Help - taking ACLS for the first time

  1. Hi all,

    I am taking ACLS in a couple of weeks and am scared to death. Just blew about $100 on EKG books and ACLS for dummies and am now about 1/2 way through the actual course book.

    Does anyone have any advice. I don't know much about reading rhythms. I'm an OB nurse - I can read EFM strips, not EKGs.

    Any advice, references, study tips would be greatly appreciated.
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    Joined: Feb '03; Posts: 388; Likes: 152


  3. by   RazorbackRN
    Study your drugs and know your shockable rhythms.
  4. by   Rhfish2
    The majority of ACLS programs help walk you through the process. It seems intimidating initially but it all starts to come together. As razorback mentioned know your drugs and basic rhythms.
  5. by   eligrace
    First, take a deep breath!
    Any decent ACLS program is there to teach you, not drill you. They are good at walking you through the steps. Remember your algorhythms. Remember your med doses and shockable rhythms. And relax.
  6. by   TazziRN
    And don't panic about the megacodes. If you fail any part of it they will remediate you. They want you to pass, not fail.
  7. by   Blee O'Myacin
    Don't shock a flat line.

    And don't worry - you'll be fine. Just look at it this way. The person "coding" is starting off, well, dead. So learn your rhythms and first line meds and it will all come together.

    Relax and have fun with it - the simulations are there so you can learn. Where else can you pretend to intubate someone in the frozen foods section of the supermarket (my scenario in the "megacode")? I always think of that when pushing mag. on someone in torsades.

  8. by   TazziRN
    Don't shock a PEA either!
  9. by   Texas1996
    when you see flat line...don't shock like the movies do. Flat means push your meds and do "high quality CPR" until time is called. You'll have one pt die in your megacode practice/exam. Know the 4 lethal ECG. Like VF, VT, Asystole, PEA (pulseless electrical arrest).

    I took the course today and it is easier than I thought but it is still very stressful when you have to run code agmonst your peers. Written exam is less stressful because it's on paper. But what comes out of your mouth is very important.

    Make sure you have taken a recent BCLS class with the AHA. This will help tremendously.

    Don't expect them to stop to answer questions about med or rhythm because you need to know your algorythms. Bradycardia, PEA, VT/VF.

    No worries about the atrial stuff. People live lives with atrial rhythmic problems. Send those pt to consult.

    30:2 breaths...6-8sec per breath when intubated, 100 deep recoiled compressions per minute.

    Good Luck. I'll let you know tomorrow if we passed. We are all nervous. Even the tenured nurses. There was a single guy that studied the entire book front to back and probably did role plays with his other GNs. But he was good. My brain needs a fire underneath it. Right out of school your better taking ACLS...I think because after you get alot alot of experience you'll start questioning the AHA guidlines and say stuff like "we don't do that at our hospital"
  10. by   Texas1996
    Passed today . Missed one question. Didn't even stay to look at what question because I was glad to get home. Hurray.

    Anyway, I'd over study then just briefly flip through the book. We had about 8 insructors in our class and depending on which one you get makes or breaks your test. One of the instr. kept getting me with Regular Sinus Brady, no pacer available, and minutes later your patient goes to pacing to defib VF and then VT and then sysytole (don't shock ).

    Just study the study guide. Also know the doses. Maybe some people thought it was simple but our class seemed very chaotic and rushed in the codes. Beeping , syringes, running back and forth and they made us work up a good tachy ourselves..

    Good Luck!
  11. by   finkisher_xx
    help! i also want to know what are some institutions in the philippines that offer ACLS AND BLS trainings.thanks.
  12. by   Debbie, RN
    Thanks for all these posts regarding taking ACLS for the first time. I've been an OB Rn for 19 years and never needed to know cardiac rhythms (although we do recover our own patients after C-Sections), all we ever see is healthy hearts. I'm now trying a change and working prn at an Ambulatory Surg center where ACLS is required. Thanks for the study tips. I'm also very afraid of failing but I'll be sure to study the algorythms and the meds. Please Wish me luck!
    Last edit by Debbie, RN on Jan 10, '08 : Reason: Forgot my manners
  13. by   CaLLaCoDe
    the best investment by far for your money:

    acls review (made incredibly easy line of books)

    i even found the book helpful to understanding telemetry nursing and interpreting rythms!

    good luck!

    ps. don't panic with acls. know this: your evaluators want you to pass! they are there to guide you through the mega code not doom you to fail. you're not expected to know everything as in the old school acls. acls is user friendly ;-)
  14. by   gradRN2007
    I just took ACLS and passed yesterday. So stressful but codes are stressful.
    I didn't spend any money because I am working as a new grad RN (1.5y) and the hospital paid for me to go to class. I am glad that I have a year of RN experience on a cardiac floor before I went. OMG, the pretest i took the first time was a 75% looking at the book, then i went to barnes and noble studied 6 hrs (just like nursing school) went home studied more and took the test with notes and got an 87%..they didn't even look at my test
    I missed one question on the written and they really help you with the megacode. It was different though because we were with the same group of 4 both days and then when testing came everyone ws in a group of 3, that was totally different than what we had been doing but it was okay.
    I came away with pulse or no pulse and stable or unstable (symtomatic or asymptomatic), stable do meds if a pulse and unstable with a pulse probably have to defib. know your 6 h"S and 5 t's and know that they only think you can do in the t's is the 3 needles, pneumothorax, tampanode and fluids.
    good luck and i am sure you will do fine, there was a great nurse in our group from illinois who was traveling to her first assignment in florida and on friday they said where is your acls, she never needed it so they gave her a book and sent her to the class. she missed 5, changed an answer so has to take the written again. now that was a lot of stress, she never had to look at ekgs, blocks labor and delivery!
    so if you are traveling then i would get my acls, never know when you need it
    best of luck hope this helped