Demystifying ECMO: Patient Selection and Nursing Priorities

Part of AACN Critical Care Webinar Series

Presenter(s): Bradford Anderson, MSN, AGACNP-BC, CES-A; Rachel K Sterling, MSN, AGACNP-BC

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Webinar Summary

Caring for critically ill patients often requires the use of complex therapies such as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). While the benefits of using ECMO as an interim, lifesaving treatment for patients with severe respiratory or cardiac failure is well documented, this therapy requires specialized training and expertise to implement it safely and effectively.

Get the latest information and best practices for providing care to patients on ECMO by attending this webinar. The presenters provide a systematic introduction to the foundational principles of ECMO and discuss its essential role in managing cardiac and pulmonary failure. The webinar also addresses patient selection criteria and nursing roles and responsibilities, and features a case study to help facilitate practical application of theoretical knowledge. After viewing, you will have a clear understanding of ECMO and your role in navigating the care of patients on ECMO.


  • Recognize early indicators and assess clinical cues that warrant consideration for ECMO intervention.
  • Differentiate between various patient profiles to identify those patients suitable for ECMO therapy.
  • Identify nursing roles and responsibilities in managing the treatment of patients on ECMO.


Bradford Anderson, MSN, AGACNP-BC, CES-A

Bradford Anderson, MSN, AGACNP-BC, CES-A

Bradford Anderson is director of training and education at the Institute for Extracorporeal Life Support, transport coordinator for ECMO Transports LLC and an advanced ECMO specialist at San Antonio Methodist Hospital. Anderson has more than seven years of experience providing bedside critical care with an emphasis on extracorporeal life support, cardiothoracic surgical intensive care, cardiovascular intensive care and lung rescue intensive care. He has served over 10 years in the U.S. Army as part of the Texas National Guard, with positions including battalion medical operations officer and Hurricane Harvey liaison officer at the Texas Emergency Operations Center.

Rachel K Sterling, MSN, AGACNP-BC

Rachel K Sterling, MSN, AGACNP-BC

Rachel Sterling is a nurse practitioner (NP) at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio. In her NP role, she primarily cares for and facilitates the treatment of patients with acute respiratory and/or cardiopulmonary failure supported with ECMO. Prior to becoming an NP in 2020, Sterling worked as a direct care nurse in the Cardiovascular ICU for five years. Sterling’s experience also includes serving as an ECMO coordinator and assisting with the development of quality initiatives for her hospital’s ECMO program.

Continuing Education Disclosure Statement

Successful Completion

Learners must attend/view/read the entire activity, read Implicit Bias impacts patient outcomes, and complete the associated evaluation to be awarded the contact hours or CERP. No partial credit will be awarded.


The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses is accredited as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation.

Provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider number CEP 1036, for 1.00 contact hours.

Accreditation refers to recognition of continuing education only and does not imply AACN, ANCC, or CBRN approval or endorsement of any commercial products discussed or displayed in conjunction with this educational activity.


Any relevant relationship between an ineligible company and an individual with the ability to influence clinical content will be identified by the Nurse Planner within the activity. Any relevant relationship between an ineligible company and an individual with the ability to influence clinical content has been mitigated.

AACN programming meets the standards for most states that require mandatory continuing education contact hours for license and/or certification renewal. AACN recommends consulting with your state board of nursing or credentialing organization before submitting CE to fulfill continuing education requirements.

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Continuing Education Activities are nonrefundable.