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ELSO Adult ECMO Practitioner Certification (E-AEC)



The Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) is excited to announce the launch of ELSO Adult ECMO Certification (E-AEC).  With the rapid expansion of ECMO application across the globe comes a need for standardized ECMO education to achieve optimal patient care and research.


While ELSO and other healthcare institutions provide ECMO training courses, conferences, and workshops, historically, there has been little in the way of evidence-based guidelines to connect ECMO education to high quality clinical practice. ECMO practitioners receive training and maintain competency based, most commonly, on requirements established at an institutional level, which can vary significantly between centers. Therefore, a need had been identified to define and establish a certification process for ECMO practitioners. 


ELSO is committed to helping the international ECMO community define a minimum knowledge and skills standard for those providing ECMO care. These requirements will allow for the standardization of ECMO practice across sites and healthcare disciplines, further establishing recognition of the unique skill set required for the competent practice of ECMO.


ELSO’s vision is to make standardized ECMO education globally available - developing and offering ELSO courses and providing a syllabus created by an international group of experts to serve as a roadmap for development and enhancement of courses hosted by institutions around the world.


To this end, ELSO has outlined standardized educational criteria and launched an online application process via ELSO Academy for ECMO clinicians who have demonstrated satisfactory completion of the below criteria. This journey is designed to be inclusive of the entire ECMO interprofessional team. In addition, this application process will allow ELSO to review and verify individuals’ ECMO educational journey as meeting the key minimum and standardized criteria. Certification is valid for three years; upon which time a renewal can be pursued to maintain certification.  


Satisfactory completion of the criteria listed below, will provide practitioners access to sit for the ELSO – Adult ECMO Certification Exam (E-AEC).  This exam is comprised of National Board of Medical Examiner (NBME)-style questions aimed at helping health professionals, across the continuum of care, enhance and demonstrate their clinical knowledge.  ELSO undertook a multi-stage implementation process to ensure we can bring forward a solid knowledge assessment tool for the ECMO community.  Our process included several rounds of psychometric analysis, on both expert and novice level ECMO clinicians. 


The ELSO Adult ECMO Certification Exam is proctored using a software program that must be downloaded to your computer.  You are responsible for making sure that the proctoring software works with your system before you purchase the exam. You are responsible for making sure that the proctoring software works with your system BEFORE you take a proctored exam. ELSO recommends that you use a personal laptop or iPad to complete the E-AEC Exam. Institution-owned devices typically are programmed with software that may not be compatible with the exam. To verify that your device meets the minimum requirements, please refer to this link: https://help.examsoft.com/s/article/Minimum-System-Requirements 


Criteria required for ELSO Practitioner Certification:

  1. Didactic course
    1. Eligible options below, must be completed within the past 15 years
      1. Online ELSO didactic course: ELSO Foundations (available since December 2021)
      2. Virtual ELSO Adult ECMO Management Course (November 2020, February 2021, November 2021)
      3. ELSO Comprehensive Simulation-Based Course (in-person, prior to 2021)
      4. ELSO-endorsed in-person course (note: must be a comprehensive course, not specialized workshop)
      5. Other courses which encompass ELSO’s standardized learning objectives
  2. Simulation lab
    1. Eligible options below, must be completed within the past 15 years
      1. ELSO Comprehensive Simulation-Based Course (in-person, prior to 2021)
      2. In-person ELSO-endorsed course (note: must be a comprehensive course, not specialized workshop)
      3. Other in-person courses which include, but not limited to, ELSO’s essential simulation scenarios:
        1. drainage insufficiency
        2. air embolism
        3. pump failure
        4. membrane lung failure
        5. gas failure
  3. Clinical bedside experience
    1. Signed attestation from your institution verifying completion of a minimum of 16-32 proctored hours (or 2 - 4 ECMO days) followed by a minimum of one 8-hour shift (or one day) every 8 weeks, for an average of 56 hours (or eight days) of ECMO patient care per year for a minimum of 6 months.

If you have met the above criteria, have supporting documentation ready, and want to submit an application to take the exam apply here:  ELSO Academy  

Once your application has been accepted, you will select your testing date window.  Exams will be available for download starting the 3rd Tuesday of every month, and will be available to complete during a 14-day period.  Once you start the exam, you will have three hours to complete it.  

The exam fee is  $300 US dollars.


ELSO Adult ECMO Practitioner Certification Webinar

Held on March 23, 2022, 4pm Eastern Time

E-AEC Info session: all you need to know about the ELSO Adult ECMO Practitioner Certification

Topics covered (ABCDE): application - how to apply for E-AEC; bedside experience and other criteria required to apply for ELSO Practitioner Certification; documentation needed to successfully submit an application; and exam technical details about proctoring system and exam content.

You may view this at: https://youtu.be/VGA7jHwiBaI

Send questions to ecmotraining@elso.org



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