Medical community looks to Benedictine for highly trained exercise physiologists

March 4, 2016

Lisle, Illinois ~ Benedictine University’s Master of Science (M.S.) in Clinical Exercise Physiology program satisfies a growing need within the health care industry for more highly trained professionals who can use exercise to effectively prevent disease and improve overall wellness for people with high blood pressure, diabetes and other chronic medical conditions.

Benedictine is currently accepting applications for this highly visible and respected program in advance of an August 31 start date or for classes beginning in Fall 2017.

The two-year, adult evening program is well-recognized by Chicago area medical providers for its rigorous biomedical coursework and advanced courses in physiology, biochemistry, pathophysiology and pharmacology. It was designed with input from a committee of practicing exercise physiology professionals in accordance with the guidelines designated by the American College of Sports Medicine for certification as a registered clinical exercise physiologist.

The credential is considered the gold standard of health fitness certification because it not only encourages individual education and behavior change in patients, but also working with teams of health care professionals who are dedicated to raising the bar of patient and client care. In addition to professional preparation, the program provides an excellent educational background for those who wish to pursue further study to become medical doctors, physician assistants or doctors of physical therapy, or who want to earn a Ph.D. in exercise physiology.

Applicants do not need to complete the Graduate Record Examination, but must have earned an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited university with coursework in exercise physiology, biomechanics/kinesiology, general chemistry, biochemistry, nutrition, statistics and anatomy to be considered for the program. Students who have only completed a portion of this coursework may apply and be admitted on a conditional basis.

The program requires students to complete two internships at cardiac rehabilitation, diagnostics, pediatric cardiology and clinical research facilities, major hospitals, or in athletic performance, senior fitness and wellness programming.

These experiences not only enhance knowledge and skills, they help graduates like Betsy Hart to develop a professional network, make connections and find job opportunities at a rapid pace.

“It’s a great field if you enjoy helping people change their lives and improve their health, and a great way to combine your love of fitness, nutrition and healthcare,” said Hart, who is a clinical exercise physiologist at MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn. “The impression you make with your professors and you internship supervisors has the greatest impact on your career. These professionals can help tremendously by connecting you to future jobs.

“My former employer was a Benedictine graduate who understood my education and how well prepared I was, and hired me with a contingency that I graduate within six months of my start date,” Hart added.

Students benefit from seasoned faculty members and health care practitioners like Brian Saso, manager of Cardiology Services at Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, and David Zanghi, director of cardio diagnostics, wound care and cardiology outreach services at Edward Hospital in Naperville. Both earned graduate degrees from Benedictine.

“My previous boss went to Benedictine and told me about the program,” Zanghi said. “I was working in cardiac rehabilitation at the time and wanted to get into management and advance in my current position as an exercise physiologist. Within a year of graduating from Benedictine, I was promoted to a management position. For exercise physiology, it is the best program in the area.”

Graduates have secured positions in hospitals across the Chicago area, including Edward Hospital, Rush University Medical Center, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Rush-Copley Medical Center, Silver Cross Hospital, Northwest Community Hospital, Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital and Advocate Christ Medical Center. They also work at PepsiCo’s Gatorade Sports Science Institute and hold faculty-level positions at colleges and universities across the country.

The program at Benedictine offers students the opportunity to gain experience assessing the health and fitness levels of a diverse group of people who have a wide range of athletic ability.

A partnership with Villa St. Benedict, a continuing care retirement community in Lisle, provides students with experience teaching group fitness classes, leading residents through customized exercise programs and performing fitness and balance assessments to individuals with hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, cognitive impairments, orthopedic impairments and other conditions.

Students can also gain research experience in data analysis and interpretation in the program’s Clinical Exercise Physiology Laboratory, which can lead to co-authorship in abstracts and manuscripts presented at regional or national conferences.

If you are a highly motivated person who takes pride in building a sound scientific knowledge base about exercise physiology, Benedictine encourages you to apply to the M.S. in Clinical Exercise Physiology program by visiting or contacting Rose Fisk at or (630) 829-6565.


Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 10,000 students in 56 undergraduate and 19 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among “America’s Top Colleges” for the fifth consecutive year in 2015, and the University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business as the fifth largest in the Chicago area.

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Gary Kohn
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