i just finished up PALS today, as a matter of fact... took ACLS 1 year ago, and i also agree with others that PALS was much easier than ACLS. as already mentioned... LISTEN, take notes if it helps you, study the notes and any handouts they might give you during the lecture phase - they gave us some 'cheat sheets' - that basically consisted of tables of the various ages of pediatric vital norms, different rhythyms and how to treat them, etc. i took notes b/c it was made fairly obvious to us that 'lecture holds the key.' i spent way too much time worrying about reading the rhythyms and there wasn't one strip to read on the test! unlike ACLS, where we did have to read strips on the exam.
the test was sooooooo much easier than anticipated. of course a non-medical person would probably have quite a bit of difficulty passing the test, but if you have a strong, general nursing education, i truly believe the test primarily consisted of 'nursing common sense' answer selections. i was able to answer 98% of the questions without hesitation and got 100 on the test - and i'm not one to ace medical/nursing exams with 100's frequently.
and by the way.... i didn't read one page of the book - although i usually do read quite a bit of the text to prepare for exams, they stressed paying attention & listening as everything we needed to know would be covered in lecture - and they were right! we had a blast in our PALS class - there were about 11 ER nurses and a couple more from different areas. the instructors were definitely there to make it a fun learning experience and helped us tremendously. leading the codes during our mock scenarios, and observing and assisting others leading the codes was very helpful too.
our questions today were SCENARIO, SCENARIO, SCENARIO.... "8 yr old arrives in ED, unresponsive, BP 55/30, R 10, HR 60, mom reveals that pt. has been vomiting for 2 days................" and so on and so forth. sometimes there are a couple of answers that are correct, but you have to pick the one of utmost priority - so you're assessing all of these different physical symptoms of the pt., and then decide (with the answers) what the 'most right thing' to do would be at that moment. some of the answers are just flat out wrong of course, but others might have a couple of right interventions, but that's where choosing the 'most right thing' comes in. i did review some of the scenarios in the book - the lecture notes sufficed for me, but it can't hurt to review some case scenarios from the book.
i'm not sure how many different tests they use, but my test had no dosage calculations, no strips to read....... and although it might sound tricky, there were no direct questions, such as..... 'The first line of drugs to give to a patient in Asystole is.....' there were a couple of questions about 'shock' scenarios - in one of them they stated the pt. was in V Fib, blah, blah, blah, ........ and how will you address the V Fib? well, of course the answer is Defib. once again.... described to you in a lengthy scenario.
another one, pt. is hypovolemic, blah, blah, blah........ and the answer is that you want to immediately administer fluids - 20ml/kg over 20 min...............
my point is that i thought the questions were okay, but even better, once you see all of the answers to choose from, the right one is fairly obvious. some of our questions were a paragraph, describing tons of details about a patient's condition, but just look for key events going on with the patient, that match up to the obvious treatment remedy in the answer selection.
sorry so long, but it's still fresh in my mind, since i just finished up the course today :wink2: hope this helps you some. RELAX - it won't be half as hard as you're anticipating!