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New members of the medical field are faced with a daunting number of certifications, many of which are requirements for employment. Life support certifications in particular train participants in methods to keep patients alive, increasing the survivability of a cardiac emergency. These range from the Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) courses most doctors and nurses take, to the Basic Life Support (BLS) training that anyone, from teachers to security guards and public transit workers, can benefit from.


In few other professions does knowing what to do in the moment signifies the difference between life and death. Whether you are working as a nurse at a pediatrics clinic or in the ER, life support training is crucial in ensuring that you can be ready, not if, but when the emergency strikes.

The training is even important if you are considering opening your own practice. The medical field is constantly advancing and staying up to date with your certification should be one of your top priorities. The following are some advantages you can expect as a healthcare professional when you get certified in ACLS or PALS.

What Options Are There?

Before choosing the right training for your profession, it can be helpful to understand the options available. Most life support certification training programs go well beyond basic first aid.


CPR training is commonly given at schools and is the basis of any life support training. Hospital workers and flight attendants are typically also trained to use an Automated External Defibrillator, or AED, a device that uses electrical shock to reestablish a normal heart rate in pulseless patients.


BLS is commonly required for first responders and includes CPR and AED training along with assistance for both conscious and unconscious choking victims. The training may also equip you to stabilize fractures and control bleeding.


Advanced Cardiac Life Support, or ACLS, goes even deeper, exploring the h's and t's of Pulseless Electrical Activity. In short, the different reasons a patient might be unresponsive or without a pulse, as well as how to treat each case. PALS, or Pediatric Advanced Life Support, provides the same training as it applies to treating children. 


Look for a reputable training organization that follows the guidelines of the American Heart Association (AHA) or the American Red Cross. This means that any certification issued by these organizations will be accepted by the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR), which sets the standards for life support training.


Most programs are available in person and online, both with their own benefits. Taking a course in person will give you plenty of hands-on experience, while an online course is useful for those with busy schedules and medical professionals who practice in areas where certification programs are not available. 

Be Prepared

As a medical professional, it’s often your job to respond to emergencies. Still, it can be difficult to feel prepared for so crucial a job at a moment’s notice. Furthermore, it is possible that your life support training will come most in handy when you are not on the clock. 50% of deaths occur outside of the hospital, and it’s possible that you’ll have to respond to provide medical care on your daily commute, at the local grocery store, or even while on vacation. The goal of these certifications is to give you the knowledge, experience and confidence to respond to cardiac and respiratory crises and save lives. 

Go in Depth

BLS, and especially ACLS and PALS, teach you both the how and the why of responding to a cardiac emergency. This deeper knowledge means you’ll be better able to identify the problems quickly and treat them properly. Life support courses typically go over the AHA chain of survival, from first intervention to post-resuscitation care, thus helping you to care for your patient every step of the way. All three of the major life support certifications remain valid for two years, and with each renewal you’ll have the chance to familiarize yourself with new advancements in life support techniques.

Get Ahead

Even outside of the medical field, being certified in life support can give you a leg up. Potential employers are likely to consider you before other candidates, especially if you are seeking a position in a relevant field. As a medical professional, being up to date on your training will also help you get hired quickly to the best entry-level positions. But, most importantly, completing life support training will help you better address your patient’s conditions and, ultimately, save lives!

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