ACLS certification and training for nurses
ACLS stands for Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support. The ACLS Certification is more complex than the Basic Life Support certification taken by health professionals. It entails restoring the normal breathing and heartbeat of a patient that has lost consciousness.
Basic Life Support (BLS) caregivers normally check a patient’s airway, breathing, circulation and in some instances use chest compressions and automated external defibrillators. With the certification, a health provider is able to do all of that and more as they will be equipped with the knowledge on how to use machines and tools such as electrocardiograms to treat patients during a medical emergency.
It is important that all medical professionals get ACLS certification because BLS caregivers can only give basic assistance to keep a patient alive until skilled initial responders show up. But ACLS-certified individuals can aid in more extensive rescue and resuscitation procedures. The courses are offered to doctors, paramedics, nurses, emergency health technicians, respiratory therapists and all other health care givers.
Recently in the US, it has become mandatory for all nurses to get ACLS-certified. Nurses provide the most patient care as they monitor and directly attend to patients. In case any problem arises with a patient in the hospital, the first people to respond are nurses. Therefore, it is imperative that they have the right skills to save a patient’s life. ACLS certification gives them this ability as they become more knowledgeable with the equipment and procedures that can help them in saving the life of a patient.
ACLS certification courses take 13 weeks, which includes written and practical exams. One can register for ACLS courses in a classroom setting from an authorized ACLS certification site. One can also sign up for the course directly with the American Heart Association (AHA).
Classroom settings are preferred because they give students a chance to apply the techniques they study. Some programs allow for students to study online. However, they are also required to take some courses in a classroom setting. This setup is very important since online training primarily offers theoretical teachings whereas a huge part of ACLS training is practical. In fact one has to take a practical exam in order to pass the training.
ACLS training is also offered online since not every nurse will be in a position to go to a classroom. Online training has become very popular among training professionals and it works well for nurses since they usually have tight work schedules. Online training allows students to take the courses at their own pace. Some nurses work in areas where courses are not available in classrooms. So, the availability of an online training facility has given every nurse a chance to get ACLS-certified.
Some local hospitals also offer ACLS certification training courses. Nurses can check with the hospital’s education departments to find out if courses are being offered. Usually employees are given discounts while training in the hospitals they work. Nurses have an advantage because whether they choose to attend classes, study online or enroll in a training program from the hospital, they get to learn and test their skills daily.
Once the training is complete, one has to pass the ACLS certification exam. If they pass the exam, then and only then do they get certified. There are several things a person can do to ensure that they prepare amply for the exam. First is to ensure the completion of the coursework effectively. Because the training content is extensive, it is important that one purchase the preparation guide, which provides a guideline of all the things that is expected in the exams. The third thing each student should do is review all five algorithms – Asystole, Cardioversion, Bradycardia, Tachycardia, PEA, and VF/PVT. These five make the core of the ACLS training and students need to learn these algorithms.
Last but not least, review case scenarios. This is important because in the exam, a student is given different medical situations and asked to give answers on how they would treat patients with cardiac distress signs. This would require not just knowing the theoretical answers in ACLS training but being able to interpret and apply that information to each unique scenario.
Because new research and data about CPR effectiveness and the latest cardiac information is constantly being unraveled, the course guidelines keep changing. For this reason, the ACLS certification is only valid for a period of 2 years. It is important for nurses to go through recertification so that their learning stays fresh and their ability to handle medical emergencies gets enhanced. Nurses who go through recertification increase their chances of advancing their careers. It is also a requirement for all nurses in the USA to have ACLS certification. It only serves well to keep recertifying, otherwise, you might find yourself lagging behind and jeopardizing your career.