ACLS is a standardized system of very important life saving techniques used by healthcare professionals. In order to ensure the highest possible standards of care, ACLS training is an intensive process followed up with regular ACLS recertification to ensure that caregivers maintain the life saving skills they need.
Advanced Cardiovascular Life Saving (ACLS) is a unified term that covers the body of knowledge required for healthcare professionals to respond in a timely and productive manner to patients experiencing urgent, life-threatening cardiovascular conditions. ACLS includes proficiency in a number of lifesaving techniques, including CPR, airway intervention, IV administration, and EKQ interpretation. Besides the basic skills involved in administering ACLS treatments, the real key to ACLS are the “algorithms,” flowchart-like decision-making steps that ensure caregivers interpret symptoms correctly and apply the right treatments properly.
ACLS Vs. CPR
ACLS is a much more extensive body of knowledge than CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). As noted above, CPR is just one of several procedures that may be involved in administering ACLS. Because it involves critical decision-making in life-or-death situations, ACLS is appropriate for primary healthcare providers, especially those operating in a hospital environment. The standards for ACLS certification are maintained at the highest levels by the American Heart Association. (The Internation Liaison Committe on Resuscitation also coordinates ACLS standards globally.) ACLS procedures are rigorously reviewed every five years and updated procedures are released to certification and re-certification programs on a regular basis.
Who Needs To Maintain ACLS Certification
Because ACLS is a critical procedure used almost exclusively by primary providers, ACLS certification is restricted to professionals with a mastery of all the different techniques involved. These include general practitioners, surgeons, and other accredited medical doctors. Pharmacists, dentists, PAs, and some nurses and EMTs may also achieve ACLS certification. The original certification involves fairly rigorous classroom work with high standards to ensure that certified healthcare professionals master the ACLS algorithms. Thus, while ACLS procedures are fairly widespread among professionals working exclusively in the field of healthcare, they are not commonly taught or certified to non-healthcare workers. (This is in contrast to CPR training, which is often administered to employees working in any potentially-dangerous environment.)
The Recertification Process
In contrast to initial certification, ACLS recertification is a less intensive educational undertaking. Besides classroom courses, recertification can be achieved through online courses. These are offered by several different third-party providers, although all recertification courses use the same instructional materials and standards provided by the AHA. Enrolling in an online recertification program typically costs between one and two hundred dollars, and successful certification can usually be confirmed within 24 hours. How often practitioners need to re-certify can vary from institution to institution, but most hospitals and other employers require it every two years.
Since ACLS skills have to be employed with a high degree of accuracy with minimal advanced notice, it makes sense to keep recertification on a fairly fast schedule. This ensures that standards remain high for these most vital procedures and that all caregivers stay up-to-date with the state of the art in critical medicine.