Insight and advice would be greatly appreciated.
I'm an Ohio nursing student about to finish (ADN) nursing school. I've been looking around at job ads and many descriptions express a desire for applicants to have BLS and even ACLS. My questions are these...
1. Do you have to be an RN to get these certifications?
2. If not, where would you go to get certified? How much does it cost?
3. Is it worth it to get this done myself before I start job hunting, or should I wait for my employer to pay for it?
Sep 9, '12
BLS is American Hearth Association's Basic Life Support/CPR for the healthcare provider. Most schools require this certification as a condition of enrollment and the ability to participate in clinical rotations. Anyone can take basic life support.
You can go to the American Heart Association website to find training locations for ACLS. Most paramedic organizations and hospitals are training centers. The course cost ranges from $150-$300 or more depending on the organization offering the course. However many employers offer the training at no cost to new & current employees. It is expected that you will be familiar with the various treatment decision trees, basic dysrhytmias/arrythmia identification (i.e. interpretation of an ECG strip). You do not need to be a registered nurse to take ACLS. ACLS is taken by paramedics, nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists, and many other professionals. The only absolute pre-requisite is a current AHA BLS/CPR for the Healthcare Professional Card.
The reviews are mixed on whether having ACLS gives a new grad an edge when they apply for jobs. Some feel it shows initiative to advance their education, others may not agree as it's difficult to grasp some of the advanced life support concepts if you have no experience in critical care situations. Only you can decide if the time and expense involved is worth it.
Sep 9, '12
I had to keep my BLS current while in nursing school (also an ADN program) per school rules. I would definitely go ahead and get that certification now but I would hold off on ACLS. I work on a Cardiac ICU & stepdown unit and participated in many codes before I even took ACLS. If I had taken before then I'm not sure I really would have understood it as well. My director didn't even send us until we had been there 6 months. You really wouldn't have a frame of reference to apply your ACLS to unless you have been exposed to plenty of codes during school. (I never had even close during clinicals) I would make sure whatever health system you work for has a system in place specifically to support new grads. The health system I work for never had new grad positions even posted, only the ones for experienced nurses. You had to go through Human Resources to see what was available for new grads.
Sep 9, '12
I would hold off on ACLS. Although a lot of employers require it, it usually isn't required until you've already been working there for a few months or within your first 6 months of employment (every facility is different). ACLS is also expensive so it is worth it to have your employer pay for the course. It may look good on your resume to already have it while applying but you will not be guaranteed a position if you do have it.
BLS, however, is usually always a requirement prior to getting hired. You can check out AHA's website for course offerings. Also check into your local fire department as they will often teach the AHA BLS course and for a cheaper, price. I think when I first got certified in BLS I had to pay $60-$80...then I found out my local fire department was charging $20-$30 for the same curriculum.
You do not have to be an RN to get these certifications. Pretty much everyone in the medical profession is trained in BLS...I know for ACLS, respiratory therapists can get that certification. I have heard of LPNs getting it, too, but I'm not sure how that works because they aren't allowed to push IV medications.
Sep 12, '12
I took ACLS and an EKG class prior to graduating. It was a factor in getting a job in the ICU- as a new grad. I'm happy with my decision, even though my employer would have paid for it had I waited.
Sep 18, '12
Thank you all for the advice
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