Overview of Online PALS Certification Programs
PALS stands for pediatric advanced life support and certification in the subject from AHA-authorized (American Heart Association) programs qualifies individuals to respond to a range of pediatric emergencies. Usually, this certification is intended for various healthcare providers who work with children and/or in emergency medicine, including physicians, nurses, and paramedics. PALS certification aims to train students in the emergency assessment and treatment of infants, children, and adolescents.
Commonly, PALS certification is available in a hybrid format and the online portion is usually self-paced. Some programs require students to hold a valid basic life support certification prior to enrollment. There are some PALS certification programs that may enable students to renew their basic life support certification at the same time as the PALS online courses. Completing PALS certification typically qualifies students for 2 years, and recertification for PALS must be completed every 2 years after that and is usually completed in person.
Requirements for Online PALS Certification
PALS certification programs help prepare students for emergency situations involving children where they must quickly assess children and apply the correct treatment skills for responding to conditions like respiratory failure, cardiac-related issues, and shock. All of these programs include didactic instruction that may be completed online, as well as a clinical component that must be completed in person.
When offered in an online format, the didactic instruction for PALS certification is usually self-paced and may require a pre-course self-assessment. Students then move into simulations, case studies, and other activities that help students practice the skills they learn about. These courses typically cover topics in treating shock, determining differences between respiratory failure and distress, identifying patients who need immediate interventions, and more. At the end of the didactic instruction, students may be required to take an exam and pass with a certain percentage, such as 84% or higher, in order to qualify for the in-person training portion of the certification.
Depending on the program, the in-person training may take 4 to 8 hours. In order to enter or enroll for the in-person training, students must have the completion certificate that indicates they successfully completed the didactic instruction. During these skills sessions, students receive training and practice hands-on skills in areas like CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), working with intubations, and other interventions. These sessions may utilize simulations and allow students to practice working in medical teams.
Recertification for PALS must occur every 2 years after the initial certification that lasts for 2 years. Some PALS recertification courses may allow students to complete the program during a 1-day intensive. Other programs may be in a hybrid format again, with an online portion and a 4-hour in-person skills session. In order to qualify for recertification, students must hold a PALS provider card and a basic life support card is usually recommended. Depending on the position, initial PALS certification and PALS recertification program may qualify for differing amounts of continuing education units or required contact hours for medical professionals, like doctors, nurses, or dentists, to put towards their licenses/certifications.
Career Outcomes with Certification in PALS
PALS certification in and of itself does not qualify students for a particular career, but it is very useful for and may be required in a variety of medical professions. For example, NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) nurses may be required to have PALS certification and this certification may be a building block and requirement for additional training in NICU nursing. PALS certification may also be offered through medical schools for aspiring pediatricians, emergency physicians, respiratory therapists, and more.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the education requirements and salaries for various healthcare professions that may need PALS certification vary. For instance, registered nurses (RNs) may have a diploma, associate's, or bachelor's degree, while advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), like nurse practitioners, need at least a master's degree. The BLS reported that RNs had a median salary of $73,300, as of 2019, while nurse practitioners had a median salary of $109,820. Physicians and surgeons need a medical degree and as of 2019, made a median salary equal to or greater than $208,000, per the BLS.
PALS certification is available in a hybrid format to train students to respond to emergency situations involving children. Recertification for PALS occurs every 2 years and students are required to complete some in-person skills sessions.