ACLS stands for Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support and is an instructional course designed to give you the information and confidence you need to save the life of someone in cardiac arrest. If you’ve already received training in Basic Life Support and are wondering why you might need anything more than your BLS certification, we’re here to help you see what the difference is between these two certifications and why you should consider taking an ACLS certification course.

What Is ACLS Certification?

This instructional course for Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support includes teacher-led lectures, videos and discussion time as well as hands-on practice of a variety of life-threatening algorithms on a mannequin. The entire class is far more advanced than a BLS course is and includes a focus on several areas that are not covered at all during BLS.

During the class, which typically takes two full days, you’ll receive advanced training following several algorithms. Algorithms give you a basic plan to follow based on the signs and symptoms that your patient is showing. A few of the algorithms you learn will include:

    • Cardiac Arrest
    • Acute Coronary Syndrome
    • Tachycardia
    • Bradycardia
    • Respiratory Arrest
    • Suspected Stroke

Throughout the experience, you’ll be focusing on EKG interpretation for a variety of heart rhythms as well as on the medications needed for each interpretation. You’ll learn when to use such drugs as atropine, epinephrine and amiodarone. Most importantly, through constant scenarios, you’ll feel more comfortable understanding what is happening with your patient and will feel confident to act quickly.

ACLS also teaches you how to use several other tools in addition to the automated external defibrillator that was covered in BLS training. You will work with EKG machines, intubation and respiratory support.

Who Needs to Be Certified?

Although BLS is for anyone wanting to know how to save lives using basic skills, such as chest compression, ACLS certification is specifically prepared for those who already have medical knowledge. The terminology and skills that you hear in this class will build on what you already know as a nurse.

This course is usually used by doctors, registered nurses, anesthesiologists, paramedics, dentists and other advanced practitioners. You may be required to take this course if you work on a certain floor of your hospital or if you work as a charge nurse and may be needed to run codes on your floor until a doctor arrives.

What Are the Benefits of ACLS Certification?

If you’re thinking there’s no way you would ever need to know this much information, you may be surprised at some of the situations you’ll come across in the future while at work. Codes may not happen frequently, but they’re typically unexpected. Knowing how to read EKGs and being able to lead your team quickly through the treatment algorithm can infuse you with confidence that you’re prepared to handle any cardiovascular emergency that heads your way. Plus, the knowledge about EKGs, respiratory management and cardiovascular support medications can build your medical knowledge in general. Finally, every year you take ACLS certification or renewal classes, you’ll accrue continuing education hours that will help when it comes time to renew your nursing license.

ACLS instruction builds on what you’ve already learned through BLS and gives you a great skills set for wherever you may work. While this is a vital course for nurses working in critical care or emergency areas of the hospital as well as for charge nurses who may occasionally be in charge of a code, ACLS training is also a smart option for nurses who want to feel more comfortable with quickly seeing and addressing life-altering problems with their patients.

While these courses cover incredibly important topics, the classes are still quite fun with plenty of communication within your group. When you choose the ACLS Certification Course for initial certification or renewal through Project Heartbeat, you can rest assured you’ll be learning the most advanced life support techniques from the new 2015 guidelines of the American Heart Association. With campuses in Oakland and Sacramento, you have more opportunities to set a time and place that fits your schedule. Contact us today to learn more about our courses or to sign up for our next class time.