

The exam application period will begin two months prior to the exam date and will be open up to 5 days before the first day of the exam period. The examination period is three days and the exam can be taken during IBBM business hours (9 AM- 5 PM CT).  Candidates will have three (3) hours to complete the exam.

Application Dates:
March 20 – April 20, 2020
June 19 – July 20, 2020
September 21 – October 21, 2020

Exam Dates:
May 13- May 15. 2020
August 19- August 21, 2020
November 18- November 20, 2020

Application Process & Required Elements

Step 1: Submit Application

The CES Certification Application requires applicants to provide the following items:

  • Personal and employer information
  • ECMO Medical Director, Coordinator or Manager information
  • Exam Proctor information

Step 2: Submit Certification Exam Fee

  • Non-refundable $150.00 fee to sit for exam
    • Note: a $50 late fee will be applied to any applications submitted after the application window.
    • Note: Individuals retaking the exam will be assessed a $100 examination retake fee.

Step 3: IBBM Verifies Information
Upon receipt and verification of all application materials, an email will be sent to the proctor with detailed exam instructions approximately five (5) days before the opening of the exam.  This letter will detail the exam protocol, provide the necessary username, password and test verification form to be completed by the proctor at the end of the exam.

An email will be sent to the candidate approximately five (5) days before the opening of the exam.  This letter will serve as notice that you are eligible to sit for the exam and your proctor has been sent the necessary information for the exam.

Step 4: Take Certification Exam
Examinees may select the specific day they would like to take their exam within the testing window and will be given 3 hours to complete 100 question exam.  The exam is scored and the results are mailed via USPS mail approximately 30 days after the close of the exam.

If the applicant passes the exam, they will receive a Adult Certified ECMO Specialist (CES) Certificate at the address provided on the application.

If the applicant does not pass the exam, they will be sent a letter showing the areas of deficiencies.  If the applicant decides to retake the exam a new application must be submitted.  If the applicant retakes the exam within nine (9) months the fee is $100.00 USD.

Additional Information 

Click Here to Apply for the Adult CES Exam  (Available March 20 – April 20)

Click Here to Submit the Adult CES Exam Payment

Adult CES Recertification

All CES-A Certifications will be valid for two years, and to maintain certification, CES-A certificants will need to submit evidence of continued employment as an ECMO Specialist near the end of their two-year certification window and submit the $100 recertification fee. Further details on recertification requirements will be posted closer to the opening of the recertification window (December 1, 2022 through February 15, 2022).

Adult CES Frequently Asked Questions

For whom is the CES-A exam developed?

The exam was developed for the adult ECMO Specialist job description described in detail above and designed for non-perfusionists who are monitoring adult ECMO patients and circuits.

May a perfusionist sit for the exam?

AmSECT and the IBBM recognize the Certified Clinical Perfusionist (CCP) as having validated their ECMO knowledge and skills via the American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion’s certification process.  However, as a valuable member of the ECMO service the application is open to CCPs who may wish to sit for the exam.

Is there a review course for the CES-A exam?

A review course will be offered at the AmSECT International Conference in St. Louis, MO on March 5, 2020. Applicants for the March 5 and March 8 in-person testing dates will be able to register for the review course within the exam application. No additional cost is required to attend the review course. International Conference registration is separate.