By Denise Williams | News & Views
Calling all voracious learners! If you believe there’s no such thing as too much education, if you never tire of building your own knowledge base and if you’re always pursuing ways to be a better cardiopulmonary professional, AACVPR has an enticing new opportunity with your name on it. Get ready, organizers urge, for the Exercise Prescription Masterclass.
The title is in deference to the original Masterclass that took the online education world by storm nearly a decade ago. Still a popular source of coaching and instruction today, the platform hosts experts at the top of their field, from actors to pastry chefs, as they share insight packaged in series of digestible chunks, or lessons. Now, AACVPR is drawing from its own deep well of talent and adapting the concept to meet the needs of the cardiopulmonary rehabilitation community – from one end of the continuum to the other.
“It’s designed for multidisciplinary healthcare professionals who work in the cardiac rehabilitation (CR) or pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) space,” explains AACVPR Immediate Past President Ash Walker, DHSc, ACSM-CEP, EIM-3, FAACVPR, who serves as course director for the program. “That can be anybody from clinical exercise physiologists to nurses, dietitians, behavioral health specialists, even supervising physicians and medical directors. It’s not targeted just for one specific discipline, which makes this a unique offering for AACVPR.”
As can be deduced from the title, AACVPR’s version of Masterclass will revolve around exercise science, assessment, and prescription. It’s not a new topic by any means, but how it’ll be delivered is. As such, it won’t stick religiously to the Masterclass template. Instead of the typical series of 4- to 5-minute pre-recorded modules to click through, for example, AACVPR is curating a collection of 30- to 45-minute virtual lessons to be presented in real time over the course of half a day. Unlike Masterclass, which generally doesn’t offer a certificate for completing coursework, professionals who complete the AACVPR course qualify for continuing education credits. And while interaction between presenters and participants is the exception rather than the rule with most Masterclass tutorials, that engagement is at the very heart of AACVPR’s reimagined format. Participants can expect more of a hands-on feel, with Q&A time carved out, along with Zoom breakout-room discussions, case study analyses and other activities that Walker says aim to “give attendees real practice with the topics that the faculty are going to talk about.”
Specifically, he cites five key areas of focus for the workshop:
- Foundational exercise principles – the basics of exercise science
- Exercise assessment – which, at least theoretically, Walker says every individual who enrolls in CR or PR should undergo
- Development of the exercise prescription – based on the exercise assessment
- Design and modification – titrating the exercise program as the human body adapts and becomes accustomed to activity
- Special considerations – identifying and addressing underlying medical conditions that CR/PR patients may have in addition to the cardiac and/or pulmonary diagnoses that brought them to rehab
According to Walker, even with a parade of previous educational opportunities around exercise science – including some that cater specifically to its application among clinical populations – there remains a profound need for the new offering. “I think the exercise prescription and assessment process is too often just an afterthought,” he says ruefully. “And it shouldn’t be.” For context, Walker refers to a hypothetical 68-year-old patient who’s never been exposed to any kind of structured exercise program. The participant walks onto the rehab floor, takes in the various pieces of equipment and is immediately overwhelmed and intimidated. What kind of clinical outcomes would be expected of this patient if their exercise prescription is trial and error, Walker wonders?
As another example, he recounts an anecdote, relayed by past AACVPR President Carl King, EdD, MAACVPR, that has always resonated with him. Dr. King had been consulting at an unidentified CR program, as Walker remembers the story. He entered the clinic and inquired about the facility’s exercise prescription process. Per Dr. King, the following exchange ensued:
Facility’s CR professional: Every time a new patient enrolls in CR, we just put them over here on the treadmill at 2 mph.
Dr. King: Okay, but what if they can’t walk at 2 mph?
Facility’s CR Professional: Well, we put them at 2 mph because that’s as slow as the treadmill will go.
Dr. King: (dumbfounded): But…what if they CAN’T WALK at 2 mph?!
Facility’s CR professional: Then, they just can’t exercise with us.
“I wish that story wasn’t true,” Walker says with frustration. “But I can tell you from my own first-hand experience [that it is].” It’s inconceivable to him that, with all of the evidence-based best practices around the development, progression and benefit optimization of an exercise plan, some programs could still be so far behind the times. There’s a wealth of science to support CR and PR professionals in getting the most out of the exercise segment of rehab, he continues. “And that’s what we want, because not only is that going to strengthen the outcomes that they’re going to have, it’s going to strengthen outcomes for the program. But if you overlook the importance of the science – if you just shrug exercise off as something that anybody can do…that’s not really scientific. That’s trial and error, and we can do better than that.”
Walker envisions the Exercise Prescription Masterclass as a way to bring anybody, and everybody, in the profession up to speed, whether they just graduated last spring and have been working in the field for less than a year or whether they’ve got 10 years of experience in CR/PR under their belts already. Someone might already have a background in exercise science, for instance, but their knowledge may be generalized – not drilled down specifically to the rehab setting.
“Even if I think I know some of the latest knowledge, maybe I don’t know it all – maybe there’s a pearl or two that I can pick up from some of these experts in each of these areas,” Walker continues. “Even someone like me, who’s being doing this for 20+ years…if I saw the content experts for each of these sections in the course offering, I’d want to hear what they have to say, just because they’re players in this field.”
Crème de la Crème Coaching
Walker is referring to whom he says are “some of the best experts in the space,” plucked from AACVPR’s own membership roster. Respected names like Mandy Bonikowske, PhD; Clinton Brawner, PhD, ACSM-CEP, FACSM; Anne Gavic, MPA, RCEP, MAACVPR; Garrett Kellar, EdD, CCRP, RCEP, EP-C, EIM-3; Erik Ostrowski, MS, ACSM-RCEP, ACSM-CEP, EIM-3, CCRP; Katherine Menson, DO; and Patrick Savage, MS, FAACVPR. AACVPR developers “thought very strategically about who has done a lot [in the five targeted areas] and who would be best at delivering the latest evidence in these particular domains,“ Walker notes. “The people we’ve chosen are presenting at conferences, they’re doing research, they’re publishing, they’re helping to write the textbooks. The faculty we’ve lined up is second to none.”
With the coursework locked in and the All-Star team of instructors assembled, organizers have officially set the date for May 21 and opened up registration. Walker expects the limited space – the event will welcome AACVPR members as well as anyone else who is interested – to go fast. To serve up the kind of highly interactive, highly engaging experience the Exercise Prescription Masterclass aspires to, “you can’t do it with 500 people,” he maintains. “You’re going to have to have ‘reserved seating,’ so to speak.”
For those who sign up before the cutoff point, he predicts all will leave the training enriched. Maybe they’ll be inspired by a best practice that could fit well with their program, he muses, or maybe they’ll recognize a need to rethink their own process. The bottom line, Walker concludes, is that “this class is going to help our membership. It’s going to enhance their skills. In one half-day, they are going to get the latest and best science; and they’re not going to have to go buy five different textbooks to do it. They’re not going to have to piece together information from other continuing education workshops from different professional organizations. We’re going to have it all right here in one place – and that’s what makes this course unique and different and exciting.”