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Everything You Want to Know About Online PALS Certification

Mackenzie Thompson

by Mackenzie

Life Saver, NHCPS

posted on Oct 20, 2021 at 10:05 am

It’s easy to think of children’s bodies as merely smaller versions of adult ones in many ways. We both have arms and legs and ribs and lungs–in most cases. 

But despite appearances from the outside, a child’s body is very different. And caring for a child during an emergency is about more than adjusting the dosage.

PALS Certification is a specialized advanced medical certificate that specifically outlines how to manage life-threatening pediatric emergencies through PALS algorithms and processes. You obtain this certificate by completing a PALS course, which is available online. And you maintain your certification by getting a recertification every two years after completing updated PALS courses. 

We get a lot of questions about online PALS certifications, and we listen. So here are the answers to everything you want to know about online PALS courses.

What Is a PALS Certification?

child-sick-in-hospital-bed-with-her-parentsPALS stands for Pediatric Advanced Life Support. You can think of it as the infant and child version of ACLS (advanced cardiac life support).

You do learn a little about pediatric life support in ACLS and BLS (basic life support) courses. But PALS provides you with a much more in-depth look at pediatric-specific procedures. 

A PALS course goes through what science says is most effective for assessing, resuscitating, and managing life support for a child. PALS algorithms outline specialized team dynamics and procedures geared toward giving a child the best possible outcome.

What’s the Difference Between PALS Online and Classroom PALS Course

The world of online learning has exploded over the last five to 10 years. In 2021, an estimated 75% of schools offer some online learning. Nearly 5% of all courses now occur online. 

2020 was a big year for online education for obvious reasons, causing a seismic shift toward greater access to more and better online education.

Online learning is continuing to evolve. It’s becoming more immersive and student-centered. 98% of higher education institutions are now offering some courses online. 

This has increased the sense of legitimacy in online learning, which is long overdue, because, in reality, online learning has a lot going for it.

The Same Evidence-Based Training

Before exploring the differences between PALS online vs. classroom PALS, let’s look at what’s the same.

First of all, PALS algorithms are based upon ILCOR Guidelines.  ILCOR (ILCOR.org) is the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation, an international board of medical professionals who review studies and procedures each year to ensure that recommendations keep up with current peer-reviewed science.

Most classroom and online courses will build their courses on ILCOR or similarly-respected guidelines. So you’re getting the same comprehensive, accurate, and up-to-date information. 

Both will likely have you take a test to ensure you’ve retained what you learned before handing you a certificate. This provides much-needed validity to your certification, regardless of where you complete PALS certification courses.

And both certifications are widely accepted for CME, employment, and licensure requirements.

The Benefits of Online PALS Over Classroom

Let’s look at some research. A ThinkImpact research study found that employees learn about 5X more in the same amount of time when they learn online vs. sitting in a room with their co-workers. That’s no wonder, given that there are no distractions when you’re on an online course. It’s just you and the course material.

If there are people around, just pop in some earbuds to focus.

A more comprehensive study by the American Educational Research Association (Aera.Net) looked at 105 studies on video-based learning among around 8000 college students. It found that students got better grades when learning through video instead of more traditional classroom lecture settings. 

Yet another study published in the American Psychologist (apa.org) showed that people learn best when hearing and seeing what they’re learning. Online courses deliver this combination of visuals and auditory input that doesn’t occur in a classroom where teachers spend most of their time talking.

On top of that, PALS training has a lot of benefits that classroom courses lack, such as being:

  • More convenient. Take the course anywhere you have the Internet on most devices.
  • More student-centric. You can go at your own pace, not a class’ pace or the pace a teacher thinks you need to go. You can also go back as much as you need to guide your best learning experience.
  • Greater engagement. Because the classes are built around a student, not a teacher, many say they stay more engaged, allowing them to learn the material more easily and thoroughly.

Less expensive. Online certification courses are often less expensive.

How Many Hours Does an Online PALS Course Take

Students typically complete the course and are ready to take the exam within six to 10 hours.  The online Save-a-Life PALS certification course takes around eight hours on average.

But there is some variance. If you’re already a medical provider like an EMS professional, nurse, or doctor, chances are you’ll go through the information much faster than someone who is preparing to go to nursing school, for example.

A free online study guide and practice test may be included with your online course. If you took a classroom course, you’d probably have to pay extra for these.

And these are critical. They allow you to test your knowledge and prepare for the online test. After completing these, you may decide to go back and review certain sections. That’s yet another benefit of online learning. You can easily go back and review just the information you need. 

Many people seeking recertification can compete online with PALS in as few as four hours.

Do I Have to Take a Test to Get PALS Certified?

child-patient-high-five-with-doctorYes, testing is a critical safeguard in any certification program. For a certificate to mean something, it needs to provide some level of proof that a person has completed the courses specified and retained that knowledge.

This gives your employer assurance that, within your job description, you could perform the steps outlined in each PALS algorithm on a pediatric patient.

