With the growing need for healthcare workers, medical certifications are in high demand across the U.S. Of these, PALS certification online is one of the fastest growing fields. Although highly specialized, it is a requirement for all jobs in intensive care and emergency settings, making it almost a must for anyone looking to get ahead in the healthcare industry.
PALS stands for Pediatric Advanced Life Support, and is one of several fields overseen by the American Heart Association (AHA). These include Adult Cardiac Life Support and Basic Life Support. Jobs that require PALS certification include emergency medical technicians, intensive care workers, and pediatric ward personnel.
Pediatric life support offers a different set of challenges compared to adult life support. Besides the obvious physiological differences, cardiac arrest in infants is often linked to respiratory failure, which can result from a wide range of causes, such as congenital defects and poisoning. While there is some overlap in procedures with adult life support, such as restoring air flow and circulation, approaches based on cause are central to pediatric life support. Much of the course content in a PALS certification program deals with these causes, both in terms of preventing them and responding to them. Common topics include identifying and treating illnesses, respiratory management, monitoring heart rates, defibrillation, and resuscitation.
Most PALS certification courses are offered in classrooms, but more and more companies are bringing their courses online. Many of these are affiliated with well-established associations like the American Academy of Pediatrics. All courses are required to comply with AHA guidelines, which are updated regularly to reflect new, evidence-based information. The latest guidelines were published in January 2012.
Online PALS certification can be just as effective as classroom courses, but as with any online course, comparing your sources is always essential. Although both follow the same guidelines, there are obvious differences between reading online material and learning in a classroom. Simulated figures used in online courses can do the job just as well as in hands-on practice, but it’s both a matter of how the material is delivered and how each student learns best. There are also practical matters: some people have full-time jobs or simply do not have the time or means to commute to classroom courses.
Perhaps more importantly, you have to make sure the course you are taking is accredited in your area and by your employer. The best way to go is to show the online course content to present or potential employers, and talk to the course provider directly. For something as essential as pediatric life support, it pays to take the time to get the right training.