Advanced Cardiac Life Support or ACLS, is a specialized set of protocols created for medical professionals to use with patients who are experiencing serious cardiac-related emergencies. ACLS expands upon the techniques of basic life support—the basic training for CPR certification—and introduces more advanced skills such as defibrillation, IV use, intubation, and ECG analysis. Many types of healthcare personnel must be qualified to handle major emergencies involving heart arrhythmias and cardiac arrest, especially those working in the field of emergency medicine. ACLS certification courses train professionals to augment their existing CPR knowledge and employ these more advanced methods.
The most important requirement is that you must already be a trained medical professional with a working knowledge of CPR. Organizations who offer certification courses expect ACLS trainees to already have experience in the healthcare field and a vast amount of medical knowledge. This means that ACLS is not for students who are just entering the field of medicine, but for trained personnel such as EMTs, nurses, physicians, and paramedics. These professionals are expected to be ACLS certified, and are the ones who will use ACLS protocols on a routine basis.
ACLS certification courses prepare a healthcare worker to assess emergency situations and give initial care while using ACLS protocol. Those certified in ACLS are trained to identify acute coronary syndromes and ischemic chest pain, recognize the signs of stroke, manage cardiac arrest, use ACLS algorithms, participate in organized resuscitation teamwork, and provide initial treatment for cardiac-related clinical situations.
Various institutions offer ACLS certification courses, both online and offline at local training centers. These courses are designed to refresh one’s knowledge of basic CPR skills, test their ability to perform alone and with a team, and introduce new material and more advanced medical equipment that is used in ACLS. After completing a certification program, the medical worker will obtain an ACLS certification card to display and show to potential employers.
Certification in ACLS expires within two years of passing your final exam. Recertification is necessary every two years because ACLS criteria and guidelines change very often, and it is crucial for healthcare workers to be up to date with the latest protocol. Because advanced cardiac life support is a very hands-on approach, biennial certification assures that certified professionals are familiar with the material and have in-depth technical experience using their ACLS skillset in various clinical scenarios.