Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist - How to Become a Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist

Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist

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Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist Job Description


Cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialists work with patients who have been diagnosed with heart or lung disease. They help these patients to understand and manage their health problems, including educating them on certain lifestyle changes that can help reduce health risks and improve the patient’s quality of life. This allows the patients to live longer and participate in more activities.

Some of the major disease processes that cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialists may be expected to help their patients manage include:

  • Emphysema
  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Angina
  • Heart attack

The cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialist generally meets his or her patient for the first time shortly after a health crisis has occurred or an initial diagnosis has been determined, such as a heart attack. The cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialist is generally called in once the patient has been stabilized.




A cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialist may be expected to perform any or all of the following duties:

  • Help the patient to understand his condition and the medical regimen required

  • Explain the course of treatment and when the patient may be able to resume normal activities.

  • Identify risk factors that may be contributing to the patient’s disease process, such as smoking, hypertension, poor diet or obesity.

  • Identify potential interventions that may reduce health risks, such as medical treatments or lifestyle changes

  • Educate the patient about making key lifestyle changes, and provide support during the changes. Lifestyle changes may include eating healthier foods, increasing physical activity or cessation of smoking.

  • Design and help the patient implement an appropriate, individualized exercise program.

Many patients find uncharacteristic motivation to make healthy changes following an initial diagnosis of heart disease or lung disease. Unfortunately, many revert to old behaviors within a short time even when they understand that improving their diet, losing weight and taking certain medications may help patients reduce their health risks and improve their quality of life.

Cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialists are tasked with keeping the patient motivated to make healthy choices by providing ongoing information and positive support.





Must effectively communicate with your co-workers to ensure the best care and the proper procedures. Must be able to communicate in high-stress environments.

Active Listening

Offering your full attention to an individual person or group in order to fully understand problems and their nature.

Critical Thinking

Must use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Judgment and Decision Making

Needs to be able to act autonomously and make difficult decisions that would benefit the patient or make corrections. Must consider all benefits and repercussions of potential actions and choose the appropriate one. 

Complex Problem Solving

Must be able to identify complex problems and develop and evaluate corrective options and implement solutions. 

Stress Management

Must be able to endure intense situations and handle pressure that comes with extreme situations you may encounter.


Must be trustworthy because you have people's lives in your hands and what you do could help or hurt them. They are entrusted with a great responsibility and must live up to it. 


Gauging how people react and read their body language to decipher their feelings and predict their actions. They must be able to determine if people could be a risk to themselves or others and to distinguish truths from lies.


Working Conditions


Hospitals, outpatient clinics and rehabilitation centers are potential work places for cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialists. Patients may meet with them in an office, in a supervised exercise facility or an exam room in the hospital.

Most cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialists work standard business hours. This may vary from time to time should they need to meet with patients after hours or supervise a group exercise program during the evening or on a weekend.

Cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialists are frequently trained in other fields as well as their own, such as exercise physiology, physical therapy or nursing.



How to Become an Allergist / Immunologist:


1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)


Becoming a cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialist requires that you first complete training as an exercise physiologist, a registered nurse, a respiratory therapist or a physical therapist.

There is currently no specific certification for cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialists. Facilities that provide cardiopulmonary rehabilitation services can be certified by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR). Those desiring to gain experience in this field should seek employment in an AACVPR certified program. Scholarships and internships are available through AACVPR for students interested in a career in cardiopulmonary rehabilitation.



Salary Outlook