1. I am getting ready to take acls for the first time and am terrified.
    How bad is it, any suggestions as to how to prepare. Thanks
  2. Visit allevi profile page

    About allevi

    Joined: Jun '00; Posts: 117; Likes: 27
    Specialty: 8 year(s) of experience


  3. by   Brownms46
    Hi allevi

    It depends on where you take it.... as everytime I have taken has been different. But for the most part...they try to make it as painless as possible....but everyone gets performance jitters, Last class I took at a hospital here...there were several doctors...and when they had to do a mock could hear the nervousness in their voices.
    Here is a site I use ...they have the latest agorithims...quizzes...and stimulator. I will tell you that in one of the classes I took...some of the same questions were right from this site! Here is the linlk for the site.

    Here is software that has a demo you can play with...good visuals.

    And here is some great software with demo you can download. I haven't tried the new ones yet...because when I renewed in 4/01...we didn't even have the new books the publisher kept pushing back the date for release. But try these out....Mad
    Scientist Software has been around a long time...and has been very good in the past! And they will help you be a little more at ease I hope.,..

    Good Luck...I'm sure you will do just fine...
    Last edit by Brownms46 on Mar 28, '02
  4. by   bassbird
    I'm still a student but I passed it 2 weeks ago without any problem. (I experienced my first code last Saturday during my preceptorship and was so happy I had taken the course!) I bought the ACLS provider manual and read that through once and did all of the quizzes. Also, since I don't have much experience with reading EKG's, I bought a couple of books on that and they really helped me.

    The majority of the RN's that took it with me hadn't even read the book beforehand and they passed without a problem too.

    Good luck, you'll do just fine!

  5. by   Ted
    I just took my first ACLS review course. The written test and the "Mega Code" were almost too easy.

    With regards to the written test, it had several questions that were on the pre-test that we had to take prior to taking the course. On top of that, we were able to use the handbook to help answer the questions (which I used, of course, for certain drugs).

    With regards to the "mega code". The instructor had us sit in a semi-circle as she basically outlined per ACLS protocols what should happen in the event of v-fib/v-tak. She then asked the group at large what should be done in the event a patient was witnessed to go into v-fib (after already giving us the answers). Interestingly, a few people didn't even answer one question. (I answered several. Heck, I thought someone had to say something!)

    At the beginning of the review course, the instructor did mention that the course and test format had drastically changed (as also mentioned in the 2000 ACLS Provider book).

    Two years ago, when I took my very first ACLS course, things were quite different. We had to physcially demonstrate (as well as talk about) what we would do during the "Mega Code" situation. Everyone had to be involved during the mock code and there was more than one arrhythmia involved. When we took the written test, we had to have memorized not only the ACLS protocols, but drug dosages and concentrations, etc.

    Apparently when ACLS first came out, the whole process was even harder still.

    The new recertifcation process just seemed too surreal to me. I anticipated a tough day and instead got "hand-held walk through a park" kind-of experience. I guess because there is less emphasis on memorization, the whole new ACLS process should be easier than past years. I hold no judgement on the new ACLS curriculum. It is different this time around and will probably be even more different the next time I take the recertification class. However, the whole process just seemed too easy. (Maybe I'm getting smarter???)

    For me, though, the bottom line is that I feel prepared for the emergent situation mostly because I read the Provider manual several times over the past year. (This is good.) Understand that I work in a very small rural hospital and a code comes our way only very rarely. So, it's easy to become rusty. However, because of this, I wish that the mega-code and written test was just a bit more challenging.

    I'd be interested to know other people's opinions with regards to the new ACLS curriculum. Did you find it too easy? Or too hard? Or "just right"?


    Ted Fiebke
    Last edit by Ted on Mar 28, '02
  6. by   Brownms46
    Hi Ted,

    I'm glad to hear at did read the provider manual...