On top of that, getting certified gives you the confidence that you know how to work with a team to save a child’s life.

Will an Online PALS Certificate Be Accepted By My Employer?

The vast majority of employers recognize the value of online education. They understand that with today’s technology, online courses are at least equal and, in some cases, superior to in-person classes.

The above-referenced studies prove that point.

For example, Save-a-Life’s PALS certification is internationally accepted 98% of the time. And if for any reason, your employer were to refuse to accept the value of a quality online PALS course, you would get a full refund.

Does PALS Certification Count Toward CME

To receive continuing medical education credits (CME), you will need to pass the test with 80% or greater. You’ll then get your certification or recertification to print. Just provide it to your employer or licensure board.

A PALS certification is considered an AMA Category 1 CME. PALS Certification counts for up to 8 CME, while recertification may earn you up to 4 credits.

How to Choose an Online PALS Certification Program

You know enough about the Internet to realize that websites aren’t always who they say they are. So before you shell out money for certification, please do a little research.

Start by looking at student reviews on a third-party review website like Trustpilot.com. See what other students are saying about the course itself and the PALS certification. For example, Save-a-Life by NHCPS has nearly 20,000 reviews from real people who’ve completed their online courses over the past several years.

Another smart way to choose an online course is to test drive it. Not every company that offers online training will offer this perk. So take advantage of this opportunity to be certain you’re choosing the right PALS Certification program for you.

This way, you can see how the courses are laid out. Is the information thorough and provided in an easy-to-understand way?  Do they have a mix of videos, text, and interactive resources to help you stay engaged?

You can’t test drive a classroom course before you buy it. So here’s another benefit of completing your PALS training online.

How Do I Find a PALS Course Near Me?

One of the great things about 100% online courses is that you only need the Internet and a compatible device. You can even start your course on one device and pick it up on another without losing your place.

Work on your training in the break room, in the park, during a commute (if you’re not driving), anywhere.

That sure beats spending a whole Saturday in a hard metal chair watching an instructor lead an in-person PALS class and go through every PALS algorithm.

You can do that on a device at your own time and your own pace.

What Do You Learn in a PALS Course?

Here are just some of the many pediatric-specific procedures and best practices you learn in a PALS certification course.

  • How to quickly and systematically assess a child in distress. Children do not always behave as an adult would during this event.
  • Priorities for intervention
  • Post-resuscitation management for pediatric patients
  • High-quality CPR for infants and children, and how to define each
  • Respiratory management for children
  • Brain function preserving measures
  • Pharmaceutical administration

On top of learning through course modules, you’ll have the opportunity to put your skills to the test virtually with online PALS mega codes. Test your decision-making in what could be very real-life scenarios. They’re timed to provide a sense of urgency you’d experience in the real world.

A Carnegie Mellon University study published in Education World found that people learn six times faster when engaging with interactive content. Interactivity is something to look for when considering which PALS courses to take.

Who Should Take a PALS Course?

PALS Certification is a more advanced medical certificate. Anyone who cares for children, such as a parent, teacher, or daycare worker, would learn a lot from a PALS course. It’s important to remember that PALS certification doesn’t give you authority to administer medication or do anything outside the scope of your professional license. But it does help you perform those tasks more effectively on pediatric patients within your job role.

Some people who would benefit most from PALS include:

  • Medical, Nursing, and EMS students or those planning on entering a program soon
  • Physicians and Physician Assistants
  • Paramedics and other EMTs
  • Nurses
  • Dental professionals and office staff who work with children
  • Pharmacists and pharmacy techs
  • Anyone who works in a pediatric medicine setting, clinical or non-clinical

How Can PALS Benefit your Career?

In addition to learning valuable skills that you can use to improve the outcomes for pediatric patients, some other benefits for your career may exist. There are no guarantees as every employer will handle advanced certifications differently. But here are some of the benefits many who’ve gotten their certifications to describe.

Benefits for Students

For students entering a program, getting your PALS certification is a great way to show potential schools you’re serious about your medical career. You’re spending your own time and money to learn something new and relevant to your future career. Schools like that.

If you’re trying to get into a program with limited spots, this could be the difference between getting the program you want or having to settle for another. Or worse, having to wait until next year to start classes

It also gives you a taste of what you’ll be learning in a medical program. 

Benefits for Licensed Professionals

Even if you are not required by your employer or licensure to take a PALS certification course, completing this program looks great on a resume. It shows dedication and a commitment to the well-being of children.

In some settings,  having additional advanced certifications like PALS can tip the scale in your favor when several people are being considered for a single promotion. 

There are many benefits to getting your PALS certificate and so many reasons to get that certificate or recertification online. Share your story about getting an online PALS certification.

About Mackenzie

Mackenzie is a lover of world travel, photography, design, style and Chinese cooking. She is passionate about working towards a purpose, recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Media and Marketing, and is currently residing in Manhattan.

Contact Mackenzie at mackenzie.thompson@savealife.com

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