This is a sponsored post with the ACLS Certification Institute. All opinions are my own.

As a new nurse, ACLS certification might be one of your goals. This guide will introduce you to the certification and prepare you for the next steps.

ACLS Certification - New Nurses Guide

*If you are looking for an American Heart Association (AHA) ACLS Certification, which includes a hands-on, practical skills assessment – an ACLS online exam cannot provide this. If you are required to have an AHA ACLS Certification, you will unfortunately not be able to utilize a 100% online ACLS Certification course. However, if you need ACLS certificialtion but don’t have to have AHA ACLS, or you use it for CEUs then online courses work fine.

What is ACLS Certification?

First, let’s start at the very beginning (a very nice place to start).

ACLS stands for Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support and it is used for cardiovascular emergencies.

The certification is what you will earn after you take a course that permits you the ability to practice ACLS in emergency situations. Providers that have this certification can go beyond Basic Life Support (BLS).

If you work in an ED or ICU, this certification is most likely a requirement. You may not be required to have this to land the job, but will probably need to obtain the certification within a certain amount of time. It does look great if you apply and already have it, but it’s not at all a must-have for new grads to attempt to complete between graduation and that first job.

If you’re on a nursing floor, however, you won’t necessarily need this. You will definitely need BLS but may not need ACLS. Basically, if you call a code – only ACLS certified nurses are able to administer medications without a physician order. Many facilities have protocols in which ICU and/or ED nurses respond to codes because of their ACLS capabilities and knowledge of caring for the unstable patient.

ACLS is basically an algorithm one follows during the emergency. The catch is that it’s tough to walk through an algorithm while someone is literally dying right before your eyes.  Practice and being exposed to these situations frequently helps alleviate some code blue jitters.

I explain ACLS in detail on my Cardiac Nurse Crash Course.

There are 4 things we do with ACLS:

  1. Chest Compressions
  2. Drugs
  3. Shock/defibrillate/cardiovert
  4. Treat the underlying cause

Again, if you want to work in emergency or critical care situations, an ACLS certification will make you hireable and an active member of the team, able to jump in and help save lives.

How To Get ACLS Certified

If you are planning to work in emergency and critical care units, becoming ACLS certified will make you a more valuable team member. You will be able to literally help save lives.

So how do you get certified?

Chances are if you are trying to become ACLS certified, you are probably already BLS (basic life support) certified. If that is true, there will only be a few additional courses you’ll need to take and then pass the exam.

Your hospital or organization may provide this course to you, but you can also get it on your own.

Certification Requirements

To be certified, you have to take the courses. These usually last about two days and are pretty extensive. (I’ve been in a class with physicians who failed the exam at the end before!) Then you have to pass the exam. The test is both written and practical. (I’ve been in a class with physicians who failed the exam at the end before!)

This certification only lasts 2 years before you have to renew it again. The renewal course is much shorter than the original certification – so don’t let yours expire!

Where to Take ACLS Certification Courses and Exams

Ask your local hospital if they offer courses at a discount or if they will pay for any part of it. The American Heart Association also offers local courses and exams.

Some employers still require their employees to obtain an American Heart Association (AHA) ACLS Certification, which includes a hands-on, practical skills assessment – something ACLS online exams simply cannot provide. As a result, if you are required to have an AHA ACLS Certification, you will unfortunately not be able to utilize a 100% online ACLS Certification course. However, if you need ACLS certificialtion but don’t have to have AHA ACLS, or you use it for CEUs then online courses work fine.

If you are currently working full-time, consider finding an ACLS Certification course online. The best place for this is the ACLS Certification Institute. They are a highly respected organization and offer the flexibility of online courses.

You can take the course and the exams at home during your time off. It’s the best and most convenient way to become certified.

How much is ACLS Certification?

This depends on where you take the courses. Your hospital might offer to pay for some or all of the course fees.

If you choose to get certified by the ACLS Certification Institute, the course and exam are only $275 total. That’s a fantastically low price for something that could impact your career for years to come.

Recertification is only $175, which is a wonderfully low price. And don’t forget to check with your employer to see if they’ll cover the fee! Many hospitals have a professional development budget for their nursing staff, make sure you utilize if they do.

ACLS Pre-Test

If you are planning on getting certified, I highly suggest you find a pre-test and take it. See what you know already and what you don’t. Then, you can focus your studies on what you don’t already know.

You can find a few different pre-tests online and most of them are free of charge.

What is the difference between BLS and ACLS?

BLS stands for basic life support. When you are certified in basic life support you know CPR and how to use an AED (automatic external defibrillator), as well as how to help a choking victim.

But ACLS goes beyond that. It is extremely thorough. You’ll learn about intubation and IV medications, resuscitation procedures, and airway management.

It’s more complex and in-depth than BLS.

What is PALS?

PALS stands for Pediatric Advanced Life Support. This is another very strong certification you can add to your resume to make you more valuable to the team if you plan to work on the pediatric side of the hospital world.

This is very similar to ACLS except a child’s body is different and there are different dangers to consider.

Just like BLS and ACLS, this certification only lasts two years.

ACLS Certification: A Life-Saving Career Investment

Now that you know what ACLS certification is and how to become certified, go find a course. Any of these certifications listed above will enhance your skill sets as a nurse and give you confidence in your role. You will be able to know exactly what to do and have the certification that allows you to jump in and do it.

Think about these certifications as valuable investments into your career. But not just financial, but intelligent and logical ones too. You want to be able to help your patients as much as you can, and these certifications will empower you to do exactly that.

Save on ACLS Certification

As I already mentioned, if you choose to get certified by the ACLS Certification InstituteACLS Certification Institute, the course and exam are only $275 total! Right now FreshRN readers can save 20% off by using promo code FRESHRN20. Get your ACLS Certification Today!

Remember, if you need an American Heart Association (AHA) ACLS Certification, which includes a hands-on, practical skills assessment – an ACLS online exam cannot provide this. As a result, if you are required to have an AHA ACLS Certification, you will unfortunately not be able to utilize a 100% online ACLS Certification course. However, if you need ACLS certificialtion but don’t have to have AHA ACLS, or you use it for CEUs then online courses work fine.

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