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Development of the Adult ECMO Specialist Certification Examination

The American Society of Extracorporeal Technology Board of Directors, consistent with the American Society of Extracorporeal Technology’s safe patient care improvement mission, charged the International Board of Blood Management to write a knowledge and skill certification examination for healthcare personnel employed as adult extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) specialists. Nineteen nationally recognized ECMO subject-matter experts were selected to complete the examination development. A job analysis was performed, yielding a job description and examination plan focused on 16 job categories. Multiple-choice test items were created and validated. Qualified ECMO specialists were identified to complete a pilot examination and both pre- and postexamination surveys. The examination item difficulty and candidate performance were ranked and matched using Rasch methodology. Candidates’ examination scores were compared with their profession, training, and experience as ECMO specialists. The 120-item pilot examination form ranked 76 ECMO specialist candidates consistent with their licensure, ECMO training, and clinical experience. Forty-three registered nurses, 28 registered respiratory therapists, four certified clinical perfusionists, and one physician assistant completed the pilot examination process. Rasch statistics revealed examination reliability coefficients of .83 for candidates and .88 for test items. Candidates ranked the appropriateness for examination items consistent with the item content, difficulty, and their personal examination score. The pilot examination pass rate was 80%. The completed examination product scheduled for enrollment in March 2020 includes 100 verified test items with an expected pass rate of 84% at a cut score of 67%. The online certification examination based on a verified job analysis provides an extramural assessment that ranks minimally prepared ECMO specialists’ knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) consistent with safe ECMO patient care and circuit management. It is anticipated that ECMO facilities and ECMO service providers will incorporate the certification examination as part of their process improvement, safety, and quality assurance plans.

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