Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist

Job Description

Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialists work with patients who have been diagnosed with heart or lung disease. These patients usually suffer from long-term effects associated with heart and lung disease, and need to be educated about the steps they need to take to prolong their lifespan and improve their condition.

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 patients to live longer and participate in more activities.

Cardiopulmonary Rehab Specialists are also focused on ensuring that their patient understands what their medical regiment will consist of based on the changes in their routine to help get them on the path to a healthy well-being and are tracking their progress through various monitoring techniques like a nutrition plan, exercise track sheet, medication intake sheet, and more.

In addition, Cardiopulmonary Rehab Specialists are tasked with identifying simple routine changes that the patient can make based on the dialog between healthcare practitioner and patient. Patient’s conditions can be improved by cutting out nasty habits in their routine that they don’t realize might be contributing to their heart and lung disease like smoking, or eating a healthier diet.

Cardiopulmonary Rehab Specialists also work with patients to develop plans that the patient can follow easily. Once those plans have been established, the next part of a Cardiopulmonary’s Rehabilitation Specialist’s job is to monitor the plan with the patient to ensure that they are sticking to the plan and adhering to the recommendations that have been provided to them to improve their well-being.

Because patients sometimes struggle with the thought of changing their lifestyle in times of desperate need like a sudden health issue, your job will also revolve around providing an ear to listen to their struggles and coach them through them. Part of a Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist’s job is to coach and provide clinical counseling or guidance on some of the questions that they might have and support the patient when they struggle with their care plan.

Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialists sometimes specialize in different Cardiopulmonary issues for their patients, whereas some specialize in everything.

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 to help educate the patient and help get them on the path to improving their overall well-being.



A Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist may be expected to perform any or all of the following duties:

• Help The Patient Understand Their Condition

One of the most important things and responsibilities that a Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist is in charge of is helping the patient understand what their condition is, and how their medical regimen is going to be centered around. This includes helping them understand what changes might need to be made in their normal routine, and what they can expect moving forward.

• Explain the Course of Treatment

Another key responsibility for Cardiopulmonary Rehab Specialists revolves around explaining the course of treatment plans, and help them understand when the patient may be able to resume their normal activities.

Because patients might suffer from fatigue while suffering from heart and lung disease, the patient might be eager to find out when they can get back to living a normal life and no longer feeling fatigue. The key responsibility is to educate them about what their recovery timeline looks like, and how fast they can expect to recover.

• Provide Counseling, Coaching, and Support Based on Patient Concerns

As we’ve highlighted earlier, patients might have concerns associated with their recent diagnosis and understanding of their medical condition. They might be concerned about what their future looks like, how difficult the future might be, and any apprehension they might have about their treatment plan.

As a healthcare professional, you will be responsible for educating and providing any counseling or support they might need to adhere to their treatment plan and stay positive throughout their career.

A patient that understands their future care plan, and remains positive about their prospects will adhere to it closer and increase the chances that they improve their overall well-being.

• Identify Risk Factors

Another responsibility for Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist is to identify any risk factors that may be contributing to the patient’s disease. This includes things such as hypertension, smoking, poor diet, or obesity. There are other risk factors that you need to be aware of which can contribute to a patient’s cardiopulmonary risk and ailments.

If you can identify them, then you can work the treatment plan around reducing those risks and educating the patient about why they need to avoid them.

• Educate The Patient About Their Risk Factors

Another responsibility that Cardiopulmonary Rehab Specialists is to educate the patient about what their risk factors are, and how those risk factors can contribute to slowing down their recovery or get worse over time if no changes are made. Educating the patient about their risk factors will also revolve around educating them about how those risk factors will impact their adherence to the lifestyle changes needed to improve their health.

• Identify Potential Interventions That May Reduce Health Risks

When a patient has to radically change their lifestyle to improve their well-being and live a healthy life, these are known as interventions. As a Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist, another core responsibility is to identify any and all interventions that can be used to help reduce their risks and relapse into an unhealthy lifestyle.

• Educating The Patient About Key Lifestyle Changes

Another core responsibility for Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialists is to educate the patient about some key lifestyle changes that they are going to have to make to improve their wellness. This might include educating them about what foods they need to cut out and what foods they should eat. Recommending how often they should work out based on their current routine and the benefits of participating in such activities.

