They Are Both Excellent Courses, How Do I Choose?

One of the most common questions we get at Project Heartbeat is, “How do I decide between Project Heartbeat’s American Heart Association in-person ACLS or Project Heartbeat’s American Heart Association Online ACLS course?”  While they are both great courses, one may be more suitable to your needs.  Here are some items to consider:

1. How Busy Are You?  

Busy medics, nurses and doctors looking to revert their Advanced Cardiac Life Support may find that the online course suits their schedule.  This course is recommended for experienced medics, nurses and doctors only.  It’s typically several hours in length and requires a good internet connection, an up-to-date computer operating system and some aptitude with computer based games and simulation. After the “classroom” portion is completed you will need to come in for the skills portion of the class, which typically lasts 1-1.5 hours and is a private session with one of our excellent instructors.

Because the “classroom” portion is done online, it can be done after the kids go to bed for instance.  Beware though, Online Advanced Cardiac Life Support is actually quite challenging and retention of content is probably going to be (quite) low if your squeezing it in at the end of an exhausting day!

Also note we get quite a few calls from bleary-eyed students saying they’ve tried for hours to complete the online ACLS course without success.   While an in-person ACLS course with one of our excellent instructors takes a full day, it may actually end up being more efficient in the end when you take into account the factors above.

2. Do You Prefer People to Pixels?

I may be a bit old fashioned, but I prefer interacting with people, especially our amazing ACLS instructors.  I also tend to learn better when I can ask questions and participate in break-out sessions and small group activities.  I find it challenging to focus on a screen for more than ~30 minutes, while an engaging class can hold my attention all day.  If you find you are like me, Project Heartbeat’s in-person Advanced Life Support Course is probably the best choice.

There is a lot of research being done on hybrid learning and e-learning right now, much of it yielding positive results.  In general though, in medicine and nursing, the, “see one-do one-teach one” model still reigns.  Skills learned in ACLS or PALS need to be hard-wired, and this takes multiple repeat practices—not unlike what you’ll experience over several break-out sessions in an ACLS course with Project Heartbeat.

If you find that you are a learner that needs to, hold and interact with ACLS equipment (e.g., defibrillators, code meds) in order to become familiar with their use, in-person ACLS is probably the right choice.

3. Do You Like Video Games or Group Discussion?

For some, a video game interface is exciting and novel.  If you like video games and online simulations, then Project Heartbeat’s American Heart Association Online ACLS is for you.  For others, like an ED RN that I work with, not so much.  She decided that the last thing she wanted to do after pulling her kids off of their video games and putting them to bed was play her own. She also missed the ability to actively ask questions of the instructor and found that she didn’t retain as much as she hoped when she came in for her skills check.


Whatever you decide, Project Heartbeat can you help you take either American Heart Association in-person ACLS or Project Heartbeat’s American Heart Association Online ACLS.  Please check out our course calender to find classes near you.