What is ACLS?
Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support, or ACLS, is the process used to revive and treat a patient in acute cardiac distress. ACLS providers must be licensed and certified. Not everyone is qualified to become a licensed provider. Those qualified to become certified in ACLS may include doctors, nurses, paramedics, advanced-level EMT’s, and nurse practitioners.
Duties of ACLS Providers
Duties of ACLS providers include, but are not limited to:
- Starting IVs
- Performing and reading tests
- Performing defibrillation
- Administering emergency medication
It is important to note that these actions are being performed by a provider in times of a medical crisis. These may occur outside of a hospital, adding problems which may be beyond the provider’s control. ACLS professionals must have the ability to remain calm and in control at all times, even in dangerous situations.
Certified providers may also be required to provide advanced life support measures for patients experiencing symptoms of a stroke. These situations will require the provider to administer blood-clot reducing drugs and manage the airway as necessary. Recently, providers have been required to respond to opiate overdoses. They must administer a drug to reverse the effects of the overdose.The provider will also provide cardiac and respiratory services to these patients as needed.
How Do I Become ACLS Certified?
Virtually all hospitals and emergency services require prospective providers to become ACLS certified through the American Heart Association, or AHA. While all certifications through the AHA require a hands-on skill test in person, the actual course may be taken with two different methods.
ACLS Certification Online
Those unable to take the courses at a local university or hospital may want to consider online certificate programs. If considering online certifications for your ACLS credentials, it would be wise to ensure the program verifies it is AHA Approved. If the course is not specifically AHA approved, it is unlikely to be accepted by healthcare organizations or hospitals. You are able to take the written test online, but be prepared for the in-person skill test.
In-Person ACLS Certification
Those with the time and ability to attend certification sessions have the option of taking the certification at a local hospital or community college. Classes can be found by searching for ACLS classes near me. As with online courses, ensure the course is AHA approved.
How Long Does the Certification Process Take?
Upon passing your course, you’ll receive a card from the AHA stating you are a provider. This is considered your ACLS certification. This card is also known as a credentials card. Hang on to this certification, as it is proof of your successful completion of the exams.
What Is An ACLS Pretest?
Those seeking an ACLS study guide or a way to test their readiness for the official exam may seek pretest options. Also known as an ACLS practice test, this study guide and pretest asks questions similar to those which will be on the official exam. ACLS pretest answers are provided after completion of the practice test. You can compare your answers to the official answers and determine your readiness. These pretests do not cover the physical skill exam, only the written exam.
Ongoing Education Requirements
Due to advances in emergency medicine, ACLS providers will need to stay up-to-date on their knowledge base. The certifications are good for two years from the date of certification. At the end of the expiration month, the card is no longer considered valid. ACLS Recertification, as with the initial certification, can be taken online or in person. As with the initial certification, make sure your recertification is performed with an AHA Approved course.
During your re-certification, you’ll learn new skills as well as new advances that have occurred in the past two years. If the AHA has changed any guidelines, these will be covered as well. You will take another written exam and physical skills test to ensure you have the ability to perform the job. If using a pretest or study guide for your re-certification, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the newest version.
Future Outlook For ACLS Professionals
Nurses, doctors, nurse practitioners, and emergency medical technicians will greatly benefit from receiving their ACLS certification. Becoming an ACLS provider allows for the ability to perform more tasks and possibly receive promotions. While there are no guarantees, the ability to perform additional tasks may create some job security.
Medical provider care is an ongoing necessity. This means that there will be more providers of advanced life support needed at hospitals and ambulatory service providers. If you’ve considered a career in advanced life support, consider taking an ACLS course online or at a local hospital. You’ll learn new skills, have the potential to earn more money, and possibly earn a promotion as well.