The next part of educating them about their workout routine revolves around listening to their concerns and designing a program that is both individualized and easy to follow.

Many patients find uncharacteristic motivation to make healthy changes following an initial diagnosis of heart disease or lung disease. In other words, they might find the motivation to radically change their lifestyle based on their recent diagnoses when it used to take them months or years to even work up the courage to change their lifestyle before.

Unfortunately, many may 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.

One aspect of providing positive support and providing ongoing information is to closely collaborate with the family of the patient.

Cardiopulmonary Rehab Specialists are also tasked with maintaining and staying up to date on their required continuing education credits. Because the healthcare industry is constantly changing, hospitals and healthcare organizations ask their healthcare professionals to pursue and complete continuing education credits to ensure that they are up to date on the current practices, current line of thought, future research endeavors, and current technology.

All of these things are vitally important to succeed as a Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist and to provide efficient and effective care in the ever-evolving healthcare industry.


Common Activities On The Job

For those individuals who are considering a career as a Cardiopulmonary Rehab Specialist, a glimpse into the daily routine will offer a better look at what it is like to work in this career. The following activities will give you a glimpse into what you can expect each day.

• Evaluating Patients

Arguably the most common activity on the job that you will have as a Cardiopulmonary Rehab Specialist is to evaluate the patients under your care. This involves running various tests on them, evaluating their cardiopulmonary risk factors, conducting a cardiopulmonary risk assessment, and evaluate a patient’s situation.

• Communicating With Patients

The next common activity on the job as a Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist is to communication with patients and their family members about their diagnosis. This means effective communication must be provided in what their diagnosis means, what their future health outlook looks like, what changes need to be made in their lifestyle, how their progress must be tracked, and the importance of changing their lifestyle for the long term.

• Communicating With Healthcare Professionals

Another thing that you can expect in your daily routine as a Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist is to communicate with other healthcare professionals. The healthcare industry is a collaborative environment, and the most important thing in the healthcare industry is to help improve each patient.

To accomplish this, extensive teamwork is needed to ensure that all of the healthcare professionals that are directly working with one patient are on the same page to ensure that the patient is on the correct path to achieving a healthy lifestyle. In addition, healthcare professionals might not directly tell the patient to seek a specialist for what they are dealing with but will consult with you to evaluate what you think the next course of action should be.

As a Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist, you should expect to provide feedback and guidance to other healthcare professionals who are unfamiliar with certain concerns as it relates to their patient’s care.

• Monitor Patient Progress

Another common task each day for Cardiopulmonary Rehab Specialists is to frequently monitor and check in with patients regarding their progress. This involves checking in with them to make sure that they are following their treatment plan, that they aren’t having any complications, and that they are maintaining a positive attitude about their future.

• Provide Guidance When Necessary

Patients will often have questions when while they are going through their care and treatment plan. As a healthcare professional, one of your daily tasks will be to provide guidance to them when necessary and support them when they struggle with some of the more difficult to grasp concepts as it relates to their treatment plan and care plan.

• Stay Up To Date On New Healthcare Industry Trends

As a Cardiopulmonary Rehab Specialist, another common activity relates to staying up to date on some of the new industry trends. For instance, this will be evaluating some of the new technology that is being developed, new industry guidelines, new research that is being conducted, and more.

• Stay Up To Date On New Career Trends

Another important activity is to stay up to date on new career trends that are currently changing or shaping the future career of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialists. This might include some new evaluation techniques, new research considerations, new research findings and presentations, and new technology that will help increase the reliability of current methods.

As a Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist, it’s an important step to stay up to date on future career trends to ensure that you’re prepared for changes in your career as they pop up in the ever-evolving healthcare industry.

• Stay Up To Date On Continuing Education Credits

Another important element of working as a Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist involves staying up to date on the required continuing education credits that are required for healthcare professionals. Continuing education credits ensure that you’re up to date on the new methods, modern evaluation procedures, regulations, and technology.



As a Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist, it is recommended that you have the following skills to ensure that you are successful in your future career:



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.

If you're interested in learning what it takes to become a Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist, take the time to review our extensive career path guide on How To Become a Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist.


Salary Outlook