Here’s How RNs Can Get Their Advanced Cardiac Life Support Certification
Nursing is a noble and popular profession. With over 4.2 million registered nurses, 325,000 nurse practitioners, and close to a million LPNs/LVNs in the United States, there are 4x as many nurses as physicians.
And with each state commission on accreditation mandating its own requirements for obtaining nursing licensure, it can be challenging for these busy healthcare professionals to find suitable continuing education courses to meet their CEU and contact hour requirements.
Depending on the state you practice in, the BLS, PALS, and ACLS are basic certifications that may be required for license renewal. However, more and more healthcare settings require their nurses to obtain the ACLS certification during the license renewal process.
Whether you are new to nursing or a provider looking to build and deliver a great CME course, you may have some questions.
What is the ACLS, why does it matter, and how can you get your ACLS certification in time for your next renewal cycle?
What Is ACLS?
ACLS stands for Advanced Cardiac Life Support. It’s designed to give life-saving skills to healthcare professionals, like nurses, who work directly with patients who may experience cardiopulmonary arrest or experience other cardiovascular emergencies. It’s also for workers in the emergency response field.
ACLE certification courses teach a variety of essential skills, including:
Practical resuscitation team communication skills
Chest compressions, bag-mask device use, AEDs, and other important life support topics.
Respiratory care and cardiac arrest recognition.
Early management of respiratory and cardiac emergencies
Management of patient airways
Related pharmacology topics
ACS and stroke management
Your first certification will take two days. At the end of the course, you’ll take both a written and practical hands-on exam. Your ACLS certification will be valid for two years.
If you’re already proficient in providing ACLS, there are ACLS recertification courses for experienced providers who need a refresher or update on best practices. It’s compressed into an eight-hour course.
If you allow your ACLS renewal to lapse, you must take the two-day course, regardless of your employment status. So it’s essential to keep tabs on your cert with a CME tracker or on your personal calendar.
Who Needs Continuing Education Credits For ACLS?
While most healthcare providers are required to obtain their Basic Life Support or BLS certification, not all must also attend ACLS courses.
Here are some of the healthcare professionals who must earn an ACLS certification for their licensure:
Emergency room nurses and doctors
Nurses in critical care units
Pediatric nurses on assignment with high-risk pediatric patients
Nurses who work in settings where cardiac arrest is likely to occur, like nursing homes or rehabilitation centers
Obtaining an Advanced Cardiac Life Support cert helps prepare nurses to provide critical care to patients experiencing a cardiac or respiratory emergency.
It also helps nurses catch such problems early on, which may mean the difference between life and death for a patient in need.
Let’s take a look at the difference between an ACLS and other certifications, like BLS and PALS.
Is ACLS Like BLS And PALS?
Yes, it’s in the same category, as they all teach resuscitation skills to various healthcare providers. However, there are some critical differences between these three certifications that make them each a unique experience.
Basic Life Support, or BLS, is required for all registered nurses, as well as EMTs, doctors, firefighters, dentists, and other professionals who work closely with patients.
The BLS certification helps nurses learn how to properly administer CPR to adults, infants, and children. It also covers the basics of AED use, ventilation skills, and other techniques that they can use to help save lives. Much like ACLS, BLS recertification is required every two years.
The PALS certification stands for Pediatric Advanced Life Support. It’s designed to help participants administer life-saving treatment to children, adolescents, and infants. Since they are smaller than an average adult, the respiratory care and life support techniques taught in these courses are slightly different.
Not only do participants learn modified life support techniques, but socio-emotional approaches to address trauma since young people are more likely to be scared in these situations. The renewal period for PALS recertification is also every two years.
So the main difference between these certifications is that ACLS is the next level of life support skills for adults while PALS focuses primarily on pediatric application.
Does ACLS Count Towards Recertification For Nurses?
Yes, you can potentially earn CE hours for ACLS certification. According to the American Heart Association, you can earn continuing medical education or CME credits depending on which course offerings you choose.
For instance, some states require an ACLS certification for licensure, so nurses and other healthcare professionals can obtain it for current or future job requirements. The Florida Board of Nursing will count an ACLS certification course for eight CME/CEU contact hours, while ACLS recertification will count toward four contact hours.
However, even if your state accrediting agency does not require you to obtain an ACLS, many still count these credit hours towards recertification requirements. The education activity must be offered by an approved provider, like the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
Find The Best Way To Get Your ACLS Certification
Some hospitals will accept online ACLS courses, while others require you to complete some form of a hands-on education program to ensure you have the live experience administering these life-saving procedures.
Hybrid online courses are an excellent way for nursing professionals to get their ACLS certification while maintaining their ordinarily busy schedules.
This means some components of the online course will be done via webinar or webcast, while others will be in-person to fulfill that continuing medical education requirement.
Design And Offer An ACLS Certification Course To Healthcare Your Staff
If you are a continuing medical education provider looking to design the right CME course for your staff, BeaconLive can help.
Our continuing education solution will help you streamline your CE workflow. From building your continuing medical education course to administering and tracking participant certifications, our professionals can help.
Contact us today for more information on how BeaconLive can help you implement ACLS certification for your target audience.