When it comes to certification courses, aspiring healthcare professionals may be unsure of exactly which courses they need to take. The differences between certifications like ACLS, PALS, and BLS can become a bit murky at times, especially for those who are new to the healthcare field. Let’s break down these three common certifications, how they’re different, and why each of them is important in its own right.
Basic Life Support (BLS)
The purpose of Basic Life Support, or BLS, is to save the life of someone who is experiencing cardiac arrest. BLS provides healthcare workers with a foundational knowledge of providing CPR and using an Automatic External Defibrillator, or AED. Because BLS is, as the title suggests, basic knowledge, this course is commonly completed by those outside the healthcare profession. The skills covered in a BLS course can be used in everyday situations outside of a hospital by teachers, babysitters, or other individuals not in the healthcare field.
However, individuals who are not healthcare workers who want to obtain a basic certification have a number of other options available as well. Which certification they receive primarily depends on which levels of CPR they need to know how to perform. There are three levels of CPR — infant, child, and adult — because the chest compressions performed on an adult would not be suitable for an infant or a child. There are courses available that teach all three types of CPR and those that only teach the adult method.
In order to determine which types of CPR you’ll need to know, consider the kinds of people you usually encounter at your job. If they’re primarily adults, adult CPR is probably enough. Additionally, the CPR courses required by healthcare professionals are more in-depth than those needed for the average person. These types of courses usually explicitly state that they are of the correct level for healthcare providers.
Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
Advanced Cardiac Life Support, or ACLS, is a little more in-depth than BLS. This course is specifically designed for healthcare workers and is not typically taken by those outside of this industry. Unlike Basic Life Support courses, you must have background healthcare knowledge in order to take an ACLS certification course. If you don’t have a lot of knowledge about CPR and how to treat a patient who is in cardiac arrest, you may want to take a BLS course prior to obtaining certification for Advanced Cardiac Life Support. However, it is likely that most healthcare providers will already know the basics and will be able to dive right into ACLS. If you’re feeling a little rusty on your BLS knowledge, don’t worry — most ACLS courses begin with a review of some of the material covered in BLS.
Being able to read and understand ECG results is one of the skills covered in ACLS that isn’t in the BLS certification course. ECG interpretation is an important skill for both doctors and nurses to perfect because it allows them to obtain important information about a patient’s heart rate. This information, when combined with information about the patient and other possible symptoms, can help to diagnose a variety of heart problems, including heart attacks.
Another important skill set covered in ACLS but not BLS is pharmaceutical knowledge. ACLS certification courses teach healthcare professionals about different types of prescription drugs, what they’re commonly used for, and when it’s appropriate to administer them in a medical emergency. This allows healthcare professionals to react quickly in time-sensitive situations to ensure that their patient remains stable. Finally, while both ACLS and BLS teach students how to use an Automatic External Defibrillator, ACLS also covers tools like IV medications, intubation materials, and emergency scenario algorithms.
Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)
As mentioned earlier, children and infants require very different cardiac care from adults — so much so that they require an entirely different form of CPR in an emergency. The Pediatric Advanced Life Support course, or PALS, provides healthcare workers with the knowledge of how to care for children and infants who are experiencing a medical emergency. The PALS course covers topics like pediatric assessment and resuscitation that aren’t covered in either the BLS or the ACLS courses. Respiratory emergencies are also an essential part of this course.
It is also important to note that the course you take for your first BLS, ACLS, or PALS certification will likely be more in-depth than the course you need to take for recertification. This is because when you’re getting recertified, you already have the basic knowledge and skill sets required and just need to review them. All of these courses have exams that you must pass in order to receive certification to ensure that the lifesaving skills you’ve learned are well-ingrained.
One disadvantage to many of these certification courses is that they are only offered at certain times of the year in specific locations. It can be challenging for healthcare professionals to find a course that’s convenient for them, especially when they have such busy work schedules. The good news is that online certification courses are available through ProMed Certifications. All of the materials for these courses meet AHA and ILCOR guidelines. What’s more, the courses are compatible with mobile devices and have a 100% money-back guarantee.
ProMed Certifications allows healthcare professionals to obtain certification or recertification when it’s convenient for them because they are available anywhere, anytime. Additionally, the exams offered as part of these courses have no time limit and students can take the exams an unlimited number of times. (The passing score for this exam is 80%, or 40 out of 50 questions correct.) ProMed Certifications also automatically saves your progress in a course so that you can stop and start training as needed. Plus, your exam will be graded instantly, meaning that you won’t have to wait for results. Overall, the process of obtaining BLS, ACLS, or PALS certification or recertification is easier and more convenient than ever before.
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