ACLS for non-nurses?

  1. Just wondering if anyone here might know. I'm planning on doing BLS for Healthcare ASAP, but was wondering something. Is it possible to do the ACLS certification even if you aren't a medical 'professional' (LPN/LVN, RN, MD, etc). My facility has such a small staff that, when a code is called on third/night shift, I think it would be nice to be able to assist in any way possible, even if that is just applying chest compressions, or acting as relief should a nurse tire out.. The aides don't have access to the SBAR info, nor the ability to put the transfer into the computer system, etc, so there is little that they can do. Beyond that, there is a potential that I may be in a situation soon where I may be the only staffer with a patient/resident on a 1:1 basis when getting them to appointments. It would be a good thing, in my opinion, to get as much training as I can fit in there.

    Buuutttt... I've been having some trouble reaching the AHA folks, and can't find an answer as to who (whom) can take just what. Does anyone have any ideas?

    Thank you in advance.
    •  
  2. Visit solDanz profile page

    About solDanz

    Joined: Sep '15; Posts: 11; Likes: 5

    17 Comments

  3. by   brownbook
    I am sure your BLS instructors will know if you can take ACLS.

    However the good news is that BLS and AED's save more lives than ACLS. ACLS mostly involves using defibrillators...which with AED's you do not need to be ACLS certified to use. And giving some IV drugs which you wouldn't be able to give anyway.

    I love your enthusiasm but I have been around codes and ACLS for 30 years. I can't begin to tell you how much ACLS has changed mainly because they learned that high quality BLS saves lives. And of course AED's becoming so common.

    I cringe when I think about the times we wasted in codes trying to interpret the rhythm on the cardiac monitor, giving a variety of drugs, intubating the patient, and meanwhile doing very poor quality BLS.
  4. by   pixierose
    I think for your position, OP - BLS is enough.
  5. by   dream'n
    No you should not get ACLS certified, even if it is possible (I have no idea). ACLS procedures would not be allowed to be done by you; you couldn't push IV medications, read EKG strips on your own and recognize heart rhythms.
  6. by   JBMmom
    Tomorrow is the second day of my ACLS class and they stated we won't get an ACLS card unless we present our BLS card. The intention is that you can only achieve the "advanced" level of life support of you have already completed the Basic level. And until you at least have BLS, I don't think you can legally be involved with code activities in a healthcare setting. But, you can always learn so you're ready!
  7. by   That Guy
    To what you speak of in applying help ( doing compressions, allowing others to take over) is BLS so there really is zero need for ACLS. Free up the ACLS people from compressions
  8. by   Susie2310
    For a layperson: BLS (basic life support), definitely yes; ACLS (advanced cardiac life support), no. BLS is taught to laypersons as well as health care professionals; laypersons with this very important knowledge and practical skills can and do help prevent death/injury from cardiac arrest/respiratory arrest/choking. ACLS involves recognizing cardiac rhythms on a monitor, which requires that one is a licensed, trained, health care professional, and involves utilizing an appropriate algorithm which can involve drugs that are only permitted to be administered by a licensed health care professional trained in their administration. Some of the algorithms include cardioversion and pacing for certain hearth rhythms: Again, these are medical interventions that can only be performed by appropriately licensed and trained health care professionals, as is Post-Resuscitation care. ACLS also includes training for health care professionals in stroke recognition and care, and recognition and care for Acute Coronary Syndromes.
    Last edit by Susie2310 on Jan 9
  9. by   verene
    Unless you are licensed and trained on reading EKGs, heart rhythms, use of a manual defibrillator and working in a position where you can push IV meds you won't be able to utilize ACLS training.

    The facilities I worked in as a CNA had CNAs trained in BLS only, because we couldn't utilize (and weren't licensed for) any of the higher level training. Assuming you are working as a aide, BLS is completely appropriate level of training for you.

    As an RN who doesn't work in a ED/ICU/Cardiac unit I am not ACLS trained because the training requires equipment, personnel, and knowledge that is not common in my area of practice (Psych). Were I to be in a code situation I would preform chest compressions, utilize AED and hand the scene over to some one trained in ACLS (likely a EMS crew) once they arrive.
  10. by   Here.I.Stand
    I think it would be nice to be able to assist in any way possible, even if that is just applying chest compressions, or acting as relief should a nurse tire out
    BLS will teach this. ACLS is laregly about the drugs, which as a non-RN/non-MD you wouldn't be legally allowed to administer.

    Even a licensed nurse working in a nursing home or even med-surg wouldn't typically take ACLS. Their role in a code would be to initiate BLS, call the code which would summon the MDs/RNs/RRTs/PharmD etc who have the knowledge to really run a code. (In a nursing home, sub "911" for "code.")

    Even being the recorder -- the one who documents the interventions -- would be impossible without a nursing or medical background.
  11. by   Meriwhen
    Anywone--even John Doe not-a-RN from off the street--can take ACLS. However, what you will be able to do in an actual medical emergency WILL be limited by the scope of any license you have. So even though John Doe not-a-RN would have learned and practiced all of the roles in a code and can get ACLS certified, John Doe not-a-RN's role in an actual Code Blue would be very limited since he's not licensed.

    In your case, taking BLS is enough. It's high quality compressions that make the difference.

    Quote from verene
    As an RN who doesn't work in a ED/ICU/Cardiac unit I am not ACLS trained because the training requires equipment, personnel, and knowledge that is not common in my area of practice (Psych).
    Every time I renew ACLS, there's at least one person in the class who asks me why I'm there. My answer: why not...oh yeah, and for ECT.
  12. by   verene
    Quote from Meriwhen

    Every time I renew ACLS, there's at least one person in the class who asks me why I'm there. My answer: why not...oh yeah, and for ECT.
    Yeah, if I worked in a different psych setting (e.g. medical-psych) it might make more sense to take (and I could see taking the class for personal knowledge a some point) but I work residential, so policy is all BLS based because we lack enough licensed staff and most of the supplies for an ACLS code.
  13. by   Susie2310
    Quote from Meriwhen
    Anywone--even John Doe not-a-RN from off the street--can take ACLS. However, what you will be able to do in an actual medical emergency WILL be limited by the scope of any license you have. So even though John Doe not-a-RN would have learned and practiced all of the roles in a code and can get ACLS certified, John Doe not-a-RN's role in an actual Code Blue would be very limited since he's not licensed.
    When I recently took AHA ACLS there was an online component (for which Continuing Education credits pertinent to one's professional license were awarded on passing the course) that required you to provide your professional licensure name and number when you initially registered for the class. The other component of the AHA ACLS class was class based and again asked for details of your professional license, and similarly awarded CE credits on passing the class.
  14. by   Meriwhen
    Quote from Susie2310
    When I recently took AHA ACLS there was an online component (for which Continuing Education credits pertinent to one's professional license were awarded on passing the course) that required you to provide your professional licensure name and number when you initially registered for the class. The other component of the AHA ACLS class was class based and again asked for details of your professional license, and similarly awarded CE credits on passing the class.
    But that's only if you want the CE credits--to give you those, they need to have your license number.

    If you don't want/need the CE credits, however, then no license is needed.

close