Cardiac Clinical Specialists have the chance to build meaningful careers and relationships with their patients. Working as a Cardiac Clinical Specialist or Cardiac Medical Device Specialist offers the opportunity for a personally satisfying career while making a good living. It’s gratifying to have some of the country’s best cardiologists and electrophysiologists looking to you for expertise about a cardiac medical device or therapy. It’s fulfilling to know you have played a role in helping people overcome heart problems. And there is no better feeling than knowing that your work as a cardiac clinical specialist has helped a patient lead a fuller life.
A cardiac clinical specialist provides procedural support, patient monitoring, and training and education. The clinical specialist enables the clinical and technical applications of medical devices by performing diagnostic tests during complex cardiac procedures including device implantations and electrophysiology mapping and ablation.
Below you’ll find a general guide to Cardiac Clinical Specialist training and testing. In this article we’ll cover the educational requirements, personal qualities, clinical and classroom training requirements, and certifications in the cardiac medical device space.
Educational requirements for Cardiac Clinical Specialists
You’ll see that most job descriptions for Cardiac Clinical Specialist or Cardiac Medical Device Specialist posted online have the following basic qualifications listed:
|Associates Degree + 4 yrs work experience in healthcare/related space
|Bachelor’s Degree + 2 yrs work experience in healthcare/related space
|Bachelor’s Degree + currently enrolled in cardiac clinical specialist certificate program
Of course, as a Clinical Specialist you may be employed by a hospital or by a medical device company. When employed by a hospital, a Cardiac Device Specialist may work in a cardiology clinic seeing patients for device follow-up checks or work in a cardiac cath lab or EP lab providing clinical support during device implantation or EP mapping procedures. When employed by a medical device company, a Cardiac Clinical Specialists balances clinical support and commercial functions in their role. He or she supports device implantation procedures, visits clinics to run diagnostic tests to monitor patient’s devices such as pacemakers and ICDs, and presents technical product information at company meetings and to physicians and clinic staff. Electrophysiology Mapping Specialists support EP procedures such as cardiac ablation by performing 3D mapping of the heart and performing diagnostic tests.
This is a rewarding line of work—but it’s also a demanding one. You will need to develop a strong clinical understanding and technical expertise about cardiovascular disease and therapies. When working for a healthcare system you must learn about all of the manufacturer’s devices and therapies. When working for a medical device company you must become the expert on your product line, all while also managing customer relationships.
Personal qualities that make great Cardiac Clinical Specialists
- Driven—willing to work hard, work long, and spot opportunities
- Quick study—able to absorb and apply new information in a short amount of time
- Personable—medical device careers touch many lives, and you should be able to relate to everyone you meet on your sales round
- Detail-oriented—your work has a direct impact on patient quality of life
- Clear communicator—you’ll need to persuade and instruct as part of your role, so writing and presentation skills matter
- Confident handling data—whether it’s device data or sales data, you will need to analyze numbers and create reports
- Comfortable in medical settings—you’re likely to be present at operations, so a sturdy constitution is necessary
You can always strive to improve these qualities. The more exposure you get to patients, the healthcare setting and teamwork, the more you can refine these skills.
Cardiac Clinical Specialist training in the classroom
Various occupational clinical specialist training programs exist in a variety of medical specialties such as medical assistant, cardiology, radiology, orthopedics, and nursing. If you’ve enrolled in a Cardiac Clinical Specialist occupational training program, you’ll want to ensure your program provides clinical and technical applications, medical device business and market knowledge, and hands-on learning with cardiac devices and therapies.
Typical program curriculum includes foundational knowledge covering cardiac rhythm management (CRM), electrophysiology (EP), structural heart and interventional cardiology disease states, devices and therapies.
Cardiac Clinical Specialist training in clinical practice
Every Cardiac Clinical Specialist training program should include some hand-on training. In addition to classroom instruction, you’ll need to learn a broad range of clinical skills.
You’ll want to experience an immersive, hands-on approach in a technologically advanced environment to ensure you are well-prepared as a future medical device professional.
The certification process
You may become a Certified Cardiac Device Specialist (CCDS) or Certified Electrophysiology Specialist (CEPS) after gaining experience in the field and taking an examination conducted by International Board of Heart Rhythm Society (IBHRE®).
|The IBHRE® CCDS exam assesses essential clinical knowledge for those working in the field of pacemakers and ICDS and patient followup. The exam eligibility criteria must be met before an individual may sit for the exam. This exam is typically taken after a clinical specialist has a minimum of 12 months of relevant cardiac clinical experience.
|The IBHRE® CEPS exam assesses the core competencies and clinical knowledge for those working in the field of Electrophysiology. The exam eligibility criteria must be met before an individual may sit for the exam. This exam is typically taken after an EP mapping clinical specialist has a minimum of 12 months of relevant EP clinical experience.
|IBHRE® CDRMS exam assesses the competency and skill level of practitioners who use remote monitoring for cardiac patients. The exam eligibility criteria must be met before an individual may sit for the exam. This exam is typically taken after a cardiac clinical specialist has a minimum of 12 months of relevant cardiac remote monitoring clinical experience.
Your career as a Cardiac Clinical Specialist – next steps
A Cardiac Clinical Specialist or Medical Device Specialist must have a deep knowledge of cardiac therapies and products and the associated clinical data. This position requires someone with a strong clinical aptitude who can work in a team environment. The Clinical Specialist supports all areas of cardiac cases including pre-case planning and patient recommended treatments. The Cardiac Clinical Specialist is a trusted advisor and seen as a clinical expert by the treatment team. Job titles include clinical specialist, device technician, remote monitoring specialist, EP technician, field clinical representative, technical service specialist, and EP mapping specialist. Titles and roles vary, depending upon the employer.
Career opportunities for clinical specialists exist in various cardiac specialties in cardiac rhythm management, electrophysiology, structural heart and interventional cardiology. Some clinical specialists move on into cardiac remote monitoring roles if they prefer to work remotely and of course many clinical specialists move on to sales and management roles as well.
Clinical Specialist jobs exist throughout the healthcare space, and in many cardiology specialty areas. Hopefully you now have a clear understanding of what a Cardiac Clinical Specialist does and what a training program should include. Now that you’re armed with this information, you may be eager to take the next step by learning more one of the training programs to help you get there. As a Cardiac Clinical Specialist, you can expect to enjoy a dynamic role and a personally satisfying career while making a difference in the lives of patients. Good luck to you for a successful new career!