ACLS and/or EKG classes in MN?

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    I am starting nursing school in the fall. It's an accelerated program and, in an attempt to get ahead of the game, I was thinking about tackling my ACLS certification before classes start. I know ACLS certification really tough to get, especially for someone with a very limited medical background (I've only completed EMT training) but I thought I would give it a shot, anyway. I figure the worst that can happen is I fail, but I'll still learn something.

    Here are my questions; does anyone know of specific locations/organizations that offer ACLS certification? The Red Cross does not and, although I have heard the American Heart Association does, I have not been able to find dates online. The only thing I found was a class at HCMC but that conflicts with my schedule.

    Also, I have heard that it's really helpful to take EKG class before doing the ACLS. Has anyone done that? If so, where specifically did you go? I can't find EKG classes anywhere online. I've checked community colleges, hospitals, and non-profits but I keep hitting dead ends.

    Thanks!
  2. 8 Comments so far...

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    Check out http://www.tchpeducation.com/ it's where I took my rhythm class
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    The Minneapolis VA Medical Center offers classes that are open to the public. It's not advertised, but they do have them there. There is a single registrar for these classes so if you decide to go there, you need will need to call the hospital operator and ask for him. I am not 100% sure but they may offer an EKG class as well -- as the previous post stated, TCHP (the Twin Cities Health Professionals Consortium) is good. I have attended many classes through them, although not that one because by the time I came into the system I work in I was already proficient in reading EKGs.

    Being able to interpret EKGs is an absolute must for getting through ACLS successfully. You can't treat a cardiac rhythm disturbance if you can't read the rhythm. There are also a lot of drugs you need to know and advanced assessment skills that you need to have. I think it is unlikely as a nursing student that you are ready for ACLS -- it is well beyond what you need to know to pass the NCLEX. When you finish school, if ACLS is required for your job, your employer will probably put you through it at their cost. I'm not sure I would really worry about ACLS just yet if I were in your shoes -- speaking as an experienced critical care RN with 10 years experience (just my two cents.)
    Redriot and HM2VikingRN like this.
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    As a nursing student graduating in 5 days, please do not even attempt ACLS yet. It won't do anything for you right now and you won't understand most of it. Many of the ACLS classes I found didn't even want you to take it unless you passed boards.

    If you still feel the need to take it: Most community colleges offer ACLS in their community education classes, most hospitals offer them, check american red cross, etc.
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    Really you shouldn't waste your time or money. As a new grad in an ACLS class- you'll just be wasting the time of others in the class as well. It's intense enough when you're prepared for it. Worry about boards and getting a job and some experience first.
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    Casi, thank you so much. That is EXACTLY what I was looking for.

    I am a little surprised at some of the other responses. In all fairness, I was not asking for advice on whether or not I should take the class. I was only asking where others took it.

    I know it will be tough and I know I will probably be in over my head, but I am going to prepare as best I can and I am still planning on giving it a shot. As I said before, the worst case scenario is that I don’t pass. Big deal, I’ll still learn something. When did that equate to wasting time? Right now I have the time, interest, and motivation to give it my all and, with the encouragement of my current instructors, that’s still what I intend to do.

    AprilRNurse, if you intend to take EKG or ACLS classes in the near future please let me know and I will GLADLY not register for the same class as you. I would sure hate to waste your time.
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    Obviously, your decision is your own as to whether or not you will take it, and best wishes to you with whatever you decide to do. Just another piece of info though -- someone who passes ACLS is considered an ACLS PROVIDER -- this means that you know the clinical protocols on how to respond, assess and act in the event of a cardiac arrest, including advanced interventions. This is not simply a certification class that requires a knowledge base and some practice hours, like some of the ANCC certifications or even the CCRN. A lot of the info presented is not going to be useful to you because you don't have a license yet and aren't going to be able to push drugs, assess patients, etc. even though you technically have the certification. There is a big push these days in ACLS to not act beyond the your scope of practice; e.g. you should not be intubating patients if you don't have additional licensure and skills (MD, CRNA.)

    By the time you get into an area that requires ACLS certification, your certification is going to be a year old, probably a little bit rusty, and you are going to have to re-cert in a year (ACLS is only good for two years.) In addition, a lot of hospital jobs and nearly all jobs out in the community don't require that you read monitors, and therefore there is no need for ACLS (says your employer). I would make sure that you want to work in an acute care, monitored area before you attempt it.

    The TCHP class (on EKGs) I would highly recommend though. My nursing program had a two hour lecture on how to read monitors that was a joke. I would say if you want more in-depth knowledge on that subject, it is a great class.
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    I'll go with the others and say hold off on taking ACLS until you've at least graduated nursing school. As a new grad I'm hoping to get into an ACLS class, but I've worked as an aide and a monitor tech on a cardiac floor so I'm comfortable reading cardiac rhythms and I am somewhat familiar with cardiac medications.

    I took the ECG class through TCHP and it gives you a pretty good basic rhythm reading skills. There are a lot of continuing ed classes out there for health care workers that you might want to look into. One class I would definately suggest if you haven't taken it is nursing assistant. That will give you a head start on basic nursing care and patient interactions.
    HM2VikingRN likes this.
  10. 0
    Hi MauriceRC

    I, too, am looking for and ACLS class in the area. I am also in an accelerated BSN program graduating this winter. Within my program I have already gone through critical care, theory and full simulation, lead by a woman who basically writes the ACLS book (if you will, but she kinda does). The class was amazing and she taught the ACLS program, condensed and appropriate for our level. Other classmates have gone to become certified, mainly because they work as EMTs or somewhere that it benefitted them immediately.

    Anyway, I agree partly with the other posts. There is no way I could have started an ACLS program before school...it would have been so far over my head as I hadn't learned even the basics of pharm, protocols, pathophysiology, communication, push rates, injections, reading EKGs, ect...I'm looking into it now, because I feel I have the foundation, the basics, of the course under my belt and I'd like to have that edge on my resume when I graduate soon. Best of luck to you! As nurses, or soon to be nurses, we have to gather the information that is present and make the best decision. I'll be checking out the local classes...perhaps I'll see you there!


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