Exercise Specialist


To plan, design, implement and evaluate the exercise prescription for each adult-sized adolescent, adult and older adult participating in Phase I, Phase II and Community Phase of the Cardiovascular Wellness program. To plan, implement and evaluate the educational sessions relative to exercise and risk factor management. To assist with the referral process and to complete the interview/intake sessions. To collaborate with the Cardiovascular Wellness staff in monitoring the patient's progress toward desired patient outcomes.


Under the general direction of the Senior Vice President of the New England Heart Institute and Physician Practice Network and the direct supervision of the Department Director of Cardiovascular Wellness, within established Catholic Medical Center and departmental policies and procedures, the exercise specialist performs the following essential functions:

Patient Assessment:

  • Assesses each Phase II, Heart Failure, Vascular and Community participant for their level of physical activity tolerance, including the ability to perform a strength-conditioning program.
  • Demonstrates an understanding of cardiovascular, pulmonary, and musculoskeletal anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology, and identifies common conditions limiting or otherwise influencing the prescription of physical activity.
  • Reviews patient/client records regarding medical/health history and cardiac risk factors, including diagnoses and therapeutic course.
  • Obtains information from the interview/intake records regarding the patient/client's activities of daily living, sexual activity, exercise/recreational/activity patterns, and their employment history. Refers to cardiologist and/or the primary care physician for guidance if necessary.

Planning Patient Care:

  • Develops a Plan of Care relative to increasing exercise endurance based on a thorough assessment of physical activity tolerance.
  • Determines physical activity tolerance based upon the documentation on the interview/intake personal data form(s).
  • Writes individual exercise prescriptions for all participants based on a recent ETT, age predicted target heart rate scale or by using a resting heart rate +30 and/or RPE until patients can safely advance to higher level of physical activity. Refers to the Policy and Procedure Manual for Exercise Prescription guidelines when necessary.
  • Designs a home exercise program for every participant based upon their activity level and interests.
  • Designs a strength-conditioning program for appropriate participants as per Policy and Procedure guidelines for Strength Conditioning.

Implementing the Plan of Care:

  • Implements the Plan of Care for improving the physical activity level for each participant.
  • Conducts an exercise program which is appropriate for a cardiac population which will include, but not be limited to: warm-up, stretching, range of motion, cardiovascular conditioning, strength training (if applicable) and cool down activities.
  • Develops modified exercise programs to accommodate individual patient needs and limitations.
  • Demonstrates the ability to work in collaboration with the patient, physician, staff nurse, dietitian and/or other health professionals toward implementation of the plan of care.
  • Demonstrates competence in communicating and documenting the delivery of information/education to the patient, family and/or significant other on an individual basis or in a group session.
  • Demonstrates competent instruction and counseling techniques using a variety of methods, strategies, materials, technologies helpful in promoting education relative to physical activity.

Evaluating the Plan of Care:

  • Evaluates the Plan of Care, documenting the patient/client response to exercise, as well as, adherence/non-adherence to the prescribed protocols and lifestyle recommendations.
  • Evaluates the performance of each cardiovascular session by reviewing each Phase II, Heart Failure, Vascular and Community patient/client participation in the exercise sessions, their exercise prescription, documentation on their exercise work record and tolerance, including their performance in the strength-conditioning program.
  • Demonstrates knowledge of when the patient/client should not exercise as evident by changes in their mental or physical status. Communicates this information to the cardiac rehabilitation nurse specialist.
  • Documents in a timely and accurate manner any clinical findings that require medical follow-up for patient safety and treatment success.
  • Demonstrates the ability to adjust the plan of care to accommodate the individual patient needs and limitations.
  • Evaluates the participant's compliance with the home exercise treatment program by reviewing the participant's home program record when submitted by the participant.
  • Participates in patient rounds to collaborate with Cardiovascular Wellness staff regarding the progress of each participant in Phase II and Community Cardiovascular Wellness Programs.
  • Completes patient Progress Letter describing patient/client exercise and physical activity outcomes from participation in the Phase II or Community Phase programs.

Professional and Leadership:

  • Demonstrates competence in leading, monitoring, and/or supervising a wide range of individual and group therapeutic exercise sessions appropriate to patients/clients who represent the full range of risk strata.
  • Develops a cardiac teaching plan/strategy for the provision of cardiovascular education appropriate to patients/clients who represent the full range of risk strata.
  • Demonstrates critical thinking skills in practice related to area of specialty and frequently transfers that ability to less familiar areas of practice.
  • Exhibits a professional approach/demeanor and completes assignments with professional accountability.
  • Functions as a preceptor for new staff as needed.

Safety and Organization of Nursing Unit:

  • Reports faulty equipment to appropriate personnel.
  • Demonstrates understanding of appropriate use of all unit equipment.
  • Maintains a physical environment clean and free of clutter.
  • Adheres to hospital safety standards, policies and practices, and takes action to correct hazards.
  • Checks emergency equipment according to protocol.
  • Implements unit based QA activities, i.e. collects data, develops or revises tools, analyzes data.
  • Participates in monthly Cardiovascular Wellness staff meetings to discuss problems, needs, concerns and interventions as they pertain to the work setting.
  • Participates in community events sponsored by the Cardiovascular Wellness Department.
  • Identifies the need for new or revised policies and procedures.
  • Orients new staff members as assigned.
  • Attends required annual in-services.
  • Maintains current and updated qualifications/certifications according to departmental requirements.
  • Participates in department-based committees. May also sit on hospital committees.
  • Participates in appropriate role in Medical Center disasters, fire drills, fire and other situations.
  • Seeks and accepts other responsibilities as work is completed.
  • Performs similar or related duties as assigned or requested.


  • BS in Exercise Science, Exercise Physiology, Physical Therapy, Physical Education, or related field of study


  • At least 6 months experience in clinical cardiac rehabilitation or equivalency thereof.


  • BLS certified. If not BLS certified, must obtain BLS certification prior to completion of orientation, not to exceed 21 days from date of hire with Catholic Medical Center. Must maintain BLS throughout employment.