Calling all ACLS nurses! HELP!!!

Nurses General Nursing


I'm getting ready to take the mandatory ACLS classes where I work. It is required by all nurses hospital wide. I've taken PALS in 1995, but never had to use it, so let it expire. The ACLS book I have been given to study reads like a foreign language to me, so wonder if you ACLS nurses can break it down for me in an easy to understand format/language?

Always with much appreciation for Allnurses expertise,

Me :D


2,719 Posts

This is embarrasing for me. I have had ACLS for about 4 years now. and I Have not used it in over 2.

THere are a number of books and some Disc out there. The american heart association book is the worst one I have seen, for ease of learning . I am guessing that is the one you have. Go on line shopping. Try Amazon and such. Try Springhouse (they are on line) Look for EMT sites I bet they can recomend something better than you have.

It would not be realistic to break it down and explain it on this board. As you said it is a whole book.. :eek:

Basically memorize the ALGORYTHMS.


1 Article; 2,394 Posts

Specializes in Everything except surgery.

This is a great site, with lots of links:D

Especially check out! It has simulators, quizzes, and mnemonics! Good luck!


4,516 Posts

The first time is the hardest, Renee...cuz everything is brand new to you....but try not to worry.

My advice is to skim the book and pay close attention to the algorithms and drugs. Then listen closely to the lectures to solidify your studying. These will be the emphasis of your tests. Look at it as a learning experience and try not to let it overwhelm. I let it overwhelm me the first time and failed my first try.

Most ACLS teachers now teach a low key class without the traumas of years used to be a horrendous experience in the 80's when we first started...the docs resented nurses posessing this knowledge and ran us into the ground in Megacode...but no more thank God.

Remind yourself this is not a mandate that you are required to intubate and run codes now. ACLS algorithms are a tool and FYI thing for the most part. Many docs still do their own thing in codes and some don't even follow the algorithms...or know the updates from years past. It is truly meant as a guide.

I made flash cards first time few times to help cement all the data...had my son quizzing me at home....and after awhile it all becomes second nature. A basic dysrhythmia course helps a lot too...lots of self study books out there now for all this stuff.

Betcha do just fine!


79 Posts

Like brownms said is very good. I do well if I have a "memory aid" like a mnemonic. I took it recently and here is what I found

- they really have a different outlook now in terms of not being as intimidating

- they have a few new terms for things (like "brain attack" of all things)

- the megacode is a kinder, gentler experience

Just relax as much as you can, try to be on absorb mode during the lectures and take the opportunity to practice your stations.

You'll do fine. It really isnt as gut wrenching as it used to be :)


1 Article; 2,394 Posts

Specializes in Everything except surgery.

I totally agree with every word written here:D!

allnurses Guide

Spidey's mom, ADN, BSN, RN

11,302 Posts

I just took the recertification ACLS last Saturday and passed . . . .I agree that it is a much kinder and gentler class than when I first took it and failed.


live4today, RN

5,099 Posts

Specializes in Community Health Nurse.

Whew! Thanks siblings! That's a big relief to know. :)

Thanks for the acls sites too. I'll check them out. I just want to get through it one time and move on to other things. I'm stressed enough already, so this just adds more tension to my life having to study for something I'll probably forget the minute the class and test are over, especially if I never get to use the information I cram to learn. :o


335 Posts

Just to let you know - I took ACLS many moons ago, and remember it as one of the most intimidating experiences of my life (right up there with taking the driving test in Britain!). Anyway, took it last year when I returned to the US, and we actually laughed through alot of it. The instructors were very laid back, really wanted us to understand the whys, which makes the hows much easier. And yes - look at the web sites. They also helped a bunch with my dysrhythmia class!

Specializes in CCU (Coronary Care); Clinical Research.

Good advice here...try to break it down in a way that makes sense to you. Also, remember that you are never alone, at least while in the hospital. There is a whole team of people. Know your drugs and what to expect. Also most important to me is remember your abc's, your basic BLS. It drives me crazy when I go to a code and everyone is standing there (well, that has only happened once, but hello?) Think to youself-Airway, Breathing, Circulation and make sure that these things are being tended to. If you have a code team at your hosptial, they will probably be the ones initiating the further intervention, etc, but for whatever floor you work on it is good to know so you can be ready for what might happen and have it ready. Also review the basic "bad"rhythms...asystole, VT, Vfib, what is the patient doing (or not doing). I took ACLS as a student and found it to be nervewracking for sure but I am a better nurse for knowing it. Most of all, try not to stress over it. You will do fine! Good luck.


217 Posts

shock, shock, shock, everybody shock. Little shock, big shock, ...

shock- 200j

shock- 300j

shock- 360j

everybody- epi

shock- 360j

little- lidocaine

shock- 360j

big- bretylium

shock- 360j

This is how I learned the algorythm for v-fib, pulseless V-tach 13 yrs ago. Now that Amidorone is used, the saying needs to be changed a bit.

medicrnohio, RN

508 Posts

Specializes in Tele, Home Health, MICU, CTICU, LTC.

The newest ACLS provider manual is not that bad. I know people who actually said they read it more than once because they liked it. The old one I used for my first ACLS class was a bear, for one thing it was dry and the print was so darned small. Good luck.

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