The ACLS certification course can be taken both in-person and online. An in-person course requires students to meet in a physical classroom with an instructor. The online course allows students to study the course material and take the final exam anywhere, as long as they have an internet connection.
Taking an in-person course used to be the only option. However, many students are now opting to take the online ACLS certification instead. Read on to learn what the online certification involves so you can decide whether it is right for you and your lifestyle.
What Is the ACLS Certification?
The ACLS certification is an advanced training course teaching essential life-saving skills. These skills can help save a person’s life both in and out of a hospital setting.
ACLS stands for Advanced Cardiac Life Support and is the more advanced version of Basic Life Support (BLS) training.
Can I Take the ACLS Certification Online?
The ACLS certification is available both in-person and online. Many accredited providers offer this training course online. ACLS is widely available and easy to access by anyone who wants or needs to get certified.
Should I Take My ACLS Certification Exam Online?
Here are some of the primary concerns many students have when considering an online ACLS course:
- Will hospitals accept online certifications?
- Are online ACLS courses legitimate?
- Are only in-person exams accepted?
Online ACLS courses are legitimate. Hospitals widely accept online certifications, even if the course isn’t accredited directly by the American Heart Association (AHA). Other agencies or national institutions accredit some courses, and their certifications are accepted for the most part. It is always a good idea to check with your employer first to make sure they will accept certification from the provider you are considering.
How Does ACLS Differ From Other Life Support Techniques?
ACLS is one of many life support training programs. BLS, ATLS, and PALS are also available and are recommended for anyone who wants to improve their life-saving skills.
BLS stands for Basic Life Support and is the more basic form of ACLS. It teaches basic CPR, AED use, safety precautions, and other essential knowledge necessary to respond to life-threatening situations.
Anyone who wants to learn life-saving skills can receive this training, including non-medical professionals. However, BLS training is required by some professions (such as lifeguards).
ATLS stands for Advanced Trauma Life Support. This training prepares students to respond to severe trauma-related emergencies, such as limb-threatening scenarios. This can include victims who have been in an accident and suffered a serious injury, someone who may have cut themselves badly, etc..
PALS stands for Pediatric Advanced Life Support. This training teaches students how to respond to cardiopulmonary arrest in children and infants. While BLS and ACLS touch on child/infant CPR, the PALS certification expands greatly upon this knowledge.
Who Is ACLS Designed For?
The primary students required to get ACLS certified are medical professionals. This includes doctors, nurses, paramedics, firefighters, and EMTs. Therefore, the ACLS certification is designed for people with prior medical knowledge and expertise.
ACLS utilizes more advanced medical knowledge to better equip individuals to respond to cardiac arrest scenarios, especially within a hospital setting, where equipment like ECGs and IVs are readily available. This is in contrast to BLS, which is directed at anyone who wants to learn basic life-saving skills.
What Does the ACLS Certification Teach?
The ACLS certification is more in-depth than BLS, drastically building upon the student’s expertise.
ACLS training ensures that students have the knowledge and expertise to treat patients experiencing respiratory or cardiac arrest to help improve their odds of survival and successful recovery. This knowledge is especially useful within a hospital setting, where additional life-saving tools are available.
ACLS training includes:
- Basic Life Support (BLS) skills, such as CPR, AED use, and airway obstruction relief
- Recognition of cardiopulmonary arrest
- Recognition of peri-arrest conditions
- Care for post-cardiac arrest
- How to identify/treat strokes and acute coronary syndromes (ACS)
- Administration of medication during medical emergencies
- ECG reading
- Intravenous care
What Does the Online ACLS Training Course Involve?
Some prior medical training is required to take the ACLS certification course and exam. ACLS teaches advanced life-saving techniques. Therefore, a foundation of knowledge is required to make sure students are up to speed. Basic Life Support is the most common (and one of the easiest) training programs to take before ACLS.
Most online ACLS training courses provide study materials so that students can absorb the necessary information in an organized and consistent manner. These study materials can include a case study library, practice questions, and other resources to empower both new students and those who are recertifying and need a refresher. Some courses also mail a physical copy of the full ACLS manual, and other resources could be available for purchase if the student wants to expand their knowledge further.
Online courses are expected to have a “self-study” format. Therefore, active instructors are typically not provided. The course provider may offer a support email for questions. However, the student is expected to utilize the study materials available to learn the information necessary to pass the exam.
Once students feel ready to take the exam, the online exam usually involves a series of multiple-choice questions that test the information from the study material. There is no time limit, and a score of at least 84% is required to pass the exam and receive an ACLS certification.
After passing the exam, students will receive their ACLS provider card (usually by email) to confirm successful completion.
How Can I Prepare For the ACLS Certification?
Here are some tips to prepare yourself for the certification:
Case studies are powerful tools for learning how these principles work in real-life scenarios. Look up ACLS case studies to further your understanding of how you may use what you’ve learned in the field.
ACLS teaches which medications are best for treating cardiac arrest and the correct dosages. Make sure to secure your knowledge on this section before taking the exam.
ACLS also teaches algorithms for responding to and managing different emergencies, such as:
- Adult bradycardia
- Suspected stroke
- Cardiac arrest
- Post-cardiac arrest care
- Acute coronary syndromes (ACS)
These algorithms help responders understand the most effective sequence of steps to take. It is vital to learn and memorize these algorithms before taking the exam.
Practice exams are widely available online to give students an idea of what the official exam will likely include and where their current knowledge might be lacking. If you’re consistently getting certain questions incorrect, make sure to invest extra time into studying those topics.
Where Can I Take an Online ACLS Certification?
Many providers offer an online ACLS certification course. When choosing a provider, it is recommended to find one that is accredited and reliable.
The American Medical Resource Institute (AMRI) offers a comprehensive online ACLS certification. They are nationally accredited, you are guaranteed acceptance or your money back, and they have certified over one million professionals so far.
How Long Is an Online ACLS Certification Valid For?
In-person and online ACLS certifications are valid for two years. After two years, the student must recertify. Recertification can be done online.
What Happens if I Fail the Examination?
If you happen to fail the examination, the test resets immediately to offer you another attempt.
You will also get to view which questions you answered incorrectly. This allows students to further study the information they don’t fully understand and retake the exam.
Should I Take My ACLS Certification Exam Online?
If you are brand new to ACLS and you feel like you will need a lot of support to learn these skills, an in-person training course can provide an instructor with a more hands-on learning experience.
However, if you’re comfortable studying material on your own and are confident in your medical knowledge so far, then an online course might suit you better. You can take it from the comfort of your home and at your own pace.
If you are recertifying, it is only recommended that you take an in-person course if you are way behind the current best practices and feel that you need hands-on training.
However, the online recertification process is more streamlined than an in-person certification. In most cases, students will probably prefer to recertify online. Online certifications can be completed much faster and more conveniently.
How To Get More Information
This article should have given you everything you need to know about online ACLS certification and decide whether an online ACLS certification is right for you.
However, if you need more information, check out this frequently asked questions page and be sure to check out the AHA’s page on the ACLS certification.
Before choosing a provider, make sure your employer will accept their certification. Online ACLS certifications have grown in popularity over the years (along with other online medical certifications). Many medical professionals are comfortable with self-study programs and enjoy the convenience of taking training programs at their own pace.
Online providers are legitimate training and certification resources for students who want a convenient and time-efficient option to complete their required certifications.