    I first took ACLS...back in geeze...I don't remember...sorry...but what I do know is last year was my fourth time going thru...and yes it was much easier this time...but not as easy as Ted stated. That they did challenge I said there was a MD there...and his voice when it was his turn to go through a mock could hear he was nervous. But I guess he remembered the "old" ACLS...where they didn't hold your hand and walk you through. In one hospital...they had a team come out...and only 22 people out of 80...passed!!! There used to be some real fear out there about ACLS...and getting through it. When I took it in CC, TX...the last time I was was given by a cardiologist and his team. Geezze...boring...long winded...and this was the first time....they had added stroke to the course. That must have been 98'. The written exam was in two questions...the other strips....and not just lethal rhythms...but some tricky ones nobody got!!! Anywho...then there was the "Mega Codes" had to get in teams...and you had to take turns being the one leading the code the orders...directiing your team members. Your team members could help you with hints....but the insrtuctor didn't!!! So if you picked the wrong team were up you know what creek! Anyhow...we had a good charge nurse was on my team....and unfortuantely...she thought she knew just a little bit more than she did....and wouldn't listen to the hints we were giving... oops...killed the pt! . Needless to say she didn't
    pass.....but I did..

    PS...also everytime a new team leader took over...the other team members had to switch whatever skill that had done in the previous had to now be done by someone else. And in order to find out whether or not you had passed because there were so many in the have to go to a URL...and check for your score. for the ekg part..
    Last edit by Brownms46 on Mar 28, '02
  7. by   franklin
    yes its true that simulators are sometimes too easy to predict,as long as know your algo. youll be fine. But i think the most important thing about acls is its actual application on real situation on real patients. Its a totally different feeling if you just rescucitated a patient using the algo.,more if your the one who intubated the patient or delivered shocks by yourself-w/out any doctors around!.Hope youll experience the same- and youll understand what im talking about.
  8. by   VickyRN
    I agree, a whole lot easier this time around than it was just a few years ago (have taken it three times now). At least at my hospital, if you take the time to prepare, you will pass. The instructors will walk you through.
  9. by   KC CHICK
    I just took ACLS for the first time this week and it was a great experience. By no means were the teachers in this program the "drill instructors" they once were. (according to seasoned nurses I work with) It was a very positive learning environment. They stressed that "they just want you to walk away knowing more than you came in with".

    You can be assured you will do great as long as you are familiar with your rythm strips.
    You will learn a lot......RELAX.

    PS: They also stated that you're not going to be "alone" for a code when it happens in real life. You will have a team to help you that you'll be able to bounce ideas off of.
    Last edit by KC CHICK on Mar 29, '02
  10. by   cbs3143
    I have recertified in ACLS about five or six times now, can't recall specifically. I recall the terror of the initial course, and some the subsequent recerts. We did have to know it cold back then, and we were on our own in the mega code. There were no open book tests back then either, but things have mellowed out a bit. I guess the new theory is that a less steressful environment is more conducive to learning. PALS was basically the same way.

    The standards are supposed to be the same for everyone, but I was told once that since I worked in the ER, they were making the mega code more difficult. I don't know if they did, but that was still back when we went in alone. At least with the teams it was considerably easier.

    Get a pocket-sized reference to help you with remembering the algorithms, drugs, and cardiac rhythms. They can be invaluable during a code or pre-code situation. You can purchase one or develope your own like I did. I utilized several sources including the hospital's P&P manual, drug books, ACLS and TNCC references, and pearls gained over time. When it comes time to mix and hang a drip that you don't routinely use, you need to have the information on mixing instructions, solution and drug compatabilities, and dosages RIGHT NOW. I hate the term STAT since Hollywood has driven it into the ground.

    Hang in there, read the chapters that they have indicated, and you will do well. Don't learn ACLS to just pass the course though, learn it to help your patients.
  11. by   Stargazer
    I've taken ACLS a lot over the years. I love that the emphasis is now on "learning" instad of testing. That said, I think Ted's right that his class was a little TOO laid back. Everyone who's getting certified has to be able to perform, and instructor can't see that unless each individual takes turns "running" his/her own code. You can always ask for help from the group if you get stuck, which is closer to real life anyway.

    Brownie--thank you for the links--those are great! I've already forwarded to my boss and medical director to see if we can buy the Anesoft products for CEs for our employees.
  12. by   Brownms46
    Stargazer you are very welcome...! Thank you for saying so.. And your chosing to tell me...was wonderful of you...!